The Clinton Email Controversy
Has our long national nightmare come to an end? I’m talking, of course, about Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, which has dominated the news for the better part of the last year and which, from a legal and prosecutorial standpoint at least, appears to have come to a close with the FBI recommending no charges and Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreeing with an official announcement that charges would not be brought.
However, while the federal legal apparatus may be done with it, given the state of the presidential race and this week’s Republican convention in Cleveland, it doesn’t seem like we’ll ever stop hearing about emails, emails, emails. Look no further than the Republican National Convention, which has thus far been chock full of speakers blasting her over the issue, making sarcastic comments about it, and leading a frenzied crowd in chants of “lock her up!”
Clinton’s camp will likely need to continually address concerns over her emails long into the general election, and, if she wins, into her Presidency, but the findings from a couple weeks ago shouldn’t change her campaign’s strategy in the slightest. The message points Clinton’s staffers, and the candidate herself, have been going on for months address both Director Comey’s and Attorney General Lynch’s decisions. She’s admitted that using a private server wasn’t the best choice and maintained that nothing she has done was explicitly illegal. She’s expressed that if she could go back, she would have operated differently. That talking point still works because there are no excuses or explanations that would satisfy her antagonists, and I would expect that she and her surrogates will continue to hammer it every time the press or her opponents force her to address the issue. In the eyes of her campaign and her supporters, she’s already done countless interviews and talk shows about it and nothing she says or does is going to quiet her critics, just like her supporters aren’t going to be swayed by their criticism.
Like many governmental crises, the controversy behind Clinton’s private server being used for confidential emails is a complicated one. It would be difficult to explain the use of a private server to the large majority of people who are unfamiliar with the very technical workings of such a setup, so it is best for Clinton to stick to a simple—if somewhat nuanced—apology.
Even though Republicans continue to make as much hay as they can about it, the Democrats are up next with their quadrennial gathering. That event, which will be covered wall to wall in the media, would seem to give her a perfect opportunity to put it to bed once and for all with those tuning in, but I suspect we’ll hear nary a peep from her or the other convention speakers about it. In their eyes, there are bigger issues to address and the email controversy has long been addressed in full and there is no upside to reawaken the sleeping beast.
LEVICK Fellow Kelsey Chapekis contributed to this post.