Please just tell us: Is this as bad as it gets on Hillary’s emails?

This just in:

State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices

The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that she failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that department staff would not have given its blessing because of the “security risks in doing so.”

Her official SecState portrait.

Her official SecState portrait.

The inspector general, in a long awaited review obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post in advance of its publication, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.

The report says Clinton, who is the Democratic presidential front-runner, should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Instead, Clinton provided those records in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office….

There’s further stuff supporting that “sharply critical” language in the headline. But there are also findings that support the Clinton campaign’s claim that she did nothing unusual. Colin Powell comes in for some sharp criticism himself:

It was particularly critical of former secretary of state Colin Powell — who has acknowledged publicly that he used a personal email account to conduct business — concluding that he too failed to follow department policy designed to comply with public-record laws….

Which, of course, doesn’t make it right, boss. But it does mean Secretary Clinton wasn’t acting outside of the norm.

So what I want to know is, is this as bad as it gets? If so, this seems survivable — “not an appropriate method” is tepid stuff. Sounds kind of like Well, it wasn’t the best way, but…

Or is there worse stuff to come, stuff that will cripple her as a candidate? If there is, I wish it would hurry so that the Democrats will have time to replace her with someone who can win. Because Trump must be stopped….

26 thoughts on “Please just tell us: Is this as bad as it gets on Hillary’s emails?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    So yeah, this simply confirms what people who were paying attention already knew: As SECSTATE, Hillary violated a bunch of laws and regulations, then flagrantly lied about it.

    By the way, there’s a huge difference between using personal e-mail inappropriately and systematically having your staff circumvent tons of laws/regs.

    Hillary 2016!

    1. Doug Ross

      But, but, Colin Powell did it. So it’s okay!

      Just like Mark Sanford cheated on his wife. That makes it okay for Bill Clinton to do it, too!

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      You’re not going to see me saying “Hillary 2016!” At least, not with an exclamation point. Like Stephen Maturin, I am dismissive of such enthusiasm.

      But remember: The alternative to Hillary 2016 is Trump 2016. That’s the choice we get.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Just a good ol’ girl
        Never meaning no harm
        Been in trouble with the law since the day she was born
        Usin’ servers
        Hidin’ e-mails
        Some day the mountain may get her
        But the law never will

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t think I’d call her a good ol’ girl. She’s a hard case, with ambition of a sort that makes you want to step back a bit when you behold it, and a Nixonian paranoia that walls her off from people.

          But yeah, now that Kasich’s gone, she’s all we’ve got standing in the breech…

    3. Assistant

      Via Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo today:

      “The media was abuzz a few months back when it emerged that Brian Pagliano, the old Clinton hand who was placed on the State Department payroll to service Hillary’s homebrew server, had been given immunity for prosecution in exchange for cooperating with the FBI. Why was it such a big story? Because the conferral of immunity implied that Pagliano believed he’d be incriminating himself if he cooperated with investigators. Well . . . what are we to make of the refusal by Clinton [and aides] to cooperate with the Obama State Department IG?”

      Maybe Hillary should have called him and said “Vince, er, sorry, Brian…”

  2. Michael Bramson

    Politics aside, when is our society going to recognize the importance of information security? Between this scandal, repeated theft of credit card information databases from retailers, hospitals having patient information held hostage by ransomware, the Sony leak from a while back, and on and on, you’d think that executives would get a clue that they need to invest seriously in computer security and listen to the recommendations of their IT staff.

    1. JesseS

      Yeah, that’s the annoying part. The event sounds less like nefarious criminal motive and more of an incompetent middle-management mindset.

      I’m sure she was telling staff that she “wanted it to do that thing” and they responded with “reasons” and she said she didn’t want “reasons”, she wanted results. So they made “that thing do that thing she wanted it to do”.

      Then again I could be projecting.

  3. Assistant

    This is the OIG report, so it focuses on making sure an agency operates efficiently, effectively and legally. OIG reports are prepared for the head of the agency and is supposed to be forwarded along with any comments, explanations and corrective plans, to Congress within seven days. All cases involving suspected violations of federal laws are reported to the Department of Justice, via the Attorney General.

