Clinton’s Email Mess Hands a Lifeline to the Floundering Trump Campaign

Clinton’s Email Mess Hands a Lifeline to the Floundering Trump Campaign

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Unlike her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton has run a disciplined campaign and has, for the most part, avoided unnecessarily drawing the spotlight to herself when her opponent has been struggling.

However, that discipline extends only to things under the Clinton campaign’s own control, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation plainly is not. That’s why the days-long story about Trump’s puzzling decision to follow up a decorous and conciliatory visit to Mexico last week with a fire-breathing anti-immigrant speech just hours later lost some of its steam over the weekend with the release of details from the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email system while she served as secretary of state.

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The revelations in the materials released on Friday were many and varied. They included details about the (potentially illegal) destruction of some of the 13 different mobile devices that were used to access Clinton’s private email account, which she used for official State Department business and the deletion of emails from Clinton’s private email server by her staff months after she was directed to preserve any evidence.

Clinton, it turns out, cited her failure to remember specific information dozens of times in her interview with FBI agents investigating her use of the private system. This included whether or not she had received basic instructions on the handling of classified materials.

She also professed confusion about the markings on certain documents signifying their classification status -- a puzzling defense for someone with Clinton’s record of service.

The FBI’s findings included thousands of emails identified as official correspondence by investigators that Clinton had not turned over to the State Department despite her assurances that the contents of her personal server had been meticulously combed for such material by her own legal team. In fact, the volume of emails left out of Clinton’s submission to the State Department reveals that the system used to screen out her personal emails was poorly designed at best. To the many inclined to a less charitable view of Clinton’s motives, it will suggest deliberate withholding of information.

Related: Trump Dealt Himself a Losing Hand With Fiery Immigration Speech

The FBI’s release of its records related to the Clinton email investigation offered a welcome respite to the Trump campaign, giving people like vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, the current governor of Indiana, something other than his running mate’s flip-flops on immigration policy to talk about.

“It's just more evidence that Hillary Clinton is the most dishonest candidate for president of the United States since Richard Nixon,” Pence said in an interview with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd.

“Hillary Clinton, what's evident from the notes, what's evident from all of the revelations over the last several weeks, is that Hillary Clinton-- operated in such a way to keep her e-mails, and particularly her interactions while Secretary of State with the Clinton Foundation, out of the public reach, out of public accountability.”

It remains unclear how frequently and at what point in the final two months of the presidential campaign more information from the thousands of emails recovered by the FBI will be released into the public domain. However, what seems abundantly clear is that there will be more revelations that Clinton will have to answer for -- every single one of them a life preserver tossed to a floundering Trump campaign.