Trumputin 2.

Did Donald Trump encourage the Russkies to hack the email of Hillary Clinton?  Well, no.  It doesn’t matter what the New York Times[1] or the Public Broadcasting Service says.  The truth is different.

Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server handled both her correspondence as Secretary of State and her “personal” e-mails.  In theory, these personal e-mails related to things like the place settings at the wedding of her daughter Chelsea Clinton.  However, some people (other than Ann Coulter) believe that some of the e-mails reveal the involvement of the Secretary of State with donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton shut down her private e-mail server after she ended her term as Secretary of State in 2012.  All of the “personal” e-mails were deleted, although the State Department-related e-mails were subsequently turned over to the State Department.  The server cannot now be hacked because it hasn’t been operating for four years.  Thus, the EffaBeeEye could not recover the deleted e-mails.

Was it hacked in the past?  F.B.I. Director James Comey sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s “reckless” behavior in handling e-mail while serving as Secretary of State.  Experts consulted by the New York Times concluded that her e-mail had “probably” (i.e. almost certainly) been hacked during visits to China and Russia.[2]  This raises the possibility that the Russkies accessed her e-mail before she ended her tenure as Secretary of State and before she wiped the 30,000 “personal” e-mails from the server.

The New York Times has been quick to engage in damage control.  In its view, the released e-mails from the DNC “portrayed some [DNC] officials as favoring Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy while denigrating her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders.”  It pointed out that the DNC had been targeted, but “apparently not those of the Republican National Committee.”[3]  This farcical idea is used to introduce a reference to Watergate and, by implication, Richard Nixon.

Assuming that the Russians had hacked Clinton’s e-mail server, Donald Trump urged the Russians to release the now-deleted e-mails. “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI.”

Nevertheless, the incident has become more of a problem for Republicans than for Democrats.[4]  For example, Paul Ryan’s spokesman responded by denouncing Russia and Vladimir Putin as “a global menace led by a devious thug.”  For their part, the Democrats quickly portrayed Trump as having invited the Russians to hack a server that had—in reality–been out of operation for four years.

Did the Russians hack the Clinton e-mail server while it still functioned?  Did they provide any information to the Obama Administration through the FBI legal attache in the Moscow embassy?[5]  How would revealing the contents of her personal e-mails harm Hillary Clinton’s chances to become president?  Should American voters anticipate an “October surprise”[6] based on these hacked e-mails?

[1] Ashley Parker and David E. Sanger, “Trump Eggs On Moscow In Hack of Clinton Email,” NYT, 28 July 2016.

[2] David Sanger, “Hillary Clinton’s Email Was Probably Hacked, Experts Say,” NYT, 6 July 2016.

[3] It would be odd if the Russians did not attack the computer systems o both major parties.  Perhaps we’re waiting on revelations about Republican plans to derail Donald Trump.

[4] Or perhaps I just read the wrong newspapers.

[5] Not likely.

[6] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_surprise on the origins of the term.

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