In between inviting Hillary Clinton to talk about how much she disapproves of her Republican rivals for president, Brianna Keilar of CNN managed to slip in a perfunctory question about Clinton’s outrageous violation of law and policy to set up a private email server, where correspondence she didn’t want Congress or the American people to see could be quietly disposed of.
Of course, because this is Hillary Clinton we’re talking about, she couldn’t get through even the softest of softball interviews without lying.
“Well, let’s start from the beginning, everything I did was permitted,” Clinton insisted. “There was no law, no regulation, there was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate.”
Perhaps you’ve heard of little things called the Freedom of Information Act and Federal Records Acts? Apparently Hillary Clinton hasn’t. She’s also evidently suffered a convenient attack of amnesia concerning the Obama Administration’s policies about the proper treatment of official correspondence – which is funny, because she was running the show when one of her employees got in hot water for doing the exact same thing. You’d think Keilar would have brought that up, since her network reported on it, but she apparently wasn’t interested in asking Clinton any follow-up questions or pressing her on incorrect statements.
“Previous secretaries of state have said they did the same thing,” Clinton insisted, suffering another tragic mental lapse and forgetting which decade she lives in. Funny how sometimes Democrats think even the Constitution itself is a “living document” that must evolve spontaneously with the times, but other times they think officials in 2010 should be able to ignore the 2010 edition of the rules and go with something from five or ten years ago, if they find the obsolete rules more convenient.
“People across the government knew I used one device, maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible,” Clinton insisted, hilariously falling back to a ridiculous lie debunked within minutes of the first time she offered it – with everything from photographic evidence, to the unreadable biography she was ridiculously overpaid for (nominally) writing, to sheer common sense. A woman who doesn’t go to the restroom without a royal entourage in tow has no reason to worry about the inconvenience of carrying six extra ounces of electronics.
Also, if Clinton is a doddering old lady who doesn’t really get modern technology, even after spending her adult life in the lap of luxury, why on Earth is she wasting our time by running for President? I think, at a bare minimum, we need someone who understands how modern cell phones work.
Follow-up question: if Hillary is “not the most technically capable person,” then why did she take it upon herself to disregard the explicit instructions, and desperate pleas, of State Department technology officers to set up her own email server? She can’t figure out a Blackberry, but she’s qualified to pronounce the State Department security system inadequate and build a special private network for herself and her top aides?
Further follow-up question: wasn’t Bill Clinton supposed to be a genius technocrat, and his wife one of the smartest women who ever lived? How do you Hillary-worshipers like watching your feminist heroine pretend to be a doddering old woman who confuses easily, in order to escape from a political and legal fiasco?
But then the hardcore deception bomb was dropped, as Hillary wrapped up the brief email digression from the campaign commercial CNN was helping her film by declaring, “I’ve never had a subpoena. There’s nothing… again, let’s take a deep breath here, everything I did was permitted by law and regulation.” She went on to portray the whole email scandal as a phony story “blown up with no basis in law or in fact” by “the Republicans in Congress.”
That came as a surprise to at least one Republican in Congress, Rep. Trey Gowdy of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who did indeed subpoena Clinton’s emails immediately upon learning of her illicit server’s existence.
In fact, it was a big story back in March when Gowdy refused to withdraw that subpoena after Clinton’s silly public spectacle of declaring that she was finally ready to start handing over what she had kept hidden from lawful authority for so very long.
As Gowdy’s office noted, it’s hardly acceptable “transparency” for the furtive Clinton to decide what she feels like handing over, years after she was supposed to provide that correspondence, and delete everything she considers “personal.” Every hardcore criminal in America would love to operate under rules like that.
Also, it should be remembered that the number of emails volunteered by Hillary Clinton is zero. She held on to that data long after she was supposed to turn it over, releasing nothing until the State Department finally came after her. When she finally got around to coughing up the evidence, she had it printed out on thousands of sheets of paper and delivered in boxes, instead of providing the electronic data, which means she arguably still hasn’t complied with either the law or Congress.
Here’s what those “Republicans in Congress” were saying four months ago about the subpoena that Hillary Clinton now claims she can’t remember, in a March 15 story from Politico:
Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, issued subpoenas to the State Department on Wednesday asking for the remaining Clinton emails. The congressman’s spokesman said Thursday that request stands in light of the committee’s lingering questions on the “the integrity of the emails while she controlled them, the scheme to conceal them, or the failure to provide them in logical course.”
“The chairman has said the former secretary is welcome to and should release all of her emails, but legitimate investigations do not consider partial records. And that is the point of the subpoena issued yesterday by the Benghazi Committee,” Ware said.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) compared the withholding of emails to the tactics of President Richard Nixon.
“The last time we saw a high government official seeking to edit their own responses was President Nixon, and at least then he enjoyed the benefit of executive privilege,” said Roskam, a member of the Benghazi panel. “We have said from the beginning that our investigation would follow the facts wherever they lead us — and we intend to keep that promise by reviewing all of the relevant facts and documents in order to issue the definitive report on what happened before, during and after the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.”
