Before even confronting Trump, the Democratic candidate has a serious obstacle to overcome. It is of a legal nature and brings her professionalism into question.

Hillary Clinton’s problem in the weeks to come is that she has serious legal baggage that she absolutely must get rid of. It’s the so-called email controversy, a concern that is much more serious than it appears. And it’s been ongoing since before the desperate measures taken by Bernie Sanders, who does not intend to stop biting at her heels, and before she even confronted Donald Trump in a duel that is far from being won by default.

When Clinton was appointed Barack Obama’s secretary of state on Jan. 21, 2009, she insisted on keeping her BlackBerry smartphone for her personal correspondence. Those in charge of her department’s security very reluctantly agreed — but on the condition that she place it in a safe every time went to her offices on the seventh floor of the building, the completely secure headquarters of “Foggy Bottom” (the location of the Department of State) christened “Mahogany Row.” This was an obligation by which the new secretary of state never really accepted being bound, under the pretext that she received “torrents” of emails from her colleagues, envoys, friends and supporters. The issue reached such a point that on Feb. 2, less than a month after her arrival, intelligence chiefs at the National Security Agency and the CIA scheduled a meeting with Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. They informed her about the risk of the secretary of state’s smartphone being taken over by a hacker and turned into a microphone. This had already happened 10 years previously in the Department of State with a telephone that was hacked by the Russians.

Vulnerable Communications

The problem was amplified when the experts discovered another information technology weakness in Clinton’s email system. Her smartphone was managed by a private server located in the cellar of her home in Chappaqua, New York. This also happened to be the server used by her husband Bill’s foundation, with an address far less original than the one attributed to her: All this obviously increased the vulnerability of her communications. Yet, despite multiple requests from intelligence specialists, Hillary Clinton would not give up her personal BlackBerry. Nor would she accept, as was suggested to her, sending and receiving her emails over a secure computer in her office. On the other hand, the NSA did not permit the allocation of a hyper-encrypted telephone to Hillary Clinton, as is the case with President Obama. It was too expensive, they told her.

When the email controversy was revealed 10 months ago by The New York Times, it immediately led to complaints from the organization Judicial Watch. Citing the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch believed that this personal smartphone system may have enabled documents relating to national security to have been concealed while Hillary Clinton was in office, as well as possibly enabling documents of historical importance to have been removed from the archives. An FBI investigation was launched. Since July 2015, dozens of Hillary Clinton’s colleagues have been interviewed. Thousands of emails (more than 50,000, it appears) have been recovered from her private server. This is a colossal task that cost the American taxpayer thousands of dollars, as Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who leads the team of 150 investigators, has already lamented.

Everything Still To Play For

Hillary Clinton will now be interviewed by investigators in the coming days. The judge announced this after having questioned Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, last week. Up until now, the magistrate has acknowledged that the former secretary of state cannot be accused of anything criminal, with the exception of the obvious lack of essential security rules at such a level. “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” Clinton said. In the ruthless battle against Donald Trump that awaits her, it’s easy to see the advantage that he won’t hesitate to draw from this email controversy and the Democratic candidate’s carelessness – even if the attorney general decides to end the investigation by not filing any charges against her. Hillary Clinton has made her professionalism her best argument against a man who has never held public office, never had any political responsibility and whose knowledge of government files is scarce, to say the least. Mrs. Clinton now finds herself in a position of weakness. Suffice it to say that the American presidential election is far from over.