Friday, March 13, 2015

Hillary’s Damage Control Isn’t Working

My article from today's FrontPage magazine:

Hillary’s Damage Control Isn’t Working

By Matthew Vadum

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s efforts to douse the growing furor over her possibly illegal private email system are not going well.

The Obama White House, which claims the president knew nothing about Clinton’s surreptitious email system, unceremoniously threw the former cabinet member under the bus this week.

“Frankly, the secretary’s handling of her own personal email and the maintenance of [her] personal email inbox is something that I’m not going to comment on and not particularly interested in,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

President Obama, who reportedly detests the Clintons, may himself have played a role in revealing Hillary’s email misbehavior. That Obama didn’t know about the secret email system is simply too fantastic to believe. The president may have been holding the email saga back as a trump card, waiting for the best time to crush his former rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Of course, there is a certain poetry to one ruthless, venal Saul Alinsky disciple undermining another.

Many conservatives who watched the press conference at the United Nations on Tuesday in which reporters asked genuinely probing questions challenging Clinton’s version of the facts about her James Bond villain-like email setup are now experiencing schadenfreude. Hillary has gotten away with so much premeditated deception for so many decades that observing her being vigorously cross-examined by journalists is a surreal, cathartic experience for many. It is therapy for the conservative soul.

Her hypocrisy knows no bounds. Remember it was in 2007 that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) accused George W. Bush’s administration of using “secret White House email accounts” and secret wiretaps and military tribunals.

“You know, our Constitution is being shredded,” she said then.

Hillary, as Americans have come to know, is a shameless, prolific, pathological liar, probably even more than her impeached husband. But who would have thought that after so long in the public eye doing damage control, spending so long cleaning up after Bill Clinton’s seemingly unending “bimbo eruptions,” she would be so inept at handling what might otherwise not be a career-ending scandal? It now seems the email imbroglio could very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

At the press event Mrs. Clinton continued to deceive and misdirect.

After admitting it would have been better if she had used government email for official correspondence, she claimed she had “fully complied with every rule” and that she was going “above and beyond” in directing the State Department to release many of her emails.

“No one wants their personal emails made public and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.”

The problem with this statement is that when she was at Foggy Bottom Clinton made it clear that State Department employees were to use official government email. She even had an ambassador pushed out who violated this rule.

Particularly outrageous was her claim that a desire for convenience drove her to use her personal email account for both official business and personal matters.

“I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she said.

In fact, just last month Clinton said she carried two electronic devices around with her.

At a high tech conference in Silicon Valley Clinton was asked if she preferred iPhones or android cellphones. She replied, “iPhone, OK, in full disclosure — and a Blackberry.” The New York Times added that at the same event she also acknowledged using two kinds of iPads. “I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder.”

At the UN she said some of the emails she erased contained “personal communications from my husband and me.” Yet on Sunday a spokesman for the former president said Bill Clinton had “sent two emails in his life.”

Mrs. Clinton’s aides added that more than 100 government employees knew she was using private email.

One of them was President Obama. Josh Earnest acknowledged that Obama and Clinton emailed each other. Obama did not know that Clinton’s emails were not being collected by the government, Earnest said.

Although Clinton has refused to hand over for inspection the private email server she keeps in her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., at the UN she expected to be praised for her supposed efforts at transparency because she released about half of the tens of thousands of emails in question.

She bragged that she took the “unprecedented” step of handing over to the State Department for review about 55,000 printed pages of email. “For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work related. I went above and beyond what I was requested to do.”

This admission in itself raises thorny new issues. How did she decide in recent weeks which records to make available to congressional investigators and for Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests? And didn’t the FoIA law require that her emails be made available at the time they were created?

Clinton made the argument that she complied with applicable rules because she sent emails to “government officials on their State or other dot gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved.” She failed to explain how emails sent to those who didn’t work for the government had been archived.

“Once the American public begins to see the emails, they will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official’s daily communications,” Clinton said, again as if expecting to be applauded.

The chairman of the select congressional committee on the deadly Benghazi fiasco that happened during Clinton’s watch was not impressed by her remarks. “Because Secretary Clinton has created more questions than answers, the Select Committee is left with no choice but to call her to appear at least twice,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy argues that Clinton has broken the law by “hoarding” emails that are the property of the U.S. government.

“This is no longer a mere political issue, much less a partisan issue. It is now a black-and-white law-enforcement issue: Mrs. Clinton is withholding records that belong to the public and there is probable cause to believe she made a prosecutable false statement to the government in claiming to have surrendered all records of official business to the State Department.”

If Clinton fails to “voluntarily surrender her [Internet] server” the Department of Justice should take custody of it, he writes.

Meanwhile, plenty of Democrats have been criticizing Clinton. Some want to make sure she doesn’t go unchallenged during the primary elections that get underway less than a year from now.

Likely presidential candidate Martin O’Malley made sure to take a jab at Clinton. The former Maryland governor said on MSNBC that if he were president he would expect his secretary of state to use government email. “Well sure, it would be important to me.”

Zephyr Teachout, who sought the Democratic nomination last year for governor of New York, said Clinton “shouldn’t have done it. She should come forward and give a press availability on it. Just as a matter of leadership, she should address it directly … This is why we need a primary, to force debate both about policy and leadership style.”

Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian is tired of Clinton’s scandals.

“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary. Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails? If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one.”

Democratic National Committee member Boyd Brown was similarly wary of Clinton’s still unannounced candidacy.

“The closer we get to 2016, the more the electorate pays attention, which we’re now seeing with foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation and in Hillary’s undisclosed emails,” Brown said. “These are problems that raise real leadership and transparency concerns, concerns that can be addressed in caucuses and primaries, but would go ignored in a coronation process.”

Party leaders in his home state feel “shaky” and Clinton, he said. “Folks are remembering why they pushed back in 2008, and a candidate with the right message and retail politics could pick the lock Clinton thinks she has on the party faithful.”

So the pundits in recent years may have been wrong. Hillary Clinton may not be inevitable. There may be no coronation next year. Perhaps she won’t even secure her party’s nod for the White House next year. Her candidacy may implode long before then.

Maybe America has a future after all.

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