The brouhaha stemming from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server for State Department business shows no signs of fading any time soon, with the latest revelation that she did not sign the State Department’s separation form known as an OF-109 when she resigned from her position. However, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki did not miss an opportunity to take a potshot at Republicans when she mentioned that Hillary Clinton’s Republican predecessors Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell didn’t sign the form either. Psaki claimed to not have any information as to whether Democratic predecessor Madeleine Albright had signed the form.
While the revelation that the Secretary Clinton’s most recent predecessors did not sign the OF-109 either neutralizes the perception that she purposely did not sign the form in an effort to hide information, Hillary’s email problems are far from over. First of all, the State Department has failed to address the question of how often the OF-109 form is used within the agency. Are all employees required to sign it? Or just employees of certain levels. When asked the question, Spokesperson Psaki delivered the typical opaque response the media has learned to expect from her. “I just don’t want to characterize how common practice it is,” she told reporters. The question of which employees are required to sign this form is particularly critical in light of the fact that other members of Clinton’s staff had access to her private email server, including Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, Deputy chief of Staff Huma Abedin, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Philippe Reines. In fact, the Republican National Committee recently requested access to Clinton’s emails through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the request seeks documents shared between Clinton and her staff with Mills, Abedin and Reines specifically named. Furthermore, if the House Select Committee on Benghazi does not get its questions answered through direct requests to Clinton, the door has now been opened for the Committee to broaden its scope inquiry towards Mills, Abedin, and Reines and other important Clinton staff members or associates.
Furthermore, Jen Psaki parsed her words very carefully when making her public remarks about the OF-109. She said that the State Department “did not have a record” of Clinton having signed the OF-109. These words could be interpreted at least three different ways. On the most basic level, it could mean that Clinton did not sign the form. Or a second interpretation is that the State Department does not know if Clinton signed the form. All they know is that they don’t have a formed signed by Clinton in the file. Finally, the third and most controversial interpretation is that Clinton did sign the form, but the signed form has since been removed from the file. Hence there is no “record” of Clinton having signed the OF-109.
So as much as Hillary and the State Department would love for the conversation about Hillary’s emails to just go away, that does not appear to be happening any time soon. If anything, the investigation is now casting a wider net and going beyond Hillary to her key staff members. The longer the national conversation about Hillary’s emails continues, the more it hurts her 2016 presidential campaign prospects. The Democratic political machine wants to run a winner. Right now the odds are still on Hillary despite this controversy. But as the investigation continues and broadens its scope and source of inquiry, the more Hillary’s stock falls. If the public either views Hillary as being deliberately deceitful, incompetent, arrogant, or a combination of all three, her poll scores will drop like a lead balloon. And when that happens the Democratic machine will run from her and replace her with a candidate with less baggage. Who can blame them? After all, they want to keep a Democrat in the White House.
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