Editorials

Clinton describes half of her predicament

Hillary Clinton attended the Iowa State Fair last week.
Hillary Clinton attended the Iowa State Fair last week. The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton was half-right the other day in Iowa.

“It’s not about emails or servers,” she said last weekend, cloistered as usual in a bubble of aides. “It’s about politics.”

Yes, the issue is one of politics. Clinton is the Democratic front-runner in the campaign to become leader of the free world. No fewer than 17 other candidates are attacking her at every stop. That’s the definition of politics.

But as reporters for McClatchy Newspapers’ bureau in Washington, D.C., are showing, the issue also is very much about emails. As secretary of state, Clinton sent and received tens of thousands of emails over a private Internet server based at her New York home, rather than the secure State Department server.

Clearly, Republicans hope to win the White House in 2016. But Hillary Clinton never should have carried out administration affairs over a private email account.

It was a stunning blunder by a candidate who has spent four decades on the public stage and premises her campaign on her experience.

At least 86 people, including lawmakers, Obama administration and State Department officials and lobbyists for foreign governments, sent emails to Clinton on her personal email address during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat.

State Department and intelligence officials are homing in on at least 305 of those emails to determine whether they contained classified information. At least two emails on her private account have been classified as top secret, McClatchy reported last week.

Clinton finally provided access to her server to the U.S. Justice Department last week, and her attorney, David Kendall, gave investigators a thumb drive that contained 30,000 Clinton emails.

McClatchy’s reporters found that Clinton’s most frequent contact outside the State Department was Sidney Blumenthal, a friend and adviser dating back to Bill Clinton’s administration. The two exchanged more than 120 emails on topics such as Benghazi, British politics and Iran.

Hillary Clinton’s practice of conducting government business over private email surfaced when a Romanian hacker who went by the name “Guccifer” wormed into Blumenthal’s email and posted texts on the Internet. Now, Republican legislators are asking whether or not Clinton’s email was hacked.

Which gets back to Clinton’s half-right, half-wrong statement. Clearly, Republicans who hope to win the White House in 2016 are motivated by politics. But the secretary of state never should have carried out administration affairs over private email. If that account was compromised, that’s worthy of yet more public discussion.

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