this article I have pointed out on this blog repeatedly.
Seeing it laid out in a time line is however rather revealing. (There are also a number of editorial comments so take note.)
Here we go:
So here's a timeline of the email server affair. FAIR WARNING: It's not a complete timeline. Google has plenty of those for you. It's a timeline that highlights a few very specific things that I think even a lot of liberals never quite understood. Let's start:
March 2009: Two months after being confirmed as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton makes the fateful decision to host her unclassified email on a private server.
THIS IS IMPORTANT. Everybody at the State Department has an unclassified email account. In the aughts, most used state.gov alone, but lots of people also used Gmail or another commercial email service. These accounts are used routinely for day-to-day business, but only for unclassified material. There is an entirely different system for classified communications. The only way that Clinton's email account differed from a state.gov account is that it was hosted on a private server.
September 12, 2012: The American consulate in Benghazi is attacked. Even though Clinton is literally faultless in this,1 conservatives begin a four-year campaign of investigations, subpoenas, and conspiracy theories that are plainly little more than partisan attacks designed to smear Clinton.
February 2013: Clinton steps down as secretary of state.
September 2013: The National Archives updates its regulations on the handling of email and other public records.
October 2014: After yet another records request in the Benghazi affair, the State Department asks all former secretaries of state for any official records in their possession.
December 2014: After removing her personal emails, Clinton delivers all her official emails to the State Department. Her staff asks Clinton what they should do with the personal emails, and she tells them she no longer needs them. The hosting company in Colorado, Platte River Networks, is instructed to delete Clinton's existing email archives and to thenceforth preserve new emails for 60 days before deleting them.
March 2015: The New York Times reveals that Clinton's emails were hosted on a private server. The Benghazi zealots immediately subpoena her email server.
March 2015: A Platte River tech discovers that he never deleted the email archives. At this point, even though Clinton's staff has notified him not to make any changes (due to the subpoena), he deletes the old archive.
THIS IS IMPORTANT. It is now six years since Clinton began her tenure at the State Department and two years since she left. In that entire time, there was never any concern over the possibility that Clinton sent or received classified material over unclassified channels. In fact, I don't think there has ever been any official concern about any secretary of state sending classified information over unclassified channels.
March 2015: Republicans in Congress ask the inspectors general of both the State Department and the intelligence community to review Clinton's email practices. Their letter states, "We are concerned that diplomatically sensitive, and possibly classified, information may have been transmitted and stored in an insecure manner."
July 2015: The IC inspector general tells Congress that it found classified information in a small sample of Clinton's email that it reviewed. Both inspectors general ask the Justice Department to review all of Clinton's email for a "potential compromise of classified information." This is the start of the FBI investigation.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Although the referral came from both IGs, the underlying issue is an ancient feud between the State Department and the CIA. The CIA basically wants to classify everything. The State Department, which has to work in the real world, takes the pragmatic view that classified information sometimes has to be discussed over unclassified channels. It just has to done carefully and circuitously.
July 2016: After a full year, the FBI finally concludes its investigation. Normally, FBI officials merely turn over their recommendations to prosecutors at the Justice Department, but this time FBI Director James Comey decides to host a detailed press conference about the investigation. He says Clinton did nothing illegal, a conclusion that he later describes as "not even a close call." However, he also declares that Clinton was "extremely careless" with her email.
August 2016: The FBI releases its interview notes, which make it clear that Comey exaggerated wildly in his press conference. Clinton's archives contained only three trivial emails that were marked classified. A couple of thousand more emails were retroactively classified. Should they have been? The CIA says yes. Clinton says no: They were carefully worded discussions between professionals who knew perfectly well how to conduct conversations like this. Comments from other State Department officials back up Clinton's view. There was, it turns out, little evidence that anyone was careless, let alone "extremely careless," but since the emails are now classified, no one will ever know for sure.2
October 2016: Two weeks before Election Day, Comey writes a letter announcing that the FBI has discovered records of emails between Clinton and her aide, Huma Abedin, on the computer of Abedin's estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. There is nothing unexpected about this. All of Clinton's aides probably have copies of emails from her, and as we now know, the FBI had no reason to think Abedin's emails were anything they hadn't already seen. But Comey declines to say any of this in his letter and the press goes nuts.
November 6, 2016: Comey announces that the investigation is over and none of the Abedin emails were relevant.
November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States.
This is how the article ends:
The bottom line is simple: There was never any real reason for either the IG investigations or the FBI investigation. And in the end, the FBI found nothing out of the ordinary—just the usual State-CIA squabbling. Nevertheless, under pressure from Republicans, Comey spent a full year on the investigation; reported its conclusions in the most damaging possible way; and then did it again two weeks before the election. Because of this, Clinton lost about 2 percent of the vote, and the presidency.
Liberals should have defended her with gusto from the start. There was never anything here and no evidence that Clinton did anything seriously wrong. And yet we didn't. Many liberals just steered clear of the whole thing. Others—including me sometimes—felt like every defense had to contain a series of caveats acknowledging that, yes, the private server was a bad idea, harumph harumph. And some others didn't even go that far. The result was that in the public eye, both liberals and conservatives were more or less agreeing that there was a lot of smoke here. So smoke there was. And now Donald Trump is a month away from being president.
I find myself in almost total agreement with everything that is said here.
What the e-mail probe, the Wikileaks dumps, and the Comey letter did was to create the shadow of a doubt that they talk about during criminal trials.
However typically the shadow of a doubt is what keeps somebody from being convicted, in this case it kept Hillary from being completely exonerated.
No matter how many investigations failed to prove criminality, or how many accusations failed to amount to anything significant, it all still hung around her like a fog which continued to create just enough mistrust, for Putin and his puppet to do their thing.
So you may ask why is this important to get on the record now?
Simple, history is written by the winners, and those winners despise Hillary Clinton. So you can bet they are going to trash her reputation at every opportunity and impugn her character constantly until those who read about her in the years to come will wonder how such a completely flawed individual ever even came close to winning the presidency.
However in reality Hillary Clinton was a fierce warrior who fought off her attackers and dictators at every turn. A woman arguably more prepared to be President of the United States than every man who came before her. And a person who it took the combined efforts of Wikileaks, the Russian government, the Republican witch hunters, and the FBI to finally defeat.
That is what history needs to remember about the woman who should be our leader for the next four years, NOT the garbage that the Right Wing will be slinging in her direction to destroy her legacy until her name fades into the darkness.
As liberals we should have completely ignored the right wing mudslingers and defended her more effectively. The least we can do now is to defend the truth about her campaign.
We fucking owe her that.