Opinion: Hillary Clinton’s strategy on those missing emails: Ignore her critics

Hillary Rodham Clinton at a news conference in New York on Tuesday, during which she answered questions about her use of a private email account while she was secretary of State.
(Yana Paskova / Getty Images)

There’s no way Hillary Rodham Clinton can ever put every potential question to rest about her private stash of emails from her tenure as secretary of State. No matter how many emails she turns over to the State Department, somebody - and not only her dyed-in-the-wool critics - will still wonder about the messages she held back.

Still, Clinton left open several questions by the way she chose to handle the situation. The 19-minute news conference she gave Tuesday didn’t fix those problems. The main questions:

Why did she choose to keep all her emails on a personal server? “I saw it as a matter of convenience,” she said. “At the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.” That was perhaps her best answer because “convenience” is subjective.

Why did she destroy the 31,830 emails she chose not to give the State Department? No real answer. That missing stash of emails, innocent though they may have been, is fated to become the 18-minute gap (or, if you prefer, the Area 51) of Hillary Clinton conspiracy theorists.

Were the Clinton servers ever hacked? “There were no security breaches,” she said. It would be nice to know how she knows that.


Did her emails contain any sensitive information that might have been at risk? “I did not email any classified materials,” she said. That’s not quite the same thing.

Clinton patted herself on the back for asking the State Department to release her official emails to the public. That, to use a polite term, is nonsense. Clinton knows that once her emails disappeared into State’s custody, they became subject to State’s sclerotic practices on document review and release. As I predicted in my column on Sunday, we’re unlikely to see them for years - maybe not until the second term of President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In any case, I still don’t think this will be a serious blow to Clinton’s presidential prospects, if she chooses to run. Clinton haters will still be Clinton haters. A few Clinton fans may be troubled, but by November 2016, few voters are likely to base their general election choices on the mystery of 31,830 missing emails. The most likely outcome: The time-honored Clinton strategy of putting your head down and ignoring your critics works - yet again.

Twitter: @DoyleMcManus

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