Mitchell: Experts can find no reason for a private e-mail system except to thwart oversight

The media seems ready to turn on the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal, if one uses MSNBC as a gauge. It’s not a surprise to see Joe Scarborough, a center-right host, focusing intently and in detail on the wide range of issues and potential crimes that Hillary and her team may have committed. However, his sparring partner Mika Brzezinski also seems horrified by the IG referral to the DoJ and FBI, along with the report that four out of a sample of 40 e-mails sent by Hillary and reviewed by the intelligence community contained material that was classified when it was sent and remains classified to this day. And following the discussion during the earlier segment of Morning Joe, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell followed it up with a surprising — but common-sensical — assessment of the scandal in a nutshell, although not without providing a rationalization or two along the way (emphasis mine, via The Blaze and Mediaite):


MITCHELL: Look, you have two inspectors general, and they are referring this to the Justice Department. Now, you can try to confuse and there’s been a lot of misdirection, there’s been inaccurate reporting. …

What they are suggesting is that there were classified — four out of the forty randomly selected [emails] had classified information, and it was not information that was later upgraded to be classified. It was information that was classified as, quote, secret, which is its level of classification at the time.

This gets very confusing, and it can be confused further by statements on all sides. That said, the original sin, if you will, is having a private e-mail system.

BRZEZINSKI: [crosstalk] It’s unfixable. It’s unfixable.

MITCHELL: I was at a security conference speaking to intelligence officials on all sides, and to the Attorney General, and we’ll talk about that later. But nobody can give an explanation for why a Cabinet Secretary would have a private e-mail system, other than to thwart inquiries, FOIAs, and someone who had spent 20 years fighting off many investigations, many of which were unwarranted and many of which led nowhere, and so you understand the defensive approach that a lot of Clinton people were in. But it still doesn’t explain why going from the Senate into a Cabinet level position there was a private e-mail system.

That’s the critical problem for media outlets that want to dismiss this or rationalize it as just another attack on the Clintons. There is no explanation for the home-brew e-mail system, and the only way one can ignore the obvious motivations for it — to cover up what was being done — is to pretend that a sitting Secretary of State can work for four years without ever sending or receiving classified data through an e-mail system. That was absurd on its face from the beginning, but most of the media seemed inclined to treat it as “no harm, no foul” simply on Hillary Clinton’s claim alone.


Now, however, the IG referral makes that impossible. It may not be a “criminal referral” at the moment, but the FBI doesn’t investigate referrals to assess civil penalties, and IGs don’t send referrals to the FBI unless they see evidence that a crime may have been committed. The pretense of nothing but pleasantries and scheduling routing through the “clintonemail” server has been shattered, and now the media has to scramble to cover it more seriously.

National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who has been asking tough questions for months about the scandal, agrees that the private server is the “original sin,” echoing Mitchell. But it’s obvious that it was intended to keep people from finding out about other sins, and Fournier wants to know what those were:

Clinton regrets being too transparent in the same way a bank robber might second-guess his confession.

“This is all about my desire to have transparency and to make the information public.” If your eyes aren’t rolling, you’re not paying attention.

Clinton has put herself in a box. She can either hand the server over to an independent third party, who would protect her private email and our government’s working email. Or she can stonewall.

The latter course gives every voter the right – and every self-respecting journalist the responsibility – to ask, “What were you hiding, Hillary?”

What are you hiding?

Maybe the rest of the media will finally come out of hiding, too.


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