It is rare for news events, even as momentous as the past week's, to drown out absolute proof that a candidate for president has lied willfully to the public and Congress. Yet precisely such proof has emerged, and it has appeared not only in this newspaper but also in The New York Times (albeit with a headline designed not to draw attention).
Americans learned this spring that Hillary Clinton, in contravention of federal records rules and current law, conducted all her State Department business using a private email address, housed in a server at her home in Westchester County, N.Y.
But not to worry — the former secretary of state swore that she had diligently preserved and passed to the State Department every email she had written in the course of her job. Even though she destroyed all the evidence by wiping the server afterward, she assured the public that everything related to her conduct of official business had been kept and turned over, as the law requires.
It turns out that this is not true. Not only did Clinton fail to turn over work-related emails, but she or her staff also edited some of those emails before submitting them, as the Examiner's Sarah Westwood reported Saturday.
The missing materials, which the State Department says it does not have, came to Congress by other means. They include writings about the jockeying for oil contracts in Libya after President Obama engaging in a war without congressional approval to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi. This comes among her back-and-forth emails with Sidney Blumenthal, a former staffer who had been barred from employment in the Obama administration, to continue offering his insight and advice on Libya.
It is possible but not plausible to construe these omissions as an honest mistake. The wife of a president who caviled over "what the the meaning of the word 'is' is" will split hairs and dispute what is and what is not a work-related email.
But the proof of intent to deceive comes in the fact that Clinton or her staff actually edited some of the emails and turned over censored versions to State before destroying her copy of the originals.
One of Clinton's emails to Blumenthal, for example, arrived at State missing a description of a telephone call she had with Libya's new president. She also tampered with Blumenthal's words in some cases. For example, she removed his admonition that "simply completing the election...and fulfilling a list of proper democratic milestones may not create a true democracy," and his warning that Libya could soon be ruled by Islamic law.
What was the motive for these excisions? Perhaps the motive was to spare Clinton some embarrassment, because surely she did not expect anyone to know about her reliance on Blumenthal as a source of intelligence.
But that is not the only question. Another is, if Clinton and her staff went over these emails finely enough to edit and remove portions of them, is it not likely that she tampered with others, or just dropped them down the memory hole? Recall that Clinton submitted her communications on paper and not electronically, which is a way of cleaning up any hidden electronic signs of tampering.
There is no way to put a good face on this one: Hillary Clinton lied about her emails. She had something to hide, and she hid it. She deliberately deceived Congress, which asked for her communications on Libya, and she spoke falsely to the public.
Once a public figure can no longer be trusted, Congress has an obligation to restore transparency. Congress should demand physical possession of Clinton's server and let the best minds in the computer world attempt to put the pieces back together again.