Clinton warning about ‘accessible’ email adds fuel to controversy

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are bemoaning “another headache” when it comes to her private email server, with a newfound email indicating she took pains to ensure the privacy of her personal messages while serving as secretary of State.

The November 2010 email, which Clinton neglected to turn over to the State Department and The Associated Press first reported, indicates that her emails were at one point being blocked by a spam filter at the department.

{mosads}Clinton’s emails were then being routed through a server at her home in New York, and Huma Abedin, a top aide, suggested the then-secretary get an official department email address. Clinton responded by saying, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” 

The statement is one of the most direct by Clinton about why she set up the private server.

“If Donald Trump didn’t have some major problems right now, I’d be worried,” one Clinton ally said. “It basically sums up that she was aware of what was happening. It’s yet another headache for us.” 

The steady drip of new information about the emails has provided an easy line of attack for Trump, who has taken to calling the Democrat “Crooked Hillary” as their focus moves to the November presidential election.

One former senior aide to President Obama who supports Clinton said the continuous email story “gives Trump something he can hammer her on it’s something that the Republican base can actually rally behind.”

“It adds fuel to the fire,” the supporter said. “Anytime there’s another drip, voters are distracted from whatever dumb thing Trump is saying so it’s not helpful. The more things that come out, the more it highlights the larger trust problem.” 

Clinton’s use of the private server has dogged her campaign since she revealed it to the public last year. The FBI appears to be investigating whether Clinton or her associates broke the law by using the setup for official use. FBI officials have said they are taking their time in the case and haven’t issued a time frame for a final decision.

In the meantime, Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said the controversy is the “continuing story that plagues the Clinton campaign.” 

“The great danger is to her credibility because this has gone on for a long time and there are various incompatible details about why she did the things she did and it reminds people that they have been for decades been suspicious of the Clintons,” Jillson said. 

The Republican National Committee (RNC) pounced on the email revelation this week. Spokesman Michael Short said that “the fact that such a key email, which contained damning information about her use of a private server, was not turned over casts doubt on the notion that this may have been an oversight and raises questions about what other work-related emails may have been deleted or inappropriately withheld.” 

At the same time, RNC officials have highlighted another report that found omissions in Clinton’s State Department schedule that concealed dozens of meetings with Democratic donors and operatives. 

Documents obtained by The Associated Press this week as part of a lawsuit involving the Obama administration showed at least 75 meetings with longtime backers of her political efforts, the Clinton Foundation or other interests that were either not included on her official calendar or did not disclose who attended.

There were at least 114 nongovernmental officials who attended those meetings and meals with Clinton, the AP found.

The State Department declined to discuss the omissions on Friday. 

“Regardless of the ongoing litigation, I am not in a position — nor should I be expected to — to speak of the scheduling habits of a previous secretary of State,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “I’m not able to do that.” 

And as far as the email controversy is concerned, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said he doubts the saga will do much damage to Clinton’s campaign.

“The worst of the email damage is already done,” Simmons said. “There are some people who care and think it’s disqualifying, and there are others who don’t. I just don’t know that more information about the emails matters to voters. In this election, she’s going to win by getting strong Democratic turnout and getting a few voters out of the middle.”

Asked how the narrative might affect supporters of Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, Simmons replied, “Bernie supporters who don’t like Hillary already don’t like Hillary. I don’t know if they need another reason to feel this way. 

“The question for the Clinton campaign is what they can do to get them to vote for her despite any strong misgivings.”

Another Democratic strategist said while it’s “Democratic bed-wetting season and a lot of people are missing the forest for the trees, Clinton is doing fine” while Trump is “imploding.”

“He’s not ahead in any battleground states while Clinton’s electoral map is expanding,” the strategist said. “He has raised no money and he just fired his campaign manager because you can’t fire the candidate.”

“I’d rather have stories about emails than stories about a nominee’s racism or incompetence or both,” the strategist added. “Is Clinton a great, natural candidate? No. Have her decades as a political target made her a little paranoid and led to mistakes like this email distraction? Absolutely. Is any of this a revelation? Nope.” 

Julian Hattem contributed.


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