    There is some juicier stuff than what Brad highlighted. Here’s one semi-confusing passage:

    On January 9, 2011, the non-Departmental advisor to President Clinton who provided technical support to the Clinton email system notified the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations that he had to shut down the server because he believed “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt [sic] want to let them have the chance to.” Later that day, the advisor again wrote to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, “We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.” On January 10, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations emailed the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and instructed them not to email the Secretary “anything sensitive” and stated that she could “explain more in person.”

    There are several instances where State employees apparently using the Clinton email thought they were being hacked, but no proof.

    So not much here, but we should not have expected there to be much. The juicy part — what was in those emails, how did any classified information get into the emails, etc. — will have to wait, maybe a long time.

    I noted that there were several news items out about that wild and crazy Guccifer, but one has to take what he says with a hefty bag of salt. He implies that he broke into Clinton’s server, but I doubt that he has the skill set for that. He does know the AOL password security help system, is good at guessing email addresses and email passwords. He certainly did break into Colin Powell’s email account in a clever manner. By using the email address books, he got more addresses and busted another account or two. His big find was Hillary’s buddy, Sid Vicious, where he apparently had free reign over the entire account. That’s the way I think that Guccifer read Hillary’s emails. I suspect that Cheryl Mills and Huma Weiner send Sid scanned emails that he’d digest into a nice little summary that Hillary could use to prepare for meetings or teleconferences. And that’s where part of the criminality lies because the scanned material was classified.

    That’s the part I’m waiting for.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      So you’re saying Guccifer is just a big talker, like Eugene on “The Walking Dead.” I’ve just gotten to that part, so if you haven’t,


      Guccifer is not a scientist. He doesn’t know the answer. He can’t restore the world…

      1. Assistant

        Guccifer (Marcel Lehel Lazar) is half-hat (five gallons?) and has cattle. He did have access to emails sent by Hillary and her inner circle — the folks who would not talk to the IG — to Sid Blumenthal, as well as the emails he sent her; Russia today published some of the Blumenthal emails Guccifer released, and they are interesting and incriminating.

        First, they’re written in the curt, dry style used in intelligence reports, indicating that Sid, a non-intel type, had either mastered the process or, more likely, cut and paste from reports to assemble the email. Where would he have gotten such reports?

        Second, the email quotes sources barely 24 hours after the conversation occurred. No news reports or other media posts anywhere on the web have that level of detail and sourcing before the dates cited in Sid’s email. How is that possible?

        Third, take a gander at the sources, high-level, no? How’d Sid arrange that?

        The only plausible explanation is that Hillary’s minions sent multiple incoming reports received via the SIPRNET to Sid for him to assemble into a comprehensive report in a style the minions and Sid new would be useful to Hillary. To do so, the minions most likely read the reports on a computer in one of the State’s secure areas, printed the reports, carried them out of the secure area, trimmed off the classifications and caveats, scanned them into an unclassified PC, and emailed them to Sid. (They would have had to go with the print and scan because the USB ports on PCs within the secure area should have been disabled or encrypted, as would any CD-ROMs or other I/O devices except for printers.)

        So I’m just waiting for all this to become public. Then I will put up the sign and wear the T-shirt I’ve already purchased, both of which read: Hillary for Prison, 2016!

    2. Assistant

      One other troubling excerpt shines a light on the tension between the gang accompanying incoming political appointees — folks loyal to the newly appointed chief — and career folks, some quite junior, who’ve adopted the ethos of the organization. From Politico (as well as other sources):

      “In one meeting, one staff member raised concerns that information sent and received on Secretary Clinton’s account could contain Federal records that needed to be preserved in order to satisfy Federal recordkeeping requirements,” the report noted.

      The staff member recalled that the director said Clinton’s personal system had already been reviewed and approved by legal staff “and that the matter was not to be discussed any further,” according to the report’s language.

      “As previously noted, OIG found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system,” the next line of the report reads.

      The other staff member who raised concerns said the director stated that the department’s mission is to “support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”

      So there, youngsters, mind your place and stay loyal to the boss.

      Such crap can’t be tolerated in any healthy organization. The message from the top has to be the hierarchy must earn respect while all obey the rules and the spirit that promulgated them.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Staffers in the State Department were told “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again”.

        “Shut up” they explained.

    1. Assistant

      bud –

      Hillary managed to give the Rooskies only 20% of US uranium.

