‘But her emails’ sounds a little different now
Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate are incensed by the Secret Service’s missing text messages from Jan. 6 — the day of the Capitol Hill riot — as well as other missing text messages and emails from figures in the Trump administration.
The Democrats are considering increased oversight of the Secret Service and murmuring about a “cover-up.” And we agree that government officials and staff should keep records of their internal and external communications and there should be consequences when they fail to do so.
It’s important for accountability. It’s important for transparency.
But it also isn’t the first time our country has confronted the likelihood of a public servant evading these measures of accountability and transparency.
One such example was widely documented during the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, as U.S. Secretary of State, frequently used private email services to stay off the proverbial grid of federal record-keeping. Many questioned the propriety of her steps to use off-grid email — some were, we acknowledge, political pundits and opponents with partisan axes to grind. But some were simply people — figures in the media and voters as well — who wanted good governance and recognized that transparency and accountability are key provisions of ensuring good governance.
At the time, Clinton’s supporters, both in the punditry and beyond, met those questions and concerns with mockery and derision. They rewarded her with the Democratic nomination for president and with more than 65 million votes in November of 2016.
And for the next six or so years, her supporters continued to mock the idea that there should be any consequences for her evasion of email record-keeping, to the point where “but her emails” became shorthand amongst those supporters for what they perceived as baseless, knee-jerk opposition to Clinton’s candidacy.
Now, that text messages between Secret Service agents on Jan. 6 cannot be accounted for, we must ask: Why would we hold any Secret Service agent to a higher standard than a U.S. Secretary of State?
Are accountability and transparency a standard we should expect those in our federal government to abide by, or concepts worthy of mockery and derision? Can anyone expect vigorous compliance in some cases while excusing non-compliance in other cases without being a partisan hack?
We believe what we need, in addition to transparency and accountability, is consistency. We believe whichever answer applied to Secretary of State Clinton about six years ago really ought to apply to the Secret Service today.