Clinton email report changes few minds

Email Headaches For Clinton
Email Headaches For Clinton

The latest development in of the ongoing examination of Hillary Clinton's email came Wednesday, when the State Department Inspector General released its report finding the former secretary of state ran afoul of federal policy in her use of a private email server.

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And while it reflected poorly on Clinton's decision-making while serving as the nation's top diplomat, the report – which also criticized other former secretaries of state – seemed unlikely to dramatically change the conversation around her campaign or her abilities if she becomes president.

Questions swirling around Clinton's choice to eschew a State Department email address in favor of a personal account and whether she mishandled sensitive information have hung over her campaign since the server became public knowledge last March.

See Clinton's testify on Benghazi:

The IG report, released to members of Congress Wednesday, identified unsatisfactory practices at the State Department going back several administrations, blaming officials for being "slow to recognize and manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks" that emerged when email and cell phones became dominant forms of communication. But it singled out Clinton in particular for her failure to adequately preserve her communications, as is required by federal law, and for refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Republicans pounced, citing the report as proof that Clinton dangerously erred and put American's safety at risk.

The "findings are the latest chapter in the long saga of Hillary Clinton's bad judgment that broke federal rules and endangered our national security," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "The stakes are too high to entrust the White House to someone with as much poor judgment and reckless disregard for the law as Hillary Clinton."

See Clinton on the campaign trail:

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, whose probe first discovered Clinton's server, said the report vindicated his committee's work.

"There is only one reason why these facts are now available to the American people," he said, "thorough congressional oversight, including the Select Committee on Benghazi's insistence that any truly comprehensive review of what happened before, during, and after the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya must include public records from the former Secretary of State and her senior staff."

Gowdy's committee, which has been working for more than two years, has been accused waging a partisan witch hunt against the likely Democratic nominee.

"While the emails have never been the focus of our investigation, it was necessary to obtain them, and this committee is the first and only one to do so," he said. "If anyone wonders why the investigation is not yet complete, the malfeasance and numerous problems identified in this report are Exhibit A, and prove the committee has faced serial delays from day one at the hands of public officials who sought to avoid transparency and accountability."

But Clinton's presidential campaign downplayed the report, claiming it vindicated Clinton's assertion she had acted in line with the examples set by her predecessors.

"While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email," said Brian Fallon, Clinton's national press secretary. "Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary's server."

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has not shied away from criticizing Clinton, whom he calls "crooked."

"She had a little bad news today," Trump said at a rally in California Wednesday afternoon, predicting a Clinton administration would be "nothing but turmoil." "Not good ... she's got horribly bad judgement."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, has consistently refused to attack her on the email issue.

"I think the report speaks for itself. This is obviously an area where the senator has chosen not to go," Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said on CNN Wednesday. "He's tried to keep this campaign on the issues."

The other major investigation into Clinton's emails, the FBI probe focused on the handling of classified material, is reportedly in its final stages.

Legal expertsagree a criminal indictment is unlikely – although not impossible – in the case.