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Hillary Clinton needs to start taking her email scandal seriously

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a town hall meeting Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher) Photo Credit: AP / John Locher

This piece was written in August 2015 when concerns about Hillary Clinton's personal email servers first emerged.

For months Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has responded to her email scandal by treating it as both a joke and as an overblown partisan political attack.

In fact, it is neither, and her continued minimizing of the situation is looking worse and worse the longer it goes on.

Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan blew a hole in Clinton's narrative on Thursday when he said she did not conform to State Department rules in her use of a personal email account as Secretary of State.  The statement came at a hearing over a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department Involving Huma Abedin, a Clinton adviser who was allowed to work simultaneously for both the government and as a consultant to private firms.

The larger issue is Clinton's use of a personal email account and server to conduct government business, some of which may have been classified. Which is to say that Clinton says none of them was ever classified ...  and government officials involved in the investigation who've been looking at the emails say some of them were.

Clinton has claimed her conduct complied with State Department rules and policies, but that isn't the case. To protect classified information and make sure historic archives are complete, such emails were required to be dealt with on government devices and preserved in the agency's record-keeping system.

And she also erased 30,000 "personal" emails before turning another 30,000 to the government that she says are work-related. How will we ever know what was in those personal emails? It remains to be seen what can or will be retrieved, but in the meantime we're being asked to simply trust that they were personal.

At a recent political event in Iowa I attended, Clinton tried to laugh the controversy off with the line "You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account...I love it...I love it...those messages disappear all by themselves."

It played okay in the room, when the audience was mostly middle-aged Iowan political volunteers who've long worked to elect Clintons, tend to side with the couple and believe in vast right-wing conspiracies to discredit them.

A few moments later, speaking of the political heat she's taking, Clinton added, "It's not about Benghazi. You know what? It's not about emails or servers either. It's about politics."

When it comes to the endless and fruitless Benghazi investigations, she's right. It is about politics. She didn't want anyone to die, or negligently cause anyone to die. But when it comes to the email and server scandal, it's not politics. It's her likely inappropriate behavior.

Judge Sullivan put it best when he said, "We wouldn't be here today if this employee had followed government policy."

Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.


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