No, Republicans, you don’t have your huffing, smoking gun.
We don’t get to live in a world where reality matters to one of the two political parties running our country. And so, it is left to fact-checkers to sift their way through the endless barrage of conspiracies breathlessly shared by “concerned” Republicans like Speaker John Boehner‘s office, the Republican National Committee, Fox News, Breitbart, the Blaze et al after former Secretary of State and Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails were released.
FactCheck.Org drowned Republicans’ flaming hopes on Friday, announcing, “The Republican National Committee thinks it has the smoking gun that proves Hillary Clinton used “multiple secret email addresses” as secretary of state. It doesn’t.”
Here’s the story. The Republican National Committee histrionically announced to the world on May 18 that they had Hillary Clinton now because her published emails (New York Times) showed two accounts (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.) and she said she only had one while in office!
You see, they cried, she had “email@example.com” while she was Secretary of State! GOTCHA!!!! We win 2016 even without a good candidate!!!
But wait. Clinton has an explanation that sorta makes a lot of sense, at least to the guy who invented email, and let’s face it, he’s probably better at email technology than the RNC or Speaker Boehenr’s office, if history is any indicator.
But the Clinton campaign says there is a simple explanation for this apparent discrepancy: The emails published by the Times were printed out in 2014 after Clinton had left the State Department and after she had changed her email address, so the printed copies of emails she sent while in office display her new address (firstname.lastname@example.org), even though they were originally sent under her old address (email@example.com). We agree that this is possible.
The Clinton explanation passed two tests — including one conducted for us by Ray Tomlinson, the man who is widely credited with inventing email.
The results of the test Tomlinson ran were consistent with the Clinton campaign’s explanation. Score a big one for reality and a large negative for the Republican claims. And FactCheck did their own test which also confirmed the Clinton campaign’s explanation:
We at FactCheck.org also tested Clinton’s explanation. Our IT staff created firstname.lastname@example.org and renamed it email@example.com. An email sent by firstname.lastname@example.org printed out as if it had come from email@example.com after we changed the name of the email account.
And so, at long last, there is no smoking gun for the Republicans’ conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton having secret email accounts (like many of their candidates and indeed politicians of both parties – kind of bizarre that they want to go here with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker on their side).
So while it is possible that there is a smoking gun about secret emails hiding out on Mars or wherever it is that Republicans get their wild ideas, they haven’t found it yet.
What we do know, however, is that the emails posted by the Times do not support the RNC’s claim that Clinton had “multiple secret email addresses” as secretary of state, and there is no evidence to contradict Clinton’s claim that she created firstname.lastname@example.org after she left office.
No proof of multiple secret emails.
If this were not coming a party driven by and for conspiracy nuts, this would be the end of the exhausting and diligent effort to bust former Secretary Hillary Clinton for something. Anything. Especially related to Republicans’ favorite conspiracy, Benghazi.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.