When he revealed on Tuesday that Gmail accounts were more secure than Hillary Clinton’s private server that housed many of America’s top secrets, FBI Director James Comey may have given Donald Trump a huge gift that Trump can use to neutralize Clinton’s central argument against his candidacy—that the businessman is a “reckless” “loose cannon.”
Right after Trump effectively secured the GOP nomination, Clinton told CNN, “I don’t think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country… I do think he is a loose cannon, and loose cannons tend to misfire.” Clinton would later say that Trump is an “unqualified loose cannon” who is “within reach of the most powerful job in the world.”
Clinton often lacks a rationale for her candidacy. She gives off the impression that the presidency is just the next step up in the political ladder for her. But her central argument against Trump is that he is someone who is too reckless to be trusted with the presidency and the nation’s secrets and nuclear codes. Warm-up speakers before her Tuesday North Carolina event repeatedly referred to Trump as “reckless.” It is an argument that the Clinton campaign will try to hammer home throughout the election cycle.
It is tough to explain all of the technical minutiae regarding Clinton’s email scandal to voters, especially those who are luddites, with notoriously short attention spans. But voters, many of whom use Gmail on a daily basis, will clearly understand how reckless Clinton was by using a private server for official State Department business that was less secure than their own personal Gmail accounts, allowing potential hackers to steal the country’s secrets and get damaging blackmail on Clinton and other top government officials.
It is difficult to get more reckless than that, and it is up to Trump to remind voters of that in language they can understand.
While effectively exonerating Clinton from wrongdoing, Comey astonishingly revealed that a Gmail account was more secure than Clinton’s private server and sophisticated foreign agents could have most likely hacked into Clinton’s account without leaving any trace.
“None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail,” Comey said, emphasizing that Clinton was “extremely careless.”
Comey said the FBI did not find “direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked,”
But, more importantly and sounding like he wanted the public to read the tea leaves, he added that “given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence.”
“We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent,” he continued, leaving people to connect the dots. “She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”