Editorial: Clinton’s email flop ‘extremely careless’

The Detroit News, DetroitNews

The FBI’s determination that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges for her improper use of an unsecured private email server while secretary of state vindicates her claim throughout this presidential campaign that she did not break the law. But the evidence presented by FBI Director James Comey Tuesday counters her contention that she “did nothing wrong.”

While Comey’s decision ends the legal threat facing Clinton, it does not erase legitimate questions about her judgment and her penchant for placing her own self-interest ahead of the country’s.

Clinton has repeatedly said none of the thousands of emails were “marked classified” at the time they were received by or sent from her private server, which was in her New York home.

But Comey said 110 of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed did contain classified information, and three were marked classified when they were sent or received by Clinton.

Comey, in stating that “no charges are appropriate in this case,” did not spare the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee from blistering criticism.

He said the former secretary of state and her top aides were “extremely careless” in handling sensitive information and that it is possible that enemies of the United States had obtained access to her personal email account.

“There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position ... should have known that an unclassified system was no place” for sensitive conversations, said Comey, according to an Associated Press report.

This is hardly a triumphant moment for Clinton.

She is running for president on her record and resume, hoping to convince voters of her superior decision-making ability and her ability to manage a crisis.

In May, a critical audit was released by the State Department’s inspector general, the agency’s internal watchdog, which found Clinton and her staff disregarded warnings about the risks of maintaining the unsecured server. The audit also refuted her repeated statements that she had asked for and received permission to use the private server and followed department protocol.

Clinton did not commit a crime, according to the FBI’s exhaustive investigation. But she has lied about the server repeatedly, saying that no email she sent or received was marked classified. The FBI’s evidence makes it clear her claims have been false. Lying for political purposes may be common, but it is still not a desirable quality in a president.

The FBI also interviewed Clinton’s top aides as part of the probe. One of those questioned, Huma Abedin, now the vice chair of her campaign, reportedly told agents that Clinton routinely placed copies of her schedule in a “burn bag” to be destroyed, again contrary to department policy regarding public records.

The destruction of the schedules and thousands of emails that were not available for FBI review reflects a worrisome obsession with secrecy, considering Clinton could well end up as president. What do her actions as secretary of state suggest about the transparency of her presidency?

Late last month, a Republican-led House committee report on the Benghazi embassy attack called into question the candidate’s crisis management skills, as well as her veracity.

The FBI investigation, a nonpartisan effort unlike the GOP Benghazi report, raises questions about her leadership that she must answer on the campaign trail.