"The American people are sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails," Bernie Sanders said back in October—but the latest report from the State Department's independent watchdog has ensured that the American people will be hearing an awful lot about Hillary Clinton's emails between now and November if she becomes the Democratic nominee. Analysts say that despite the Clinton campaign's efforts to downplay the issue, critics such as Donald Trump now have more than enough ammunition to keep it in voters' minds for months to come. A roundup of reactions:
- The email scandal has just become much worse for Clinton, who was already "struggling to overcome a perception that she is neither honest nor trustworthy," writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. He notes that, as her campaign stresses, previous secretaries of state, including Colin Powell, also failed to follow email policy—but Powell isn't running for president.
- The latest report underlines the fact that voters simply don't trust Clinton, and they usually cite the emails as the reason why, writes Amy Chozick at the New York Times. The inspector general's report speaks "directly to a wounding perception that Mrs. Clinton is not forthright or transparent," she writes. Chozick predicts that Clinton's hopes of "running a high-minded, policy-focused campaign" are now over—and that Donald Trump's "Crooked Hillary" line of attack will continue.
- At Politico, Josh Gerstein writes that while the watchdog's findings don't land any "devastating blows" against Clinton, they "provide ample grist to keep questions about her handling of the situation alive" as the White House race heats up. One of the big questions is whether anybody falsely claimed that Clinton's email setup had been approved at the State Department.
- The Hill notes that there are other "potential storms" ahead for Clinton, including the House Select Committee on Benghazi's final report and the conclusion of the FBI's email investigation, which has "the greatest potential to upset the presidential race" if it leads to an indictment.
- A blistering Washington Post editorial slams Clinton's "inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules," noting that the latest report makes it clear that rather than this being a "casual oversight," Clinton ignored many warnings. The editorial board urges the FBI to "finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters."
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