Hillary Clinton’s big news conference on her email situation made news, because it raised more questions than it answered:
1. How is it possible for Hillary to have served four years as Secretary of State without sending or receiving a single classified or sensitive email, as she claimed?
2. Hillary claimed that her private mail server was created for Bill Clinton while he was President. Was she really managing her email with a server that was at least a decade old? What operating system was it running?
3. Hillary claims that she only deleted personal email from her server, including a number of messages exchanged with her husband. However, Bill Clinton has claimed that he does not use email. Not long before Hillary’s press conference began, his spokesman claimed he has sent exactly two emails during his life, and both were sent during his presidency. Was Hillary corresponding with someone who deceived her by pretending to be Bill Clinton, or are one or both of the Clintons making false statements about their email habits?
4. We have only Mrs. Clinton’s vague personal assurances that the server was secure. Precisely what security precautions were taken, beyond tasking Secret Service agents to physically protect the machine from theft? What IT professionals and cyber-security experts did she retain to secure the server? Did those individuals have the appropriate national security clearances to work on the Secretary of State’s email system? Why is she so adamant about refusing to allow trustworthy third parties to examine it? And were proper procedures put in place to mitigate the possibility a “backdoor” was installed that would offer outside parties easy access to her server?
5. Clinton’s primary excuse for setting up a private mail server is that she wanted all of her mail in one place, so she could retrieve it with a single phone, rather than carrying two cell phones. This story is difficult to credit for a number of reasons, and would not reflect well on Clinton’s regard for national security even if taken at face value – she moved to a less secure communications environment to spare herself the inconvenience of carrying a small electronic device that weighs a few ounces? What steps have other Cabinet members and high-ranking officials taken to avoid this minor difficulty? How many of them are running private servers located in their homes?
6. Two weeks ago, she claimed in a television interview that she does carry two smart phones, specifically an iPhone and a BlackBerry, plus an iPad and an iPad Mini. How can she reconcile that statement with today’s press conference? (Note that State Department officials have said Clinton was notoriously determined to use Apple computer products, even though State’s security systems required the use of a BlackBerry.) If she plans to claim that she carries two phones now, but found that an intolerable burden when she was Secretary of State, how does she explain her change of heart?
6. When the obvious point that modern cell phones can easily handle multiple email accounts was raised after Clinton’s appearance, it was said on her behalf that State Department policy required the use of separate devices to check State and personal accounts, for security reasons. Is this true, and if so, why would that policy be considered inviolate, while Clinton chose to regard the prohibition against personal mail systems as a mere suggestion? Running a private personal server for all correspondence, including sensitive government material, hardly seems like less of a security risk than checking two mail accounts on the same personal device.
7. Clinton claimed that she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong by setting up her mail server. However, she signed off on a memo warning far less important State Department personnel to avoid using personal email in 2011. She also forced the resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, in part because he used personal email. Was Mrs. Clinton’s signature falsified on these memos and actions, did she sign them without being aware of what she was endorsing, or did she unilaterally decide the Secretary of State should be immune to requirements imposed on employees in far less sensitive positions?
8. Clinton insists that the 30,000 emails she has deleted – purportedly about half of the correspondence stored on her server – was personal in nature. Who made that determination, and what criteria were used? Even if her claims are taken at face value, it seems unlikely Clinton herself reviewed the messages one at a time. Who assisted her in this task, and what security clearance did they possess?
9. Why act so quickly to destroy all that “personal” email? It’s not as if mass data storage is expensive these days. Wouldn’t it have been prudent to keep everything on file, knowing that a four-year tenure as Secretary of State and impending presidential campaign would make her emails matters of interest? The examples she gave of “personal” mail at her press conference included “planning Chelsea’s wedding, my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations.” Why would it be necessary to vaporize any of that?
10. Why did Clinton provide her top aides accounts on her private server? Were they also unable to deal with the impossible burden of carrying two cell phones?
11. Why did Clinton print hard copies of the emails she decided to hand over? The obvious reason is that printing them on paper makes them harder to search. Can she provide a more legitimate rationale?
12. How does Clinton explain the gaps in her correspondence, lasting for “months and months,” described by Rep. Trey Gowdy? Was her private server down for months at a stretch? If so, how can she possibly claim it was reliable and secure technology, and what did she do for email while the server was down?
13. It doesn’t appear that Hillary’s email server was searched in response to Freedom of Information Act requests; she refused to answer a direct question on the matter. How can she possibly reconcile this with any possible definition of “transparency?” Does she believe the Secretary of State is immune to the Freedom of Information Act?
14. President Obama has claimed that he didn’t find out about Hillary’s private server until he saw it mentioned in news reports last week. How could the Secretary of State possibly have thought it was acceptable to run such a system without notifying the President?
15. Clinton did not turn any of her correspondence over to the State Department until they specifically requested it, and the State Department eventually admitted it didn’t ask until prompted by the House investigation of Benghazi in 2013. (There were supposedly other factors, but State has not identified any of them.) Why does Mrs. Clinton keep claiming that she volunteered this information, when she did not? Why didn’t she promptly volunteer the information long before her former department came asking for it? She seems to think the archiving of email by other government employees was sufficient to cover her correspondence… but what about email she sent to people outside the U.S. government, or perhaps other government employees who decided to emulate her by running private mail servers?
16. Why did Clinton hold her Tuesday press conference at the United Nations, without providing ample opportunity for American political journalists to obtain credentials for the event?
17. Will Clinton apologize to the Bush Administration officials she castigated for using personal email? If not, why not?
18. What proof, beyond her word, can Clinton offer that any of her assertions about her private mail system are true? Would she accept unverified personal assurances from other officials, particularly in a Republican administration, about such matters?
19. We now know that the White House and State Department were officially aware of Clinton’s personal mail system no later than August of last year. Why didn’t Clinton come forward at that time to announce the existence of this extraordinary system and explain her rationale for setting it up? Why did she wait until the current controversy had been raging for the better part of two weeks before making a statement? Why did she allow the Obama White House and State Department to make so many incorrect statements about the situation and retract them later, as the story developed, instead of acting swiftly to get the facts as she saw them on the record?