Back when he was governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct official government business, per an investigation from the Indianapolis Star. This is, as any sane person would admit, not the biggest deal in the world. And in a sane universe, it would be a relatively small story. But in the actual universe, the most-covered story of the 2016 presidential election campaign — by far — was a pseudo-scandal over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct official State Department business.
And Pence — like his running mate and virtually every Republican elected official in the country — professed to believe it was a huge deal.
.@realDonaldTrump and I commend the FBI for reopening an investigation into Clinton's personal email server because no one is above the law.— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) October 28, 2016
What’s perhaps most interesting about the Pence story is that, as the Indianapolis Star’s investigation shows, the merely hypothetical security risks Republicans raised about Clinton’s emails were genuine problems with Pence’s account:
- “Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe.”
- “Pence's personal account was hacked last summer.”
- “In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.”
Critics frequently charged that even if the security of Clinton’s email account was never provably compromised, the real problem is that the account was an effort to evade public records law. Clinton retained lawyers to sift through the archives and hand the work-related ones over to the government, but that’s different from a normal setup using .gov servers in which all work emails would automatically be recorded.
Pence, it turns out, is following the exact same process:
Pence's office said his campaign hired outside counsel as he was departing as governor to review his AOL emails and transfer any involving public business to the state.
The distinction Pence is leaning on is that he conducted official business using an AOL email account, whereas Clinton conducted official business using a server that her family set up after they left the White House.