      Russia bought 20 percent of all uranium production capacity in the US, a deal that needed to be signed off on by the State Department when it was headed by Hillary Clinton. While the deal was going through, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow, paid for by a Russian investment bank promoting the uranium deal.

      Kurzin, meanwhile, donated $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

      Do you think Bernie will fork over the remaining 80% or settle for some lower percentage? What’s his price for the deal, does he give it away or get a piece of the action?

      1. Phillip

        Assistant, you haven’t been paying attention to the Democratic race, evidently. Any sales of uranium production capacity to the Russians is not based on ideology: it’s good old capitalism. Mega-capitalism, or hyper-capitalism, basically decrees that if a big deal can be made and lots of money made in the process, it’s a good thing, regardless of who the client is.

        The air of suspicion and mistrust that most Sanders’ supporters have about the Clintons’ connection to big money and Wall Street is the whole raison d’être for his candidacy. Whatever Bernie’s faults are in your eyes, I can tell you he’s not about to sell off uranium production capacity to the Russians for “a piece of the action.” Have you seen Bernie’s suits?

        1. Assistant

          The Clintons, and for that matter, the Obama crew, don’t understand capitalism per se, but practice crony-capitalism. There’s a big difference in that the latter is the norm in a rigged market where friends purchase the right not to compete, but to win. That’s what the uranium deal was all about. And the Obama crew firmly established too big to fail by rigging regulations against the smaller banks. Just ask any of the few small bankers left.

          I was just wondering if Bernie was going to turn out like most of the other successful socialists, poor or middle-class until they get to power, then boom, it’s payday!

          Take Hugo Chavez (please!) and his successor, Maduro. Together with their cronies they’ve looted the economy of about $350B. Hugo’s daughter alone is estimated to be worth $2B. Meanwhile the country is at the start of a horrific humanitarian disaster: hospitals have no drugs, bandages, or even cleaning supplies to wash the blood off the operating room floor; infant mortality has skyrocketed over the past month, electricity is available for only a few hours several days a week, riots and lynchings occur daily throughout the country, and there’s no beer or toilet paper. Or food. Thousands will die before any sort of relief effort can be mounted.

          The stupendous irony is that Venezuela is rich in natural resources: diamonds, bauxite, gold, iron ore, natural gas and petroleum. Its proven oil reserves are greater than Saudi Arabia’s! Among Chavez’ mistakes was nationalizing all the companies that had the brainpower to extract these materials and generate wealth, thereby chasing out the people who know how to make things work. Venezuela is just one more example where socialism starts as liberalization and ends in Stalinism.

          Robert A. Heinlein said it best:

          Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

          This is known as “bad luck.”

          Yup, bad luck strikes Venezuela. Bernie’s not got much to say about that.

  4. Phillip

    I got news for you: all capitalism, if left completely unregulated and unchecked, becomes “crony capitalism” once some entities gain sufficient concentration of wealth/power/influence. I’m not going to waste a breath defending the indefensible, Venezuela’s corrupt government. Any ideology pursued to the extreme is dangerous. As has been pointed out many times in this space, Bernie is “democratic socialist” and in truth, he’s basically a New Deal Democrat in an age (speaking 1980 to the present) when the pendulum has swung radically to the right, towards the concentration of wealth and the concomitant erosion of social cohesion. His economic prescriptions are only “extreme” if you take the current status to be the acceptable norm.

    In other words, think Copenhagen rather than Caracas.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      In other words, think Copenhagen rather than Caracas.

      Yeah, but I don’t want the USA to be Denmark.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          We can’t be the happiest. We have too much responsibility for that.

          Thailand is pretty happy, even though they’ve got troubles galore.

          When the military junta took over a couple of years back to end the political unrest, they had one command to give the country: Everybody chill, be happy.

          Most Thais have complied, from what I saw last year…

    2. Brad Warthen


      Like the snuff, right?

      Sorry, but Bernie’s smoldering class resentment is pretty out there…

      And his willingness to drag the Democratic Party down with him, helping Trump, well,…

      Dang! Everybody gets on my case when I say “nihilism”…

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      “concomitant” is an interesting word.

      Forms of the Latin word “cum,” for “with,” appear in it together, one right after the other — “con-,” “com-“…

      At the moment, I can’t think of such a redundantly constructed polysyllabic, Latin-derived word in English..


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