Hillary Clinton’s private email server may have been a genuine national security concern, or just a big nothingburger. However you slice it, the scandal gave the former Secretary of State no end of grief. Although primary campaign rival Bernie Sanders gave her a pass, Donald Trump and the Republicans beat Hillary Clinton over the head with the email issue every chance they got. Even after Trump won the election, he continued with the “lock her up” rhetoric, suggesting that the former First Lady deserved time in a jail cell. Currently on her book tour, Hillary Clinton has criticized the intense media focus on her emails as sexists and hostile.
Now, at long last, Clinton has some evidence that she is far from alone when it comes to ignoring proper email protocol. Ironically, it turns out the upper echelons of the Trump administration have been using private email to conduct official business. Days after the President led rally chants of “lock her up,” he has to confront that fact that his own daughter was among top aides and advisors whose activities resemble Clinton’s.
While none of Trump’s staffers have used private email exclusively, as Clinton did, the hypocrisy is hardly excusable. The situation is made worse by the fact that Team Trump actively portrayed Hillary Clinton’s email use as a genuine national security concern. If you believe the GOP, Clinton’s private email server was an open door ready to be walked through by Russian, Chinese, and North Korean digital spies and saboteurs. We were one step away from having our most sensitive secrets snatched through the in-home server of a former U.S. Senator (D-NY), jeopardizing the lives of American personnel abroad.
It will take some impressive acrobatics to go from condemning Hillary Clinton’s private email use to ignoring similar criticism of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon.
Perhaps having grown exasperated with President Trump’s continued political bumbling, even Republicans are unwilling to turn a blind eye. U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) wants the White House to disclose the names of Trump staffers who used private email for government business by October 9. Reports that private email accounts are indeed being used by Trump staffers flies in the face of a March inquiry, when administration official Marc Short told then-U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that no “senior officials” had “multiple accounts.” There may not be any sort of a smoking gun, but the Trump administration is far too battered and bruised to tolerate any more scandal.
More worryingly for Trump, the new email scandal reveals that he has done nothing to “drain the swamp.” There’s a new swamp in D.C., and it’s the same as the old swamp. The halls of power are still filled with Ivy League elites, like Kushner and Ivanka, who think they are above the law (or, at least, communication protocol). Democrats are certainly sharpening their blades for 2020, ready to paint Trump’s entire first term as a long and miserable tide of hypocrisy, but perhaps even more worrisome is Steve Bannon himself.
As President, Trump needs to court the favor of the very Republican elites whom Bannon despises. To get legislation passed, lobbing verbal bombs at members of your own party is a terrible blunder for a commander-in-chief, so expect Trump’s criticism of Republican Senators to wane over time. Having already lost his fourth bid at repealing Obamacare, Trump is growing desperate to pass anything. Expect the former real estate tycoon to try to catch more flies with honey this fall when it comes to tax reform.
But will Bannon and co. let the President simply walk away from his combative roots? Don’t bet on it. Eventually, some of those who chanted “drain the swamp!” will be targeting their taunts at the very man who promised to do so in the first place. Steve Bannon, exhibiting the height of hypocrisy, will undoubtedly dredge up the private email use of Trump’s top aides when he strikes. “I trusted Trump, but he turned out to be no better than Hillary Clinton herself,” Bannon will thunder through Breitbart. He will shift his allegiance to a new politician.
By failing to “drain the swamp,” exemplified by his own staffers doing that which they condemned Hillary Clinton for, Donald Trump has assured that his alliance with Bannon and co. is temporary at best.