Email Controversy Begins to Weigh on Hillary Clinton’s Allies

NYT FDMaggie Haberman August 20, 2015

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Good Thursday morning. The debate over immigration continues to intensify on the campaign trail, but some Republicans are trying to keep things low-key. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is back from Haiti and will soon head west, while Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is en route to Michigan to lay out his economic agenda. As for the Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email remains the saga of the summer.

In the realm of scandals that the Clintons have combated over the years, the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server at the State Department seems almost picayune, and comparatively easy to handle.

But the questions surrounding her use of email while she was the secretary of state have proved durable, and her allies are increasingly concerned about whether she has a political strategy to address it. Mrs. Clinton’s answers have generally stayed the same since her March news conference when the issue first surfaced: that she set up the server situation for “convenience,” that she was not breaking with the practice of her predecessors, and that she sent no classified emails. (She has since said nothing she sent was marked classified at the time.)

Yet now that the F.B.I. is investigating the security of her server, the questions persist, and Mrs. Clinton’s patience for such questions appears to be waning. At a news conference in Nevada this week, she left after under five minutes, tilting her head from side to side as Ed Henry of Fox News, pressed her on the server.

Her campaign’s press secretary, Brian Fallon, held a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, and emphasized the point that the designations for intelligence classifications are highly subjective, and that part of the issue here stems from intra-agency disagreement. Some of Mrs. Clinton’s allies agree, but the issue is costing Mrs. Clinton politically, and some of her supporters are looking to her to provide clarity — and less irritation with the topic.

Mrs. Clinton has said that no voters question her about her email practices. She has held few spontaneous events, providing limited opportunity for it to come up. But among her supporters, the questions have lingered.