As the old joke goes, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a plan to deal with the controversy surrounding her exclusive use of private email to conduct official government business, but that plan appears to have changed.
The original Hillary plan was straight out of the Clinton playbook — wait, remain silent and hope something else comes along to distract the media and the public, then dismissively claim it’s an old story. The “there’s nothing new here” mantra worked in the 1990s, aided by Republican hysteria. But in 2015, after the birth of new media and scores of new news sites and organizations, it just isn’t working.
In an apparent acknowledgement of that shifting media dynamic, Politico is reporting that three sources within the Clinton inner circle are saying to expect Hillary to not only speak on the topic, but to hold a press conference to address the growing controversy.
President Barack Obama originally claimed to CBS News that he found out about his former secretary of state using private email and a private server in her home on which to store them, in apparent violation of changes to the Federal Records Act made in 2009, through news reports. The next day, however, the White House had to issue a correction, admitting the president knew from the start of his term because he had exchanged emails with his secretary of state, but that he didn’t know about the private server and lack of compliance with the FRA.
The Federal Records Act requires all official government communications, including emails, be archived by the relevant agencies for posterity, congressional oversight and Freedom of Information compliance.
Clinton, it appears, violated this law.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is likely to hold a press conference in New York in the next several days to answer reporters questions about a controversy surrounding her use of a private email account at the State Department, according to three people close to the potential Democratic frontrunner.
Since the controversy broke more than a week ago, Clinton has given several public addresses, but has not spoken about the controversy. She was confronted at Reagan National Airport by the celebrity gossip site TMZ, but did not answer a question about it. Several surrogates and Clinton loyalists have made media appearances trying to quell the gathering storm to no avail.
Her only public comment thus far was a tweet in which she claimed she wanted her emails to be made public. This was roundly criticized for, among other things, the fact that thanks to the nature of the email system and private server she set up in her New York mansion, the only people with access to her email to make them public are her and her staff.
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015
Clinton allies had been touting the fact that the former First Lady has turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department. But critics point out that number is meaningless since it refers to “pages” and not emails. One email can be anywhere from one word to unlimited pages when printed.
Critics, including many Democrats, are calling for total and complete disclosure of all emails the secretary sent or received during her tenure at State. Differentiating between work and personal communications would be nearly impossible since she seems to have used the same account for all her communications. As it stands, it would be up to Clinton to separate what she considers relevant emails from those of a personal nature, and many political observers simply do not trust her to do so accurately.
Clinton is under added scrutiny because her family’s charity, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, was discovered to have accepted donations from foreign governments while she the chief diplomat of the United States.