Colin Powell, George W. Bush's first secretary of state, wrote in his memoir about how outdated technology infrastructure at the State Department led him to install a personal laptop in his office to use a personal email account to "shoo[t] emails to my principal assistants, to individual ambassadors, and increasingly to my foreign-minister colleagues." Powell, who served from 2001-2005, apparently did not keep a record of personal emails, unlike Clinton.
The story surrounding Hillary Clinton's emails can get a little confusing, and some of the mistaken reporting from major news outlets hasn't helped. But officials are still in the process of examining how the State Department handled sensitive information.
With that in mind, the Washington Post reports that Clinton will "provide the FBI with the private server" she used for email during her tenure as secretary of state, as well as the thumb drive with emails Clinton already provided to the State Department.
There's still nothing to suggest the Democratic presidential hopeful actually did anything wrong, but the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is suspicious. "Democrats, ask yourself this," Cillizza said this morning on Twitter. "If this was a former [Republican Secretary of State] and his/her private e-mail server, would it be a 'non-story'?"
As a rule, I think that's a smart way for political observers to look at every story. If the situations were reversed, how would you react to a controversy?
The problem in this case is that Cillizza isn't necessarily pointing to a hypothetical. Politico published this report in March: "Like Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a personal email account during his tenure at the State Department, an aide confirmed in a statement.'
MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald added at the time:
As best as I can tell, no one ever cared about the Republican secretary of state using a personal email account. It was, to borrow a phrase, a non-story.
Clearly, Republicans and some of Clinton's media critics see an opportunity here. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), still hoping for some modicum of attention, has even begun telling people that Clinton might go to jail. I haven't seen anything to suggest Clinton is guilty of any wrongdoing at all, but the probe is apparently still ongoing and we'll see if anything of interest turns up.
But to suggest Democrats would pounce if the shoe were on the other foot doesn't appear to be true. We already know how Dems would respond to a Republican secretary of state using a private email account: with indifference.