The Obama administration told a federal court Wednesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was within her legal rights to use of her own email account, to take the messages with her when she left office and to be the one deciding which of those messages are government records that should be returned. In the most complete legal defense of Mrs. Clinton, Justice Department lawyers insisted they not only have no obligation, but no power, to go back and demand the former top diplomat turn over any documents she hasn't already given -- and neither, they said, can the court order that.
In the spring, Republicans, a variety of reporters, and much of the Beltway establishment was convinced: there was a real "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation's international donors. In time, the allegations crumbled, the controversy evaporated, and the political world lost interest in the story that didn't stand up to scrutiny. There just was no there there.
Over the summer, the same Republicans, many of the same reporters, and much of the Beltway establishment was once again convinced: there was a real "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton and her email server management. Given the latest revelations, it's starting to look like deja vu all over again.
The Associated Press, BuzzFeed, and the New York Times had similar reports on this "little noticed brief."
So, let me get this straight. Clinton used a private email server. The State Department said this was allowed. The Justice Department came to the same conclusion. The FBI isn't investigating her.
I know we're supposed to think this is a "scandal," and the coverage has successfully convinced plenty of voters that this "controversy" is evidence of some unnamed nefarious misdeeds, but the rationale for taking this story seriously is looking pretty thin.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post published a lengthy, front-page piece over the weekend that reported Clinton's personal, deleted emails may yet be recoverable by technicians. I'm not sure why these personal, deleted emails should be an area of interest in a presidential campaign; in fact I'm not sure why any candidate's personal, deleted emails should be scrutinized.
And yet, over the weekend, Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairmen of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, respectively, said "they would push for the deleted e-mails to be reviewed if they can be recovered."
Of course they would.
Why, exactly, should Hillary Clinton's personal emails receive scrutiny that no candidate, in either party, has ever had to face? I have no idea, but congressional Republicans seem serious anyway.
Mother Jones' Kevin Drum added, sarcastically, "I'm sure the nation's security hinges on this. And if Hillary's personal emails are successfully recovered, I'm equally sure that a few of the most embarrassing ones will somehow get leaked to friendly reporters."
Count on it.
In the meantime, if someone can explain why this is literally a front-page story for months, while Jeb Bush's identical email issue is considered a non-story, I'm eager to hear the explanation.