Hillary Clinton’s team recently announced that they will be turning over the former Secretary of State’s private email server to the FBI. The move appears to be an attempt to quell speculation that Clinton is hiding information by not disclosing all of her emails, or for heavily redacting the emails that were officially made public by the State Department. It shows that Clinton is taking the government inquiry seriously, despite repeated insistences that she has nothing to hide.
The Clinton email scandal has been ongoing for several months now, but the decision to hand over all materials to the FBI represents a serious development. According to ABC News, at least two of the emails on Clinton’s server have already been deemed “TOP SECRET.” This is a potential problem for the presidential candidate, of course, because it would mean that sensitive government materials could have been discussed on a private email server. That’s been the main criticism of Clinton all along — that her use of a private email server created unnecessary security risks as well as transparency concerns. Some allege that it could be considered criminal activity.
There has been speculation that the reason Biden is considering a run for the White House in 2016 is to give the Democratic establishment a viable option should any further controversy arise out of Clinton’s Benghazi or email situations. It’s still unclear whether that’s the case, but it’s a fact that Clinton’s favorability and trustworthiness ratings have been dropping while left-leaning Bernie Sanders has been surging ahead in states like New Hampshire. Although the email scandal is not directly relevant to policy or to Clinton’s views on issues for the 2016 election, it will have a direct effect on the way voters perceive her. That lack of trust could cost her the presidency. If a criminal investigation continues, it could be disastrous for her political career.
In order to dispel conspiracy theorists and right-wing accusers, Clinton has an entire page dedicated to her State Department emails on her campaign website. The page offers a simple explanation for the entire controversy: “When Clinton got to the Department, she opted to use her personal email account as a matter of convenience. It enabled her to reach people quickly and keep in regular touch with her family and friends more easily given her travel schedule. That is the only reason she used her own account.” The page explains that other State Department officials were aware of her usage, and that it was not deemed unusual or unlawful at the time.
It would be unfortunate for a simple mistake like that to ruin Clinton’s chances, but it wouldn’t be the first time a seemingly innocuous blunder tanked presidential aspirations (see: Howard Dean’s scream). This would, however, show a much higher degree of political ineptitude. Clinton has decades of political experience in Washington, but the fact that the FBI is investigating her emails for including classified information on a private server shows that that experience could haunt her during her campaign. Thus far, she’s been able to avoid the controversy and maintain her status atop the Democratic primary field, and it seems unlikely that any serious criminal accusations will arise from the situation. Even so, Clinton has been steadily losing trust and favorability in voters. Although it has nothing to do with any of the issues pertinent to the 2016 presidential election, these emails could cost Clinton what would otherwise have been an easy campaign victory.
Image Source: 2016 Iowa Caucus