The Unasked Simple Question About Hillary’s Emails: Why the Private Server in the First Place?

by Bob Schwartz

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to her introduction at a campaign event in Sioux City, Iowa, United States, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

We are lost in the tall weeds of questions about the emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Did a particular email contain classified information? Was it classified at the time it was sent or received? Did she know it or should she have known it?

All of which ignores an early question that is not repeated often enough: Why did she have a private email server in the first place? The early answers vaguely had something to do with convenience, or multiple devices, or a bunch of other explanations—none of which should be satisfying to fair-minded observers (not to mention partisan opponents).

It is a simple question, with a reasonably simple answer. She wanted to have maximum control of her email communications while she was Secretary of State. Which, while it completely transgresses the principle of relatively transparent and accountable government, is completely understandable. If you were in her position, the country’s top diplomat, but also a controversial politician aiming to finally become President of the United States, wouldn’t you want to reduce the risk of being misunderstood—or worse, being perfectly understood?

Of course if she did say exactly that, that it was done entirely to keep maximum control, she would be more than lambasted. She would be done, or close to it. So that isn’t how she answers. And now, the question is supposedly settled, so it isn’t asked much anymore, if at all.

But maybe it should.