A federal judge has found that Hillary Clinton did not comply with federal policies by using a private server located in her home during her tenure as secretary of state. Clinton used the server for her official email account and exposed classified information by doing so.
United States District Judge Emmet Sullivan also admonished the State Department for not communicating with the FBI regarding the issue and urged the two to cooperate to expand the investigation.
Sullivan made the finding during a hearing in the case between the conservative organization Judicial Watch and the State Department. The group is suing the State Department over its failure to provide records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) regarding the employment of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Judge Sullivan ordered the State Department to communicate with the FBI to determine if any records related the lawsuit might exist on the server and thumb drive turned over recently by Clinton. The server and thumb drive are now in the hands of federal authorities as part its investigation as to whether Clinton’s email system was secure.
The judge also inquired as to whether the company that maintained Clinton’s server had copies of emails sent and received. He urged the State Department to directly ask Clinton if any third parties might have the sought-after emails, although he did not go so far as to order the agency to do so.
The judge’s findings bring fresh headaches to Clinton’s campaign as she continues to take steps to defend herself regarding her use of the private server. In addition to the many FOIA lawsuits seeking information, Congress feels Clinton’s campaign has not adequately explained the situation. Congress also disapproves of Clinton utilizing humor to attempt to deflect and minimize the situation. Florida Senator Bill Nelson stated that, “[He doesn’t] think the campaign has handled it very well. [He thinks] the advice to her of making a joke out of it – [he] think[s] that was not good advice.”
Democrat Representative John Yarmuth feels that the controversy could knock Clinton out of the presidential race. He quipped, “I just never feel like I have a grasp of what the facts are. Clearly she has handled it poorly from the first day. And there’s the appearance of dishonesty, if it’s not dishonesty.”
Although Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner and has much more money and support than other Democratic hopefuls, particularly Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, the margin is narrowing. New polls indicate that in battleground states, only ⅓ of people feel Clinton is honest and trustworthy.
Whatever people’s perception is of Clinton, the current email controversy is taking away from the issues she wants people to focus on. For the campaign, it’s simply a huge distraction.
In an effort to stop the bleeding, the campaign is trying to reach out to the public.
Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri stated that, “We understand there is confusion about the issue and are being more aggressive in making sure people understand two key facts. First, that using personal email was allowed in keeping with what her predecessors had done. Two, she always treated classified materials with great care, dealt with them in hard copy, not online, and never sent or received material considered classified at the time.”
Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama White House adviser, feels that once it comes down to Clinton and a single Republican candidate, Clinton will prevail. “The question shouldn’t be, do you trust Hillary Clinton. It needs to be, do you trust Hillary Clinton more than Marco Rubio or Donald Trump on the economy [and] immigration.”