If you’re standing up, please sit down. There’s no easy way to tell you this—your Mom and Dad still love you very much—but Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct official state business, sometimes on sensitive matters, when he was the governor of Indiana. Who cares? Well, exactly. Other than Gov. Mike Pence is now Vice President Mike Pence, in part, because of his incessant baying about Hillary Clinton using a private email address! Lock him up? Ahem.
No, the two email situations are not exactly the same, but the latest email revelation uncovered by the Indianapolis Star shows the full extent of Pence’s gall and the Trump ticket’s utter shamelessness in manufacturing the issue of Clinton’s use of a private email address and server for electoral gain. From the Indianapolis Star:
Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues. Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show 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. 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.
In response to the report, Pence’s office released this statement Thursday.
Similar to previous governors, during his time as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence maintained a state email account and a personal email account. As Governor, Mr. Pence fully complied with Indiana law regarding email use and retention. Government emails involving his state and personal accounts are being archived by the state consistent with Indiana law, and are being managed according to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act.
Sound familiar? Replace governor with secretary of state and Indiana with the United States and this could have been Hillary Clinton’s statement in defense of her email usage.
In both cases, Clinton and Pence were, at best, far too cavalier about transparency and accountability. Without a doubt, Hillary Clinton was dealing with more sensitive information of greater national importance, but let’s not forget that the email outrage started on the right, not totally without merit, over Clinton’s lack of transparency. The GOP thinking went that she was hiding something—incriminating Benghazi messages, evidence the moon landing was faked, something!—and only as tens of thousands of her State Department emails were released did the GOP outrage strategically settle on the fact that she may have transmitted classified material as a winning issue.
So, knowing that he, himself used a private, AOL (!) email account, then–Gov. Mike Pence took to the stump, the soapbox, and the airwaves to say things like this: “What’s evident from all of the revelations over the last several weeks is that Hillary Clinton operated in such a way to keep her emails, and particularly her interactions while Secretary of State with the Clinton Foundation, out of the public reach, out of public accountability,” Pence said on NBC's Meet the Press in September. “And with regard to classified information she either knew or should have known that she was placing classified information in a way that exposed it to being hacked and being made available in the public domain even to enemies of this country.”
The fact that Mike Pence does not operate in good faith is not a complete surprise; he is after all Donald Trump’s wingman, and you need not look much farther than Pence’s performance in the Vice Presidential debate to see—despite his earnest folksiness—the man is cunningly adept at doublespeak and gaslighting. To make the Pence email offensive even more absurd is that in the Meet the Press interview he sounds like a guy who understands cybersecurity and takes it seriously. She could have been hacked! She should have known better!
It will likely not shock you that then–Gov. Pence’s AOL account was hacked. How do we know this? We know this because “a hacker sent a counterfeit email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife had been attacked on their way back to their hotel in the Philippines, losing their money, bank cards and mobile phone,” according to the Star. “In response, Pence sent an email to those who had received the fake communication apologizing for any inconvenience. He also set up a new AOL account.”
I look forward to being BCC’d on the vice president’s apology email to the country.