In the aftermath of the revelations that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a personal email account to conduct state correspondence with diplomatic leaders around the globe and pretty much everyone else, it was only a matter of time before the subpoenas started flying. That time is now and as WaPo reports, the "House investigative committee is preparing to send out subpoenas later Wednesday to gather a deeper look into former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nearly exclusive use of personal e-mails to do her official business as the government’s top diplomat, according to people familiar with the probe."
As a reminder, here is a sampling of some of the emails Clinton had sent to at least one recipient, Sidney Blumenthal, whose email account had been hacked by the infamous Romanian hacker "Guccifer".
The Committee is asking for all e-mails related to the attack from all Clintonemail.com accounts and any other staff members’ personal accounts.
The subpoenas are expected to go out to the State Department later Wednesday. The move escalates the panel’s conflict with Clinton and could complicate her expected run for president.
As the WaPo adds, the White House on Tuesday said Clinton appeared to have operated in violation of “very specific guidance” from the West Wing that members of the Obama administration use government e-mail accounts to carry out official business.
What makes this case different than the IRS email subpoena is that unlike in the instance of Lois Lerner where massive hardware failure was blamed for the failure to produce the discovery request, according to AP the computer server she used traces back to her family's New York home.
The unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official running her own email server would have given Clinton — who is expected to run for president in the 2016 campaign — significant control over limiting access to her message archives.
According to AP, this would also complicate the State Department's legal responsibilities in finding and turning over official emails in response to any investigations, lawsuits or public records requests. The department would be the position of accepting Clinton's assurances she was surrendering everything required that was in her control.
The White House said it was Clinton's responsibility to make sure any emails about official business weren't deleted from her private server. "There's a responsibility that's associated with that, which is it's important to ensure that when official business is conducted on personal email, that those records are properly maintained and preserved," spokesman Josh Earnest said. He added there was no security review planned for Clinton's email server.
And of course, the White House will gladly give the next democratic presidential hopeful, the benefit of the doubt that she never abused the email retention protocol, even if it means that nobody can actually check.
Except for the NSA of course, which thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know has a copy of virtually every single email to traverse the US internet in the last few years.
Where this story gets even more bizarre is that it was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton's computer server was run. A business record for the Internet connection it used was registered under the home address for her residence in Chappaqua, New York, as early as August 2010. The customer was listed as Eric Hoteham.
An aide to then-first lady Clinton was identified in a 2002 congressional report as Eric Hothem, whose name is spelled differently than in the Internet records. Hothem was not available to take a phone call when reached at his office Wednesday.
A parody Twitter account for Hoteham appeared Wednesday after the AP cited the records, sending satirical tweets supporting Clinton's campaign. Hoteham's name had not appeared with that spelling in public-record databases, campaign contribution records or online background searches.
Some of the parody tweets are shown below:
Vast right wing conspiracy on full display today. #ReadyForHillary— Eric Hoteham (@erichoteham) March 4, 2015
But why would Hillary Clinton have her own server?
In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account — email@example.com, which appears to include a nod to her middle name, Diane. A spokesman for her did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday or Wednesday. Clinton did not mention the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY's List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
The AP adds that operating her own server "would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton's home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking."
This story makes even less sense when one considers that Hillary's email options included using an official State Department account or even a secret agency email address, which the AP revealed in 2013 as a common practice across the U.S. government and by previous administrations. Many senior U.S. officials use alternate addresses that aren't disclosed to the public for official business so they are not inundated with unwanted messages.
The humorous punchline is that "the State Department's email system might not have been attractive to Clinton because it is frequently targeted by hackers."
In other words, we will soon hear the excuse that the Clintons used personal email servers because they were safer than government ones.
That excuse may not fly: Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the special House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, said the panel learned last summer — when department documents were turned over — that Clinton had used a private email account while secretary of state. More recently the committee learned that she used private email accounts exclusively and had more than one, Gowdy said.
"It doesn't matter if the server was in Foggy Bottom, Chappaqua, or Bora Bora," House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday. "The Benghazi Select Committee needs to see all of these emails, because the American people deserve all of the facts."
Actually, what the American people deserve more than anything is a daily farcical tragicomedy, and with the latest Clinton revelations and the ensuing imminent kangaroo court in which the former SecState will pull the Sgt. Schultz defense, they will get just that.
Plus, in a world in which Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve call all the shots anyway, and only the NSA really knows what actually happened - an agency that is just as unsupervised as Clinton's now defunct email account, what difference does it make which email account Mrs. Clinton was using?