Professor Charles Tiefer, in a column published Wednesday in Forbes.com, says that the State Department Inspector General’s report on Hillary Clinton’s emails while she was secretary of state more helps than hurts her.
Writes Tiefer: “It does not add any new serious charges or adverse facts. And, it shows she was less out of line with her predecessors, notably Colin Powell, than has been charged. Powell’s handling of his email was so similar, in fact, that when House Republicans drag this issue through hearings up to Election Day, Powell should be called as a witness – a witness for Clinton.”
Powell, who served as secretary of state from 2001-05, did all his email business on a private account, the IG’s report reveals.
Clinton was secretary of state from 2009-13.
“It is not clear why a great deal of what is said against Clinton’s emails could not be said against Powell’s,” Tiefer says. “Moreover, Powell’s similar practices can hardly be blamed on his being a novice about security. He not only had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had been National Security Adviser. He had jurisdiction over all the intelligence agencies. Since Powell, with unimpeachable security credentials, felt fine using private email for official business, why are we climbing all over Clinton? It is, to be blunt, a double standard.”
Moreover, Tiefer writes, the focus of the State Department inquiry is a “sideshow” because it is specifically not about classified email but about regular, unclassified email. It is the FBI’s investigation that is focusing on classified emails — and the FBI expressly told the State Department IG to stay away from classified records, Tiefer says.
“In other words, the report does not, and cannot, talk about the most serious issues,” Tiefer writes. “It is about a sideshow. If you are serious about the email charges against Hillary, you should keep your powder dry until at least Clinton is interviewed by the FBI in a matter of weeks, and then until the result of that probe is released.”
Before joining the University of Baltimore School of Law faculty in 1995, Tiefer served as solicitor and deputy general counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives for 11 years.