It almost seems mean to draw attention to State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf’s fumbling inability to handle questions about the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
She’s been driven around the bend by far simpler questions than this. Also, she’s trying to juggle a rapidly aging pile of lies and evasions Clintonworld pumped out about the scandal before bombshell revelations started hitting by the hour. The press is trying to go as easy as possible on her in this clip, but not even softball is easy to play when you’re standing on quicksand.
Let’s give credit where it’s due and applaud Harf for resisting the temptation to begin claiming that Clinton handed over 55,000 emails for review – a “mistake” her defenders and friendly media are starting to make with increasing frequency.
The volume of material in question is 55,000 pages, as Harf accurately says. Each email is several pages long; some of them would become small booklets if printed on paper, given all of the additional material and repetitive quotations built into long email conversations. We don’t know exactly how much material Hillary has been hiding from citizens and congressional investigators on her private server – that’s one of the big problems with what she has done – but it’s a safe bet that the emails contained in those 55,000 pages represents a fairly small portion of her total Secretary of State correspondence, plus whatever got slipped into the secret server by the Clinton aides who were given access to it.
That’s also why it’s absurd for Harf to claim she doesn’t think Hillary was anything but forthcoming. You don’t know how much she’s hiding, Ms. Harf. No one does, except Hillary and her server administrators. Also, the State Department only got the 55,000 pages Hillary saw fit to hand over because it requested the material after Clinton left office – Hillary did not volunteer anything.
Then we get into this weird business about the State Department’s classified and unclassified mail systems… both of which were subverted by Hillary Clinton. She didn’t use either of those systems, Ms. Harf. That’s the problem. It would still be a problem if Hillary used the classified and/or unclassified systems most of the time, and used her private server on occasion, but she never used the State Department systems she was required by law to use.
Part of the dance Harf tries to do here implies the State Department doesn’t really have any way of managing classified information at all – who knows what people are dumping through those state.gov servers? True hilarity ensues when the questioner points out that Hillary’s secret server wasn’t certified to handle the classified material she has unquestionably routed through it – there was no other way to email anything to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Somehow Harf thinks endlessly repeating the irrelevant detail that the State Department has parallel classified and unclassified systems is a response to this criticism, as though she were hypnotizing a couple of stormtroopers into thinking Artoo and Threepio aren’t the droids they’re looking for.
Believe it or not, the above clip isn’t the worst Marie Harf performance on the Hillary email scandal of the week. The previous day, she got busted for straight-up lying about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s email practices. Harf didn’t handle it well at all. It’s surprising she didn’t throw her notes at the assembled reporters and run for the door, instead of merely dropping them on the floor.
Judging from these clips, and other obfuscation attempts by Hillary defenders, the strategy here is to break the public’s mental lock on the scandal by trying to shake at least one critical fact loose and bury it. They need people to forget, just for a moment, that no one else at Hillary’s level has ever done anything remotely comparable to what she did, or that she used her secret email server exclusively, or that she’s still hiding a huge volume of correspondence, or that her abuse of private servers allowed vital information to be concealed from numerous lawsuits and congressional inquiries… if they can get you to forget just one of those details for a day or two, they can break this deadly news cycle and begin spinning the scandal away.
So far, they haven’t managed it, and it’s driving them to distraction.