Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Auditors: How was Hillary's email use wrong? Let us count the ways

Well, well, well ... from the Associated Press :

"Hillary Clinton and her team ignored clear guidance from the State Department that her email setup broke federal standards and could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers, an independent audit has found. Her aides twice brushed aside concerns, in one case telling technical staff 'the matter was not to be discussed further.'

"The inspector general's review also revealed that hacking attempts forced then-Secretary of State Clinton off email at one point in 2011, though she insists the personal server she used was never breached. Clinton and several of her senior staff declined to be interviewed for the State Department investigation.

"Earlier this month, Clinton declared that she was happy to 'talk to anybody, anytime' about the matter and would encourage her staff to do the same. ...

"The 78-page analysis, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, says Clinton ignored clear directives. She never sought approval to conduct government business over private email, and never demonstrated the server or the Blackberry she used while in office 'met minimum information security requirements.'

"Twice in 2010, information management staff at the State Department raised concerns that Clinton's email practices failed to meet federal records-keeping requirements. The staff's director responded that Clinton's personal email system had been reviewed and approved by legal staff, 'and that the matter was not to be discussed any further.'

"The audit found no evidence of a legal staff review or approval. It said any such request would have been denied by senior information officers because of security risks."

This should surprise approximately no one who hasn't spent the past 14 months, since the story about Clinton's private email server first broke , pretending this was a non-issue, just another instance of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" ganging up on poor, little Ms. Hillary.

Naturally, the Clinton campaign is trying to spin the report as confirming that previous secretaries of state also used private email accounts. This is quintessentially Clintonian misdirection; the AP story explains why :

"The audit did note that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had also exclusively used a private email account, though it did not name any other prior secretaries who had done so. But the failings of Clinton were singled out in the audit as being more serious than her predecessor.

"'By Secretary Clinton's tenure, the department's guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated,' the report concluded. 'Secretary Clinton's cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.'"

That, and the fact none of her predecessors took it upon themselves to set up a unsecured, homebrew server in their own basement while in office.

I still doubt the Obama Justice Department will prosecute Clinton over the separate but related matter of her having classified information on that server of hers. But I do wonder if that will be in spite of an FBI recommendation to prosecute, which would surely be a death blow to her campaign. That would play right into the hands of Donald Trump -- and, if Democrats haven't formally nominated her, Bernie Sanders -- that "the system" is rigged, and powerful people with connections such as the Clintons are the beneficiaries. In the contest of which candidate is least bad , a recommended prosecution for a potential commander-in-chief who in her previous job put national security at risk would be pretty hard to top.

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.