Hillary Clinton’s political career and potential presidential candidacy are both at a turning point. She has been under the spotlight for several weeks because her choice to use personal email while Secretary of State sparked a national debate that keeps raging on. Now, Clinton is trying to get things back on track, but what she may have done is still a subject that her critics keep going back to.
Clinton made it easy for Republican supporters to target both her and the White House during the scandal. While she claims the law that prohibited the use of personal accounts to conduct official business was not in place at the time she became Secretary of State, and the presidential administration was aware of her choice, the boundaries between her declarations and reality don’t seem to be a fixed line.
President Obama said a few weeks ago that he learned Clinton is using a private email “The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” He did however support her while she had been Secretary of State and admitted that no one ever asked her to use a secure email account. Security specialists began questioning Mr. Obama’s statement lately, since the White House needed to know Clinton’s email address in order to communicate with the State Department.
Clinton couldn’t have received in person all the data she needed to do her job, according to the experts, thus making it virtually impossible the presidential staff did not mail her some of the information. An information security specialist who preferred to remain anonymous told reporters that “Notices of meetings, agendas, outcome documents, action plans. Some of this would have been received by the Secretary’s staff but some of it would have gone directly to a private email address.”
White House Spokesman Josh Earnest came with a distinction last week, explaining that although President Obama knew Clinton’s email address, he “was not aware of the details of how that e-mail address and how that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the.”
Federal Records Act prohibits government employees of all ranks to use Web-based email for official matters “due to inherent security flaws.” Government systems are thought to be more resilient to hacker attacks, and analysts believe Clinton’s private account was a target for attacks due to her VIP status alone, besides her role as Secretary of State.
Federal law however does not allow intrusion into someone’s private data, an issue that has also been intensely debate lately. Hillary Clinton expressed her will to cooperate with the authorities to make sure no damage was done. Clinton said she corresponded through her private email account with more than 100 officials during her time at the State Department.
She then assigned her own staff to carefully select relevant material to be reviewed by federal authorities, which resulted in 55,000 pages sent to the State Department. Clinton also admitted that around 35,000 more emails have been deleted by her staff, as part of her personal mail. Since the feds have no way to verify the content of the deleted mail, Clinton’s word is the only proof they have.
Can Clinton still run for the White House?
Part of the mail content that leaked into the press showed some of Hillary Clinton’s personal mail addressed internal politics issues, such as her mail exchange with Sidney Blumenthal. A close Clinton collaborator from the time her husband was still president, Blumenthal has worked as one of her “campaign agents” lately and, as the emails show, was tasked by the former Secretary of State to strike at her rivals.
According to a recent Reuters poll, Clinton’s popularity within the Democratic party took a sensible hit because of the scandal. While some time ago she was comfortably leading in the Democratic charts, now the poll says support her candidacy dropped about 15 percentage points since mid-February within her own party, with no more than 45 percent of Democrats saying they would still support her as presidential prospect.
Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt, who used to work as spokesman for President Barack Obama in his 2012 campaign, thinks that the scandal was the impulse Hillary Clinton needed to start organizing her campaign. She already began to gather many top political communicators around her, including former Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon, White House aide Jennifer Palmieri and Democratic congressional campaigns press officer Jesse Ferguson.
The Democratic nomination is still pretty much Clinton’s to lose, and she is expected to officially announce her run for the 2016 presidential elections as early as next month. The Reuters poll showed that support for her is still high, even as two-thirds of democrats are aware of the email scandal, and almost half of them think it hurt her image. One of the participants in the poll summed it up pretty well: “I admire the fact that she has been so strong on a lot of different things, she stands up for what she believes in, but I do think the emails will hurt her, unfortunately,” Patricia Peacock from Lewiston, Maine, told interviewers.
Hillary Clinton seems to be more focused on the campaign ahead for her than on trying to settle once and for the all the private email scandal. Her posts on social media are sending political messages on issues such as college affordability, jobs, civil rights and health care. She seems to have left the scandal behind her, and she can only hope the American public opinion will do the same soon if she is to become the first female US president.
Image Source: Fox News
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