Email #295: “this careless, this reckless”?

Of all the factors that contributed to Donald Trump winning the Presidency, Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server is perhaps the largest. On October 28, the day FBI Director Comey announced he was reopening his investigation due to the discovery of a previously unknown trove of emails on a computer in a Clinton aide’s home, Clinton was leading in polls by 6%. A week later she was leading by only 3%. During that week, the Comey letter was the lead story on almost every mainstream news source.

You said on the day of Comey’s announcement: “the more we learn about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the clearer it becomes that she and her associates committed wrongdoing and jeopardized national security. Now that the FBI has reopened the matter, it must conduct the investigation with impartiality and thoroughness.” Although your contradiction is disturbing (you call for “impartiality” while declaring certainty that we will learn more about her wrongdoing), it demonstrates just how deeply concerned you were about a senior member of the executive branch using a private email server.

But now we learn that senior members of the current executive branch have been using private email servers too. They include: Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server came to light only because of a special investigation into the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi. Similarly, the use of private email servers by members of the Trump administration is only coming to light because of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian election collusion.

When Director Comey made his October 28th announcement, he had no knowledge of the content of the newly discovered emails. Despite your insistence that the FBI would learn of more “wrongdoing,” they did not. The FBI did, however, conduct their investigation with “thoroughness.” Your constituents in Virginia and Americans across the nation expect the same thoroughness from the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Regardless of the Special Counsel’s investigation, how are you conducting oversight of the executive branch regarding the use of private email servers? According to James Norton, senior Homeland Security official in the Bush administration: “These private email accounts become targets of phishing attacks or other types of ways of collecting information. It’s an issue not only for the person who owns that account, but the person who is receiving the emails. It is introducing risk into the system.”

You expressed a similar opinion regarding Secretary Clinton in July 2016: “if she’s going to be president of the United States and is this careless, this reckless with America’s national secrets, that’s an issue in a campaign, but it’s also an issue for anybody who wants to serve in the White House.”

And we now know there are six officials who have been serving in the White House since January who have demonstrated the same use of private email servers. Since you said, “This is something that will dog her throughout this process, and it should,” are you now going to “dog” the Trump administration with the same vigilant concerns? Or were your dogged attacks on Secretary Clinton political rather than principled?

Perhaps the Trump administration’s use of private email servers does not rise to the same level of carelessness as Secretary Clinton’s. The only way to know is to investigate.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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