Armstrong Williams (26543)
Armstrong Williams

Despite her assertions to the contrary, the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email address is not just an issue for the reporters she wishes would stop peppering her with questions on the topic. It is an issue that gets right to the heart of a vital question: Shouldn’t the American people trust the person they elect to sit in the Oval Office as president? 

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust.” If only the inverse were true. However, the track record of obfuscations and lack of forthrightness by Clinton make it increasingly hard for her to be trusted.

That certainly seems to be the opinion of the people. But don’t just take my word for it, look at the numbers in recent surveys. A national Quinnipiac University poll released last month indicated that “trustworthy” and “honest” are not words that a majority of Americans would use to describe her. In fact, nearly 6 in 10 of those who participated in the study said that she did not possess those traits. The respondents included people from all across the political spectrum. At the same time, that poll also found that 1 in 3 voters actually considered being “honest and trustworthy” as the single most important trait in a candidate.

Clinton’s trustworthiness problem with voters no doubt has been colored by her statements and actions while serving as a senator from New York and as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Scandal after scandal has dogged her, making the FBI investigation the latest in a long string of controversies. 

Part of what is most perplexing is the obvious lack of judgment that undergirded her decision to become the first secretary of state ever to only use a private email address and server while serving in an official capacity as America’s top diplomat.

Since the revelations that her home-based email setup was unencrypted for long stretches, potentially exposing sensitive U.S. government information to hackers and foreign intelligence services, Clinton has been forced to admit that the decision to utilize her own email system was hardly a wise one. Americans are correct to expect and demand good judgment from their elected officials, and this expectation is especially true when considering that she is running for the opportunity to serve as president of the United States. 

Another vital question raised by this whole unfortunate mess, which is entirely of her own creation, relates to accountability. What has upset so many Americans is the arrogance inherent in actions suggesting that Clinton felt that she was entitled to play by a different set of rules than everyone else. 

Handling classified information is something all of our government employees and officials are expected to treat with utmost seriousness, and rightly so. We live in a dangerous world replete with threats to our national security, and we expect public servants to follow the same rules that we demand of members of our military and intelligence services when safeguarding our nation’s secrets.

Even within the past year, top generals have seen their careers ended by the mishandling of classified information, forced to pay steep fines and face the prospect of jail time. Men and women who fail to adhere to the law when handling classified information are fired from jobs, stripped of pensions and sometimes even thrown behind bars for flaunting the rules of secrecy designed to protect our country. So should anything be different just because someone happens to be running for president? If not equal, then the bar for adherence to the rule of law should be even higher for those who aspire to lead this country.

Months ago, when the facts had not yet come to light, Clinton repeatedly asserted that she never sent or received any classified information on her insecure homemade email system, but now ample evidence suggests that her assertion is simply not true. In fact, more than 300 of her emails have been marked as possibly containing secret information, according to the State Department. Meanwhile, only a fraction of her emails have been examined at this point. 

With her poll numbers dropping, Clinton is clearly concerned. Her awkward and defensive reactions to continued media focus on this critically important topic suggest an eagerness to brush this off, but that will not work. The charges involved in this case are serious. Her ill-received jokes about how she should have used Snapchat so that her messages would have disappeared make light of a sober situation with potential security implications for America. Surely Clinton must understand that the mishandling of classified information is no laughing matter.

Armstrong Williams is owner and of manager Howard Stirk Holdings and hosts a nationally broadcast show on SiriusXM 126, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily and on Sinclair Broadcast TV. He is the executive editor of the American CurrentSee online magazine. Watch our Right Side Forum every Saturday, live on Newschannel 8 TV 28 in D.C. from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. with repeats at 6:30 p.m.