The State Department has made roughly 900 pages of emails available to the committee, but the subpoenas cover any emails Clinton sent and any other documents on Libya.
At least Nixon didn’t try slipping out of Watergate by claiming a sudden attack of senile dementia, or claiming he didn’t really understand how those newfangled tape recorders worked. He also didn’t stonewall and keep relevant information hidden until 1977.
We also know for an absolute, indisputable fact that Clinton didn’t hand over all of her subpoenaed emails, because when her henchman Sidney Blumenthal panicked on the eve of his own congressional testimony, he farted out a cloud of messages between himself and Clinton on Benghazi that the State Department had never seen before. Also, Clinton or her staffers surgically edited some of her emails before handing them over, which would most likely land someone who didn’t enjoy Clinton’s royal immunity from peasant law in jail.
After her interview with Clinton was over, Keilar actually pronounced herself disappointed, whining that she “didn’t hear a more open or transparent Hillary Clinton.” The root of the problem with this interview, and probably every upcoming encounter between Clinton and her adoring press, is that many of them expect her to become more “open and transparent” voluntarily.
“Golly, we invited her to be more honest and she didn’t do it, I’m so bummed!” isn’t going to cut it, lapdogs. You have to pin her to the mat and pummel the truth out of her, by mastering the details of her scandals and immediately countering her evasions and lies. For a start, you could try reviewing your own network’s archives and boning up on her scandals before you talk to her.
And when she inevitably dives into a media hole for another time-out to get her poll numbers back up, her refusal to answer questions and conduct interviews with reporters who aren’t either her personal friends, former employees, donors to her foundation, or roped like cattle should become a big story. She’ll only let you ask her serious questions, with tough follow-ups, if she thinks refusing will hurt her image. Your job is to make her believe that, and if you won’t do it, the American people have no need of you.
Update: The House Select Committee on Benghazi decided to respond to Clinton’s interview by making their subpoena from March public. You can view it online here.
There is nothing even slightly ambiguous about the subpoena – some wondered if Clinton would try to spin her false statements by claiming she personally wasn’t subpoenaed, it was the computer, or the State Department, or some other lame rhetorical dodge. But no – the subpoena addresses her directly: “In accordance with the attached schedule instructions and definitions, you, Hillary R. Clinton, are required to produce all records in unredacted form described below…”
“The committee subpoenaed Clinton directly after it became aware of her exclusive use of personal email and a server and that the State Department was not the custodian of Clinton’s official record,” said the House Select Committee in a statement. “The State Department failed to reveal this essential information to the Benghazi Committee or any other investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks until days before a media outlet was going to publish the information, meaning no investigation prior to the Benghazi Committee’s had access to the Secretary of State’s communications as part of its review.”
Chairman Trey Gowdy issued a statement making many of the points I raised above, stressing that Clinton knew exactly what she was doing when she illicitly concealed her correspondence, then swiftly nuked most of it into oblivion as soon as it was discovered:
The committee has issued several subpoenas, but I have not sought to make them public. I would not make this one public now, but after Secretary Clinton falsely claimed the committee did not subpoena her, I have no choice in order to correct the inaccuracy. The committee immediately subpoenaed Clinton personally after learning the full extent of her unusual email arrangement with herself, and would have done so earlier if the State Department or Clinton had been forthcoming that State did not maintain custody of her records and only Secretary Clinton herself had her records when Congress first requested them.
The fact remains, despite when this subpoena was issued, Secretary Clinton had a statutory duty to preserve records from her entire time in office, and she had a legal duty to cooperate with and tell the truth to congressional investigators requesting her records going back to September of 2012. Yet despite direct congressional inquiry, she refused to inform the public of her unusual email arrangement. This information only came to light because of a Select Committee request, not a voluntary decision to turn over records almost two years after leaving office, records which always should have been in State’s custody.
Moreover, the timing of the Secretary’s decision to delete and attempt to permanently destroy emails is curious at best. The Secretary left office in February of 2013. By her own admission she did not delete or destroy emails until the fall of 2014, well after this Committee had been actively engaged in securing her emails from the Department of State. For 20 months, it was not too burdensome or cumbersome for the Secretary to house records on her personal server but mysteriously in the fall of 2014 she decided to delete and attempt to permanently destroy those same records.
Partisanship aside, how can anyone with the slightest concern for government accountability condone Clinton’s behavior? It’s perfectly clear how her correspondence as Secretary of State was supposed to be handled, and why. It’s blindingly obvious why she didn’t follow the procedures.
A quick safety reminder, as a public service to all readers: if you, unlike Hillary Clinton, destroy information covered by a subpoena, you’re going to have a lot more than a mildly uncomfortable moment during an interview with a star-struck reporter to deal with.