Republicans are apoplectic over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, accusing her of violating the public’s trust by failing to uphold accountability and transparency in government. Donald Trump even says the Democrat belongs in jail for deleting thousands of emails she sent while heading the State Department.
On Sunday, the GOP nominee accused Clinton of “willful and deliberate criminal conduct” in the wake of news that the FBI is investigating an additional batch of emails.
Yet both Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have acted to shield their own electronic communication from the public eye.
In a deeply reported cover story published by Newsweek on Monday, Kurt Eichenwald detailed how the real estate mogul and his companies hid or destroyed thousands of documents in numerous court cases dating back to at least 1973:
Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.
Trump’s demands for transparency from his opponent also fly in the face of his campaign ― he has still not released his tax returns, a tradition followed by every major-party nominee in the last 40 years, and it does not appear he will do so before Election Day. Nor has he provided the public adequate information regarding his health and physical fitness, pertinent data for a 70-year-old candidate.
Pence has also tried to skirt Indiana open records laws. In April, his lawyers argued that an Indiana Supreme Court decision shielding state lawmakers from open records requests ought to apply to the governor as well. Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, called the move troubling because it “further shuts the door to accountability and transparency in government when we should be going the opposite direction.”
The comparison isn’t perfect ― Clinton operated a private email server as secretary of state that potentially could have put national security at risk. But when it comes to the issue of transparency, Trump and Pence are throwing stones from glass houses.