But His Emails!

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr. Richard Drew/AP

The latest White House scandal brings the nation’s attention back to the inbox.

Nothing like a presidential scandal to turn something utterly mundane into a national obsession. But here we are, once again, talking about emails.

The emails. Oh, the emails!

During the 2016 presidential campaign, email became a symbol of Hillary Clinton’s alleged corruption. Clinton’s aides wiped about 33,000 emails from a private server she used during her time as secretary of state, and Donald Trump made the deletions a cornerstone of his campaign against her.

“How can anyone vote for Hillary when she careless with emails that jeopardize our security,” he tweeted in September 2015. “She is not to be trusted.”

Then, in June 2016: “How can Hillary run the economy when she can't even send emails without putting entire nation at risk?” And also: “One of the reasons Hillary hid her emails was so the public wouldn't see how she got rich- selling out America.”

A year later, in July 2016: “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

That last one still raises an eyebrow. Especially today. What the American people didn’t know at the time, and what we know now, is that Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had been doing some scandalous emailing of his own related to Russia.

On June 3, 2016, Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, a Trump associate, former tabloid reporter, and entertainment publicist. Goldstone promised information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” The New York Times on Tuesday first reported the contents of the email exchange, which Trump Jr. also released on Twitter. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone had written. Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” (You can read a transcript of the entire exchange here.)

In an earlier era, this sort of exchange might have taken place over the phone, or via telegram, or, you know, face to face. So it makes sense the scandal of the moment is tied to a ubiquitous form of communication. Especially when that form of communication is so easily forwarded, or copied, or hacked. Given it was the utter carelessness Donald Trump seemed to find most offensive about Clinton’s use of a private server, one can only imagine the conversation he’s having with his son today. This scandal isn’t really about email, after all; it’s about how Trump Jr. used it.

Clinton’s supporters have long cried, “but her emails!” as a way to minimize the Clinton email scandal in comparison and maximize Trump’s hypocrisies. Yes, Clinton should have known better than to use an outside server to conduct government business. But Trump Jr. is now learning a similarly rudimentary lesson. Email is not a secure way to communicate, but lots of people are sloppy with it anyway. The common-sense advice is this: Don’t write anything in an email you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow. (This is a thought exercise that no longer requires imagination for Trump Jr.)

“Part of the reason Donald Trump Jr. is finding himself in hot water right now is he forwarded an entire email chain,” said Amy Webb, the writer and founder of the Future Today Institute. “I can’t state that enough. Email is penetrable. Unless you are using a lockdown system and encryption, anybody can access it.”

The fact an email-centered scandal has boomeranged back to the Trump White House isn’t the only irony, Webb says, noting reports the White House has gutted its Office of Science and Technology Policy. (The White House disputes this characterization.)

“These are some fundamental misunderstandings by the people who are now deciding technology policy,” she said, “in the absence of real scientists and technologists who know what they’re doing.”

For many people, it’s not at all practical to avoid email entirely. And it’s arguably lucky for the American people that those in positions of power are sometimes careless. A paper trail, even a digital one, can reveal important information politicians would otherwise keep secret. But, as Trump Sr. once suggested, carelessness with something so simple as email is a red flag. A person who’d jeopardize security that way, he said, is “not to be trusted.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.