17 Jun 2016

Krugman Misleading on Hillary Clinton Email Scandal

Contra Krugman 7 Comments

This is an “explainer” post for our loyal Contra Krugman fans. On Episode 40 (which we just recorded but it hasn’t been posted yet), I referred to this Krugman blog post. My point is that Krugman made it sound like he had independent evidence that the outrage over Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal was a faux Republican invention, when in fact (I claimed) the actual news story showed just the opposite.

So here is how Krugman handled it in his post:

The Clinton email “scandal” goes on — still no sign that she broke any rules, no sign that she sent or received anything labeled “classified”, but she may have received and even forwarded items that were later classified or “should” have been classified. By normal human standards this is a big nothing; but Clinton Rules apply, under which malign behavior is the default assumption and where there’s smoke there must be fire even if everyone knows that the usual suspects are operating big smoke machines.

OK, so clearly you get the impression that the “latest news” shows that we are still waiting for a single shred of evidence that Clinton did something wrong, right? Now if you follow the link on the phrase “goes on,” it takes you to this Talking Points Memo piece.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Even if you just read the TPM piece, you already would see that Krugman is wrong. The TPM piece is saying that a Reuters analysis has found that even though Team Clinton is claiming she never sent anything that was marked classified, that at least some of the emails in question should have AUTOMATICALLY been classified because of their nature (and that this is a big deal–a breaking of the rules pertaining to someone in her position).

And if you’re really into being objective–so that you go and click the Reuters link, rather than trusting the summaries by TPM and Paul Krugman–you would see stuff like this:

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”

So in Krugman’s world, a Reuters report quoting a former director of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office, who worked for the Bill Clinton administration, saying that the State Department is obfuscating and that Hillary Clinton clearly broke rules that were in force at that time…is to be summarized as: “still no sign that she broke any rules.”

By the same logic, there is “still no sign” that Donald Trump did anything wrong with respect to Trump U, because after all Donald Trump himself, and the people around him, keep insisting that they did nothing wrong.

7 Responses to “Krugman Misleading on Hillary Clinton Email Scandal”

  1. Jeffrey Singer says:


    Excellent post. But it is even worse than these stories let on — at least one email has been found that is indeed MARKED classified in the first place:


    Schindler is a great analyst who has been on this story from the start — he’s my go to source.

  2. Tel says:

    When Krugman says, “still no sign that she broke any rules” he has no idea what he is talking about. It’s clearly against the rules to handle ANY work related email on a private server. That means anything whatsoever to do with her Secretary of State position, regardless of whether classified or not. Clinton violated the Federal Records Act.

    If a private company secretary had violated Sarbanes Oxley in the same manner they would be facing charges for wilful destruction of documents.

    Clinton claims she fixed this up by providing copies of whatever emails she & Huma decided were relevant but we are stuck with just taking her word for it (trust me, I’m a Clinton), and anyway she still broke the rules, even if she did make a half hearted attempt to patch things up later.

  3. Khodge says:

    Back off, Murphy. We all know that foreign governments were intensely interested in Chelsea’s wedding and, of course, some of them would have communicated in confidence about the choice of wedding flowers.

  4. Major.Freedom says:

    Krugman ======== Shill

  5. Dyspeptic says:

    The recent Inspector General’s report stated that she violated State Department policy which was instituted to comply with the Federal Records Act. That would mean that her private server was a violation of Federal law. As I understand it the relevant legal standard is NOT that a document must be marked classified but rather that it contains sensitive information which, if mishandled would harm national security. Also, you don’t have to be terribly cynical to assume that she did this to avoid FOIA transparency requirements and the watchful eye of her departments Inspector General, whom she and her deputies refused to be interviewed by even though he was appointed by Obama.

    Hillary has offered up a long string of implausible explanations for her server, all of which have been debunked as the facts come out. She is a pathological liar and Krugman is a pathological Clinton sycophant and a pathetic, shameless partisan hack.

  6. Lee says:

    The server / classified emails discussion seems to be a distraction from the contents of the Sidney Blumenthal emails, the arms and training the rebels received in Benghazi/Libya, the Clinton Foundation receiving money from countries directly supporting those same rebels, the NY Times article stating Blumenthal had business plans with the “Libyan transitional government” … John Foster Dulles would be proud of her accomplishments as Secretary of State.

    Also from a few articles I’ve read, it sounds like she was taking her “non-approved” Blackberry into a classified area. All non-approved cellphones (and really any electronic device capable of recording/storing information) are banned from classified areas. Cellphones have great spy capabilities – a camera AND microphone, large internal storage, and several exfiltration vectors (Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM/LTE). Repeated intentional decisions to bring that device into a classified area should be another charge against her; Judge Napolitano has already discussed that no intent has to be proven only gross negligence.

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