Supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and even a few non-supporters — are having a good laugh over the report that first daughter/senior adviser Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to transact official business.
On Twitter, John Dean (yes, that John Dean) opined: “Dems should run this to ground given her father thought a very big deal when it involved Hillary. So it’s got to be (a) big deal for Ivanka!” Newsweek, in tweeting out its story, used the inevitable teaser: “Lock her up?”
The mirth — and bitterness — are understandable. It’s an article of faith among Clinton supporters that the issue of her emails was overblown (including by the “liberal” media). And it’s hard not to chuckle at the irony of improper email traffic ensnaring the daughter of a president who claimed Clinton’s actions were “worse than Watergate.”
I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but the differences between the Clinton and Ivanka email offenses are as noteworthy as the similarities. First of all, Clinton was the secretary of State with access to sensitive information; Ivanka Trump has a vastly less important (and more amorphous) portfolio. More important, the Washington Post, which broke this story, noted that the FBI eventually determined that 110 of Clinton’s emails contained classified information at the time they were sent or received. A spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s lawyer said that none of her emails contained classified information.
If that’s true, it’s an important difference. It’s possible to believe that Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information (the quotation is from former FBI Director James B. Comey’s famous news conference) and that she a) shouldn’t have been prosecuted and b) should have been elected president rather than Donald Trump.
As the Los Angeles Times put it in a Nov. 2. 2016, editorial reiterating our endorsement of Clinton: “There is no comparison between Clinton’s carelessness in corresponding with colleagues and the recklessness that Trump would bring to the conduct of actual foreign policy. And that is only one of a multitude of differences between the two nominees.”
Clinton shouldn’t have been “locked up” for her email infractions, and neither should Ivanka Trump based on what the Post has reported. That doesn’t mean the two situations are interchangeable, or that Democrats should see Ivanka’s indiscretions as somehow justifying Clinton’s carelessness with sensitive information or her penchant for secrecy. It may not have been a crime — it shouldn’t have cost her the election — but it was a big deal.
Michael McGough is the Los Angeles Times’ senior editorial writer, based in Washington, D.C.
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