How People Magazine Unwittingly Revealed Hillary’s Private Meeting With Obama

The former secretary of State and the president shared a lunch Thursday that was supposed to be private.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 29: In this handout provided by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Alex Seitz Wald
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Alex Seitz-Wald
May 29, 2014, 1:23 p.m.

If you snag an in­ter­view with the hot­test polit­ic­al star on the plan­et, es­pe­cially one who gen­er­ally shuns the press, it’s nat­ur­al that you’d want to brag about it. But it’s maybe not a good idea to blow the lid off an oth­er­wise private meet­ing with the pres­id­ent of the United States. 

Yet that’s ex­actly what happened Thursday af­ter­noon when People magazine tweeted, from its of­fi­cial ac­count, a photo of re­port­er Sandra West­fall pos­ing with the former first lady “be­fore her mtg at the WH.” “Hope we didn’t make her late for @barackobama!,” the tweet con­tin­ued. Three minutes the later, the missive was un­ce­re­mo­ni­ously de­leted. (Screen­grab here.)

Asked about the tweet, a seni­or White House of­fi­cial told re­port­ers, “The pres­id­ent en­joyed an in­form­al, private lunch with Sec­ret­ary Clin­ton at the White House this af­ter­noon.” At least it was private.

A spokes­per­son for Clin­ton, when asked about the photo People “ac­ci­dent­ally” tweeted, re­spon­ded: “Ac­ci­dent­ally? Did they drop an iPad or something? Go­ing to de­fer to our col­leagues at the WH on ques­tions about the pres­id­ent’s sched­ule.”

One can only spec­u­late about what the two dis­cussed, as we prob­ably won’t get any kind of a readout of the meet­ing. The two reg­u­larly had lunch when Clin­ton served as sec­ret­ary of State.

Obama this week presen­ted his for­eign policy vis­ion dur­ing a speech at West Point, which em­phas­ized a cau­tious ap­proach to for­eign mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion. Clin­ton was typ­ic­ally one of the more hawk­ish mem­bers of Obama’s Cab­in­et. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is also plan­ning to roll out Monday new car­bon reg­u­la­tions, a key piece of his pres­id­en­tial leg­acy. 

White House pool re­port­er Steve Den­nis of CQ RollCall said he lodged a com­plaint about the lack of trans­par­ency sur­round­ing the meet­ing, as the lunch was not on the pres­id­ent’s pub­lic sched­ule.

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