Saving Hillary By Inventing An ‘Email Problem’ For Scott Walker

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images/AFP

It looks like we’ll spend the rest of this week patiently explaining, over and over again, to Hillary Clinton’s media apologists that her email scandal is unlike anything else happening with any other political figure, now or in the past.

Keeping the press focused on the details of the Clinton scandal is like trying to keep a pack of toddlers focused on a CNBC segment. They just keep wandering away, cooing and burbling, in pursuit of someone, anyone, with an (R) after their name who can be portrayed as having a problem vaguely similar to Clinton’s. That way, Hillary’s travails can be banished into the void with the powerful “Everybody Does It” incantation.

We’ve seen this trick attempted with carping about former Secretary of State Colin Powell, ignoring salient differences such as (a) email policies were still being hammered out by the slow-moving government back then, (b) every subsequent SecState should be familiar with the policies designed at the end of Powell’s tenure, and (c) Colin Powell didn’t hire shadowy figures to set up a questionably secure mail server in his house for the specific purpose of evading federal transparency laws by routing every single piece of his official correspondence through it.

We also had a good laugh with ABC News’ hilariously wrong-headed attempt to play “gotcha” with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who has a Gmail address listed on his business card. Once again, we had to herd a few media toddlers back into the playpen by pointing out that (a) Chaffetz is a member of Congress, not the Secretary of State, which means (b) the Federal Records Act deliberately evaded by Hillary Clinton doesn’t apply to him, and (c) he has a government address he uses in addition to Gmail, which is (d) operated by Google, not running on a secret server in Chaffetz’ basement.

Now comes Lloyd Green at the Daily Beast with a Hail Mary pass, in which he tries to claim Gov. Scott Walker has an “email controversy” similar to Hillary’s. It’s a weird story, because it begins and ends with a number of unsavory details about the Clinton mail scandal – presented with a dash of anger or disappointment toward Hillary, whose “Hillary 3.0” incarnation is “looking a whole lot like Hillary 2.0, old wine in a 67-year-old wineskin.” Ouch.

He also expresses approval for the Republicans’ effort to investigate “this latest chapter of Clintonian shenanigans.” At the end of the article, Green castigates Clinton’s “homebrew” mail server as “at a minimum, hellaciously stupid for the simple reason that a system just might get hacked. But to Clinton, evading FOIA and her disclosure obligations was a higher priority than keeping out of the prying eyes of the Russians and Chinese.”

So, not a Hillary puff piece… but in the middle, Green goes nuts with a roll of rhetorical duct tape and tries to secure Scott Walker to Hillary Clinton, treating them as next-door neighbors on Shenanigan Avenue for the remainder of the article. “But Hillary is not the only one with an email problem,” he writes. “Can you say Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor and Republican 2016 frontrunner?”

Well, you might be able to, but Green can’t, because he doesn’t come anywhere near establishing that Walker did anything comparable to what Clinton did.

Green complains about some of Walker’s aides setting up a “secret email system,” which they used to communicate with each other. Objectionable as that might be, it’s not in the same league as Hillary personally commissioning her secret, dubiously secure server – on the day of her confirmation hearings – and using it to handle all of her Secretary of State mail. Also, they weren’t Secretary of State, and they weren’t handling sensitive material with national security implications. (It’s increasingly difficult to see how Hillary’s private server could have avoided processing classified documents, since there was no other way to email anything to her when she was Secretary of State.)

After a rambling litany of complaints about Walker aides that have little to do with email, Green finally admits he can’t hitch his wagon to Walker himself, wrapping up with some wishcasting about how that long-running, out-of-control “John Doe” campaign finance investigation might eventually find something that causes him some trouble. Then it’s back to 2007 for a little reminiscing about the Bush White House’s private emails, which does nothing to support the stated objective of making Scott Walker kinda-sorta guilty of the same offenses as Clinton, and actually makes Hillary come off even worse, since it’s beyond ridiculous to suggest that she and her staff weren’t deeply familiar with the Bush case and the precedents it set.

There’s nothing complicated about the requirements she bypassed, nothing arcane about the nature of the violation. It’s a comically obvious evasion of federal law, carried out by someone who knows precisely what laws she’s breaking and why they exist, carried out not just to shield a few private conversations but to obscure all of her email, with unique danger to national security due to the singular nature of the job Clinton held.

We know for a fact that her secret mail service helped her evade multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and subpoenas; we’ll never have anything but Hillary Clinton’s word that she’s turned over much of her correspondence to the State Department; and her obfuscation tactics gave her staff years to sanitize the emails, while her spin teams worked on managing issues that could have burned much hotter if requested information had been disclosed in a timely manner. No one else’s email “problems” come anywhere near that combined set of factors. Let us remain focused on the matter at hand.


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