William Boardman | Reader Supported News | May 16, 2016
It’s the server, stupid!
t’s not yet clear whether Hillary Clinton will be indicted. It’s not even clear in the broader sense whether Hillary Clinton should be indicted. But it’s crystal clear that, even on the limited amount of credible evidence now available, Hillary Clinton could be indicted. She could be indicted for what might be characterized as privatizing her government office. That, in effect, is what the Secretary of State did when she moved pretty much all her public government communication to a private email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. That deployment of a private server for a government official is, as far as we know, unprecedented. The public business of the Secretary of State does not belong in anyone’s private domain. It’s a gross violation of sane and honest public policy. And it’s also illegal.
That’s why Hillary Clinton could be indicted. She has committed a unique offense. But how serious is the offense? Until the FBI completes its investigation, including thousands of emails as well as the server, we can’t begin to know what weight to give it legally. Politically, we can infer that the Clinton camp is terrified of any full reckoning, since Clinton and her surrogates have been minimizing and lying about the case from the beginning.
When Bernie Sanders said in an early debate that people were sick and tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails,” he may well have executed a shrewd and deft bit of political jiu jitsu. First, he framed himself as more interested in substantive issues, rather than political gossip. He surely knew that, if an email of actual importance turned up, the case would take on a well-deserved life of its own. Meanwhile he could take the high road, ignoring mere peccadillos. And quite possibly, Sanders understood even then that the core issue was the server, not the emails, and that the FBI under James Comey was a good bet to carry out a thorough and honorable investigation. Sanders successfully took a principled position on the “damn emails,” while knowing that all he had to do was wait to make the move a win-win for him (if that’s the way it would turn out, with nothing to lose if it didn’t).