Over the past year, I've seen maybe two minor attempts by German state-run/public-TV to explain the whole investigation and problem with the Hillary Clinton e-mail server story. Both did their best to tell the story as a 'honest mistake'....that she just didn't know about things like this. So, when the story gets brought up over and over, Germans tend to act puzzled and think it's mostly just a witch-hunt.
I've sat and thought about this story a good bit, and there's only one way to explain it to a German.
So, imagine that twenty years ago....Frank-Walter Steinmeier (faithful member of the SPD Party, one-time Chancellor candidate in Germany, current Foreign Minister, and soon-to-be President of Germany) decided at the youthful age of 41 year old in 1997....while he was becoming a noted member of the German political scene....to open up his own charity foundation.
Naturally, the Steinmeier Foundation would be a charity operation and work for the good of the German people and humanity. It's also be a tax-free operation and avoid all taxes.
As the months and years passed, the Steinmeier Foundation was often the way that you got Frank to come out and make a speech to your company, organization or foundation. A check here.....a check there. All for the good of the German people and humanity.
At some point, Frank decides that he will accept the post of Foreign Minister of Germany. He actually knows of the offer six months ahead of time, and decides that he will need his own email account and personal server....even though the German Foreign Ministry operates a 24-hour IT section and has all of the modern tools of firewalls, and virus-checkers. Frank has his foundation hire a guy to handle the private server. Frank of course, does all of this....without saying much of anything outside of his private circle at the ministry.
As Frank steps into his job, he decides that he really needs a lot of information....some of which is on closely guarded networks within the German Foreign Ministry....on classified and highly-classified computers. Frank says to his inner circle of support.....he doesn't have time to use the right computers for the right levels of information....so just bundle it up, cut and paste, and send it to his private e-mail account at Frank@Frank.com.
Yes, all kinds of BND-level info and insider Merkel comments....which would be classified but now flowing to Frank's private home account.
Oh, and so you know about this detail....Frank's private e-mail server? It's sitting in a bathroom closet at his apartment in Berlin. The maid has access to it.
You should know this as well....Frank and the administrator aren't the only ones with access to the e-mails. Frank has another individual.....not approved for work within the German government....who reads these e-mails on fairly regular basis. The other guy? He's an employee of the Steinmeier Foundation....NOT the German government.
Frank's foundation during this period? It continues to get donations on a frequent and regular basis. In fact, Saudis, French, and various countries....along with business foundations donate to the Foundation.
The good stuff that the Steinmeier Foundation does? Ninety-three percent of the yearly expenditures go toward operational cost, rent, salaries, and travel cost of the Foundation. Only seven-percent goes to charities or humanity.
One day, the whole story starts to come out....mostly because there's supposed to be a German law which dictates achieving all e-mails. Frank says he'll get a copy of his server, but you eventually learn that Frank had members of his inner circle go and clear off various e-mails before they were given over to the archive folks. So you aren't sure about having all of the important e-mails.
At some point, you learn that the Chinese, the Russians, and various characters could have gotten into Frank's private e-mail server. Yeah, they probably knew everything that Frank said for the whole period.
As matters progress, you learn that Frank had a trusted assistant in Berlin who was married to this charming young political gentleman. At some point, the cops get a call that the young charming husband of this gal....has been on the side sex-chatting with an underage gal, and there has to be a police investigation....which oddly involves search and seizure of his computer in the house. Oddly, the cops find all of Frank's missing emails on this computer, which no one....not even Frank....can say how these got on the guy's computer.
As the days shorten and it's almost time for the election, Frank says there's nothing to worry about and full-speed ahead. Just vote for Frank, and things will be fine.
In the real German world, there would be this meeting of the upper-level of the SPD Party, and at some point, they would make a decision that Frank had some false character problems....couldn't handle management duties....and this Frank Steinmeier Foundation wasn't exactly a positive deal for humanity or Germans. So, the SPD would do the right thing....they'd dismiss him from the party, for the good of the party and the nation.
The thing about this story which doesn't fit? Frank Steinmeier, the real guy.....would never have been this naive or stupid. He wouldn't have invented some foundation for humanity with false intentions. And he wouldn't have been so stupid as to advertise everything he did with the Chinese, Russians or anyone else.