The Green Party's nominee for president rejoined the debate about Hillary Clinton's use of email at the State Department on Tuesday, telling reporters that Clinton clearly "attempted to cover up" shady behavior by using a private server.
"It's not a coincidence that Hillary has the numbers that she has, as one of the most untrusted presidential candidates ever," said Jill Stein at the National Press Club on Tuesday morning. "Regardless of the legality, this just raises serious questions about judgment and character."
Stein, who has asked supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders's defeated primary campaign to join her and the Greens, has taken a harder line on the email story than Sanders ever did. At the first televised debate of the Democratic primaries, Sanders famously told Clinton that voters were "sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." When pushed on that story, or the Clinton Foundation's alleged influence at State, Sanders tended to demur and criticize the media for focusing on scandal instead of issues.
Stein had no such qualms. "Why did she put national security information and the names of CIA secret agents — why were they put at risk?" she asked. "She was clear about this, and the Inspector General's report on the emails makes this point. Hillary told her staff, she did not want her business to be subject to FOIA."
The IG's report does not quite say that about Clinton; it does note that she was warned that a state.gov address, loaded on her BlackBerry, would "go through the Department's infrastructure and [be] subject to FOIA searches." But the question of whether to trust Clinton's word has vexed the left since the scandal broke in the spring of 2015. Voters who supported Sanders in the primaries were likely, according to exit polls, to say Clinton was not trustworthy. Since the Democratic National Convention ended, Democrats are the only voters who say that Clinton is more trustworthy than not.
Stein is not playing for those voters. At the National Press Club, she raised questions about whether the Clinton Foundation had influenced who did and didn't get access to the State Department and who did and didn't get military aid.
"Where did her personal family financial business end, and where did the official business of State begin?" she asked. "To me, the mere fact that half of her emails she classified as 'private' — if someone is on the job, and half of their emails are for private affairs, there's something wrong here. The continuing revelations about the influence of Clinton Foundation donors — the special deals that they got, the lucrative deals, the weapons deals with Saudi Arabia — this is really a national scandal."
While Saudi and Bahrain royals donated to the Foundation, the United States did not alter its relationship with those countries during Clinton's state tenure. Military aid to Saudi Arabia has been a source of controversy for years, though the largest sale of arms did occur while Clinton was at State. Military aid to Bahrain only resumed in 2015, two years after Clinton left.
After the news conference, Stein clarified that the Clinton Foundation might well have done good through its philanthropy.
"I would not deny that at all," she said. "I would not want to be in the business of saying that we should shut down the Clinton Foundation. I'm not going to pass judgment on that. What I would say is that we should not be in the business of mingling the private business of a personal, nonprofit foundation, with our government, and allowing the biggest and wealthiest individuals to have influence over our government. If someone is on the job, and half of their emails are for private affairs, there's something wrong here. Either the private is leaking into the public, or something's going wrong."