A View From the Clinton Scandal Nonsense Mill

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a roundtable discussion on home care, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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There’s no question that the Clinton email ‘scandal’ has become a major issue for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Not that it should necessarily but it has. It’s the focus of negative press stories that appear clearly to have at least helped pull down her favorability numbers nationwide. And yet at least the ‘classification’ aspect of it all turns on an administrative tug of war which occurred long after the emails were sent: should some information that was not considered classified at the time now be re-designated as classified? And if that happens, should Hillary be in trouble for discussing classified information on her personal email server by some sort of time warp logic because some government officials now think these documents should be classified differently.

If you’ve been paying attention to this pseudo-scandal you’re probably aware of all this. But now Reuters comes into the mix with an “exclusive” which dresses up the same basic issue in new clothes.

From the Reuters ‘exclusive’

The new stamps indicate that some of Clinton’s emails from her time as the nation’s most senior diplomat are filled with a type of information the U.S. government and the department’s own regulations automatically deems classified from the get-go — regardless of whether it is already marked that way or not.

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

This is followed by the obligatory …

Reuters’ findings may add to questions that Clinton has been facing over her adherence to rules concerning sensitive government information.

In other words, this is a news article. So we’re not saying this is a big deal. But others may decide this is a big deal. So we wanted to let you know that.

The logic goes something like this. The State Department that then-Secretary Clinton didn’t violate any rules because whatever administrative discussion there may be today about whether various documents should have been classified they were not classified at the time. But we’ve now found that these then-unclassified documents really, really clearly should have been classified and Clinton definitely should have known they were presumptively classified.

This is silly. It’s the same set of facts dressed up to be a new development and even an ‘exclusive’.

As I wrote earlier this year, this kind of thing is why I await the Clinton campaign and possible Clinton presidency with all the eagerness that one anticipates a long edit from an over-scrupulous and ill-tempered editor. The end result will likely be a good one. But getting there will be endless drama punctuated by bouts of felony-inducing frustration. The Clintons may not go looking for trouble but they always find it. They have a tortured but ultimately symbiotic, codependent and deeply toxic relationship with their pursuers, which is simply, after a couple decades, exhausting. You just don’t get this with Obama. And yet, as I wrote a couple months later (“Clinton Foundation-palooza Hurtles Toward Its Vince Foster Moment”) they always draw me back in: because whatever merits there are in the scandals, criticisms and all the rest it quickly degenerates into either comical conspiracy theories or the kind of oppo-research driven press frivolity and illogic we see here.

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