Todd: Hillary lost any high ground when she refused to turn over the server

“Now they’ve just got to hope nothing is found,” NBC’s Chuck Todd concludes in this short clip from MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today. The panel discussed the New York Times’ report on a request for a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail system, and the potential fallout from the new revelation that two Inspectors General believe classified material got transmitted through it. Hillary had a chance to get in front of the story and blew it, Todd states:

No, I think they blew it when they didn’t turn over the server immediately. I mean, I think this one of those things that they could have, they could have — instead of saying, ‘Well, the State Department, it’s up to the State Department to release the e-mails’ and all that, I think that they lost any high ground they could have had by being pro-active in, ‘Okay, here’s the server, Congress you can have it, take a look,’ giving off the perception ‘nothing to hide here,’ instead of sort of, while technically following the law and this and technically doing what they’re supposed to be — giving it to the State and let State do this.

They could have been more out front on this, particularly with that server. I don’t know if there’s anything they could do now to get out in front of it. I think now they’ve just got to hope nothing is found.

Todd’s correct … as far as he goes. Let’s play this out along a couple of lines of assumption. First, we’ll assume that the e-mail server issue is entirely innocent. We’d have to believe that the Clintons — one of the most politically astute teams in modern American history — fumbled such an easy call by opting for stonewalling over transparency when transparency would have acquitted Hillary. After 23 years in Washington DC and more than a decade prior to that in Arkansas politics at the highest levels, does anyone believe that the Clintons would have made that kind of mistake — especially with the presidency on the line?

That leaves us with the obvious conclusion that Hillary and her team had good reason not to provide that kind of transparency. We can assume that transparency would have done her even more political damage than their decision not to turn over the server — or disclose the fact of its existence until it was discovered independently. In that case, Hillary didn’t blow it by keeping the server secret — and the bet was always that nothing would be found. That’s why Hillary and her team wiped the server clean and still won’t turn it over.

Ron Fournier, who has covered the Clintons since their Arkansas days, gets closer to this than Todd does, but still doesn’t quite get there. Fournier writes says Hillary is destroying her credibility, which really seems to be the least of her issues at the moment. She’s blaming the Times for running the story, but Fournier laughs that off as absurd:

Here’s all you need to know: The Clinton campaign doesn’t – and can’t – deny the nut of this story. Two Obama administration inspectors general want a criminal investigation into whether her personal email system contributed to the release of classified information.

A rogue email system that:

— violated clear White House policy.

— shielded her work from congressional oversight, media inquiries, or any accountability.

— contributed to a conspiracy of secrecy worthy of criminal inquiry. …

Most people can sift through the spin, the lies, and the parsing to see the bottom line: She secreted and deleted her email for reasons we may never know. And she’s blaming everybody but the only person responsible for this mess, the only person who can clean it up: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We may never “know” the specific reasons that Hillary destroyed public records and covered up her e-mail system for several years, but we can certainly surmise that Hillary wanted no oversight on her operations. The evidence supporting those conclusions should be enough to warrant a criminal investigation, pronto.

Update: The AP linked to the string of memos from the IGs and Patrick Kennedy on the State Department’s FOIA process that preceded the request for a DoJ probe. These are not the request(s) for a criminal probe, but the work that went into the issue prior to the request. The IGs were especially concerned that State had put the e-mails from Clinton on a classified server even though they were subject to FOIAs, and that the material appeared to contain a significant amount of classified material. No doubt that was what prompted the request for a criminal probe.