IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why Mark Meadows' use of personal email accounts matters

If Hillary Clinton's email protocols were a major national story for over a year, Mark Meadows' use of private email accounts matters, too.

The New York Times reported overnight on the latest revelations surrounding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, and the likelihood that the North Carolina Republican will be held in contempt of Congress after ignoring a subpoena. Way, way down in the article, in the 28th paragraph of a 37-paragraph report, readers are alerted to a related piece of news:

The panel said it also had questions about Mr. Meadows's use of a personal cellphone, a Signal account and two personal Gmail accounts for government business, and whether he had properly turned over records from those accounts to the National Archives.

Look, I realize that "but her emails" jokes in reference to Hillary Clinton are probably a little too easy. But that doesn't mean they're wrong.

In case anyone has successfully blocked 2016 from their minds, the American electorate was told for many months that the former secretary of State's email protocols were one of the defining political issues of our time. As Election Day 2016 approached, and the United States faced the prospect of having a ridiculous television personality elected to the nation's highest office, "email" was the one thing voters heard most about the more capable and more qualified candidate.

The fact that Clinton did not rely entirely on her address, the electorate was told, was evidence of her recklessness. She put the United States at risk, the argument went. For some, it might even have been literally criminal.

During the presidential campaign, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan went so far as to formally request that Clinton be denied intelligence briefings — insisting that her email practices were proof that she couldn't be trusted.

After her defeat, Donald Trump and his team took office, at which point top members of the president's inner circle began utilizing private email accounts.

This didn't become a major national scandal because, well, I've never been altogether clear why not. Perhaps this would've been a bigger story if the Republican White House weren't routinely rocked by controversies of greater historical significance. Perhaps the political media concluded — a bit too late — that email protocols weren't quite as important as they seemed in 2016.

But Meadows offers an even more striking example, not only because he was part of a Republican White House filled with Clinton critics who were doing what she did, but also because he was a GOP member of Congress — who helped investigate Clinton's email practices in 2016.

In fact, it was the Republican-led House Oversight Committee that held hearings on Clinton's email protocols ahead of Election Day 2016, and it was Meadows who served on the committee at the time.

Four years later, he became the White House chief of staff — a position in which Meadows had access to highly classified information, and a job in which he was required to use government-issued accounts and electronic devices.

It nevertheless appears that the Republican used "a personal cellphone, a Signal account and two personal Gmail accounts for government business."

It's something to keep in mind the next time a rabid GOP crowd starts chanting, "Lock her up."