Clinton’s email mess is getting worse

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, June 2, 2016

A State Department audit has found that Hillary Clinton violated department rules in her use of a home email server and failed to properly preserve federal records as secretary of state. That is troubling in itself for someone so close to becoming her party’s nominee for president. But even more troubling is Clinton’s refusal to be interviewed about her practices by government officials.

Allegations of bias from the Clinton camp are futile and should be dropped. This was no GOP witch hunt. It was a review directed by Clinton’s own successor, John Kerry, a fellow Democrat. Three previous secretaries of state willingly submitted to interviews about their own practices: Colin Powell, Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice, as well as Kerry.

It’s bad enough that Clinton continually refuses news interviews on the topic, but to decline to talk with the inspector general charged with investigating her conduct, even as she is asking Americans to elevate her to this nation’s highest office, is unconscionable. In fact, the inspector general with whom she refused an interview was appointed by President Obama.

Clinton remains under FBI investigation, and she has said she will cooperate. But of course, there are consequences to refusing the FBI. It’s unclear why Clinton has dragged this out to the point that it is tainting her candidacy and feeding already rampant doubts about her trustworthiness. Clinton has been in government far too long not to know the need for properly preserving federal records. She also knows that she was supposed to surrender all department-related emails upon leaving office, yet it’s taken two years to obtain them. Clinton must assure voters that this is not the way she would conduct business in the White House.

Importantly, the audit also notes that the inspector general could find no evidence that Clinton received approval from the department’s legal adviser to use a private email server, even though Clinton has said she had permission. Instead, a director reportedly told State Department staff members that they were to “support the Secretary” and “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”

There is only one way for Clinton to make this go away. She must cooperate quickly and completely with government officials and answer questions fully. With less than six months until Election Day, Clinton should want to dispel the cloud that hangs over her candidacy.

— Star Tribune (Minneapolis)