Hillary Clinton’s emails are the recurring headache of the 2016 election.

First there was the FBI investigation into her private email server, which ended on an anticlimactic recommendation of no criminal charges. Then there was the dump of top Democratic National Committee members’ emails, which corresponded uncomfortably with the started of the Democratic National Convention.

This October, Wikileaks treated us to emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. And now, to top it all off, the has FBI decided to investigate newly found emails that merely pertain to the previous investigation. 

What have we learned from this relentless torrent of Clinton-centered emails? Some members of the DNC seemed biased toward her — and against Bernie Sanders — in the primaries. The decision to use a private email server was “extremely careless.” And John Podesta makes really great risotto

But we have also learned about a softer side of Clinton; one we rarely get to see in a presidential candidate.

In her private emails, Clinton expressed a seemingly genuine concern for the people she met as secretary of state. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than an email Clinton sent to a staff member in August 2009.

“Do you recall Noori Ali(?)” Clinton wrote, referring to Nujood Ali, the first child bride ever to secure a divorce in Yemen. “...There was a CNN story last few days about how unhappy she is, still living at home, not attending school and quite angry that her life is not better. Is there any way we can help her? Could we get her to the US for counselling and education?
Clinton had met Ali the year before, when the 10-year-old was awarded Woman of the Year at the 2008 Glamour Awards. Since then, Ali’s life had taken a turn for the worse. She struggled to buy food and couldn’t afford transportation to school. Her family seemed to resent her for not providing for them with her newfound fame.

True to her word, Clinton met up with Ali two years later.

The secretary of state reconnected with Ali during a trip to Yemen in 2011. She called Ali to the stage during a local town hall meeting and called the girl her “hero.” Later, she reported that Ali had re-enrolled in school, and that her lawyer, Shada Nasser, was still taking cases for Yemeni girls.

“I often say that one of my goals as Secretary of State is to help people everywhere live up to their God-given potential,” Clinton wrote in a reflection for Glamour. “Few have fought as hard for it as Nujood Ali and Shada Nasser. I'm honored to know them. We all should share their cause.”

Ali’s autobiography is now a best-seller in France, and serves as the basis for a full-length film headed to the 2017 Oscars.

Regardless, Clinton’s emails are sure to tarnish her reputation as a candidate, and (God willing,) as a president.

This issue has haunted her campaign since its earliest days, and seems unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Her team has been reduced to suggesting bias by the FBI in order to negate its impacts. Clinton herself largely ignores the issue.

For some people, the private email server could be Hillary Clinton’s Access Hollywood tapes: the one issue she can’t pivot away from, no matter how hard she tries. But for one little girl in 2008, it wasn’t the woman defending these emails that mattered — it was the woman sending them. 

Main image from Flickr/2.0/Gage Skidmore