During the first hour of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin defended Hillary Clinton with the false claim that she followed the law in choosing which of her emails to disclose to the public. Halperin also argued — again falsely — that people are asking to see her private emails.
The idea that people want to see Ms. Clinton’s private emails is nothing more than a pro-Clinton talking point. A lie that allows her surrogates to attack those requesting full transparency from a potential president as overreaching creeps.
No one is asking to see Clinton’s private emails. No one. Last night on Fox News, Trey Gowdy, the head of the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, was firm on this point.
All those of us interested in government transparency and truth want is what we would have had had Ms. Clinton followed the rules: access to the server that contains these emails. There is absolutely no reason for her not to turn the server over to mutually-trusted third party — a State Department Inspector General, for example — to ensure she did indeed give us everything relevant.
It is also vitally important that we know if she was ever hacked.
WILLIE GEIST: Why did Hillary Clinton and her attorneys have the discretion over what the State Department got to see? Why is she deciding what goes inside the public records? …
JOE SCARBOROUGH: How did get to decide that.
MARK HALPERIN: That’s the law. Every employee does that, that’s the law, she said yesterday.
SCARBOROUGH: But Mark Halperin, It’s not the law.
HALPERIN: It is.
Scarborough: She can’t decide that she’s not going to turn that server over.
HALPERIN: Yes, she can.
SCARBOROUGH: No, she really can’t.
HALPERIN: It’s the discretion of employees as you leave the government to make the determination, as she said yesterday, of what you make part of the public record.
SCARBOROUGH: Mark, if you are seriously buying into this, then you have serious problems. We have something called the Freedom of Information Act.
HALPERIN: That’s different.
SCARBOROUGH: We have something called transparency. What you are suggesting is that it’s legal for someone who is in the State Department or the DOD (Department of Defense) to make the unilateral decision that they are not going to abide by the 2009 standard — that you are not going to back up all emails into [government] servers and that you can just take them home and delete what you want to delete.
HALPERIN: That’s a separate question. She is at best cavalier about the Freedom of Information Act. Now, she didn’t address that yesterday. It was one of the main things she wasn’t asked about. But in terms of the point Willie raised — Who decides which emails need to be part of the public record — as she said, it’s up to the discretion of the employee to decide what needs to be part of the public record.
SCARBOROUGH: Ron Fournier please step in here. This is turning into cartoon.
RON FOURNIER: The argument that Mark is making would be like saying that somebody who robs a bank, once they get to their house, they get to decide how much to return. What we’re overlooking here, what she completely overlooked here, is that she a total right to use a personal account. What she can’t do is have that account stored outside the government servers. Clearly against regulation, she stored all that on a dark server, registered to her house, kept secret from FOIA requests, and kept secret from the White House. And now she gets to say, “Oh I get to decide which of those I will return back to the government.”
Those are our emails. That is in effect our server. Now, no one wants to see her private emails. No one’s asking to see her private emails. No one wants to intrude on her personal life. But what we do have to see for the sake of transparency, for the sake of honesty, for the sake of integrity and trust in government, are all work-related emails.
Look at what she’s decided now: She’s decided on her own what is a personal email. I wonder if she thinks that emails she sent to donors to her family’s personal charity … are personal. So if there’s a little quid pro quo going on, she doesn’t have to turn it over. Those are personal emails. That’s my charity.
HALPERIN: I agree with everything you said except on two points: people do want to see her personal emails. People are asking to see the server. They are not asking to have them released, but they are asking to see them. And she objects to that.
FOURNIER: She should turn over the server. Then Federal archivists would go through it as if she had followed the law and kept it in custody of the government.
HALPERIN: Again, I agree with everything else you said, and her cavalier attitude toward the Freedom of Information Act was wrong, I think. But the phase at which any employee goes through their emails and decides which ones need to be part of the public record — she exercised the same discretion, as she said yesterday, as every employee is allowed to do.
FOURNIER: After she secrets them into her own server. She’s taken them out of our custody and now we’re going to say, “Okay, you get to decide what you’re going to do with them?”
HALPERIN: I agree.
FOURNIER: It’s one thing if she has kept them where they are supposed to be. Once she violated the law she has no right now–
SCARBOROUGH: Ron’s exactly right. She violated a 2009 regulation that was clear — the letter and the spirit of it was clear. If you do not keep your emails in the State Department server, then you have a responsibility to be proactive and back up all of those emails on our server.
HALPERIN: She said she did.
SCARBOROUGH: No, she didn’t!
HALPERIN: She said she did. This needs to be verified.
SCARBOROUGH: I’m not going to let misinformation go out on my show. This is misinformation. If Hillary had backed up all of the emails that she used on that server in the State Department, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. What she’s saying is … I went through went through all of these emails, these are the 55,000 emails that I decided to turn over and I’m not turning over anything else that I don’t want to turn over. If they were all backed up on the State Department server, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.
FOURNIER: It’s very simple. We gotta stop helping the Clintons parse this. Those are government emails. The government is supposed to decide which … emails are private.
ED RENDELL: That is not correct. The manual says that each employee decides which email is personal and which ones to delete.
FOURNIER: You know what the problem with the manual is, sir? The manual applies to emails that have been stored legally and correctly on a government server.
SCARBOROUGH: If you’re doing it illegally on your home server, that doesn’t apply. It applies if the emails are stored according the 2009 regulation in the State Department. ….
HALPERIN: Here’s what she said she did. I’m not saying she did it and I don’t want to be cast here as defending everything she did, what she said she did is — most of the emails were sent to other government employees and therefore were captured. And she said in the Q&A she put out afterwards that any email she sent that wasn’t a work email she forwarded to someone else in the State Department.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: That’s just–
HALPERIN: That’s what she said she did. That’s what she said she did.
On what Media Planet is it anything close to okay for a government official — much less a senior government official who wants to become president — to squirrel away all her government emails on a private server, choose which ones she considers official, mass delete all the others, and say “trust me”?
Wanting access to that server is not an invasion of her privacy anymore than examining her government server would have been an invasion of privacy. Because she violated the rules, because people are demanding the same access they would have had had she not violated the rules, Halperin’s going to start screaming about invading her privacy?
And Fournier’s point is key: How easy would it be for Ms. Clinton delete, as private, all emails to foreign governments seeking a donation to the Clinton Foundation. Don’t forget that the other half of this scandal is the pay-for-play.
Halperin is a national political journalist throwing up spurious arguments against the full transparency of a senior government official who is about to run for president.
Whatever Halperin’s agenda is, it is obviously not the full and complete vetting of a presidential candidate.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC