Parsing Clinton: Deflection, Deception, and Untruths

Breaking down the campaign’s talking points on her email fiasco.

Former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a 'Women for Cuomo' campaign event on October 23, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, NY. 
National Journal
Ron Fournier
Aug. 13, 2015, 7:57 a.m.

Hav­ing covered Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton since the mid-1980s in Arkan­sas, it’s not hard for me to ima­gine this con­ver­sa­tion tak­ing place at her cam­paign headquar­ters.

Aide No. 1: “Hil­lary’s num­bers are tank­ing. People don’t like her. They don’t trust her. What do we do?”

Aide No. 2: “Spin harder.”

(RE­LATED: Pars­ing Clin­ton: What Is She Hid­ing?)

Aide No. 1: “On it.”

And out spews these talk­ing points from Clin­ton com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or Jen­nifer Palmieri — 650 words of de­cep­tion, de­flec­tion, and un­truths.

“You might hear some news over the next few days about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails. There’s a lot of mis­in­form­a­tion, so bear with us; the truth mat­ters on this.”

Yes, it does. Go on.

“Like oth­er sec­ret­ar­ies of State who served be­fore her, Hil­lary used a per­son­al email ad­dress, and the rules of the State De­part­ment per­mit­ted it.”

Un­like past sec­ret­ar­ies of State, Clin­ton is run­ning for pres­id­ent. When she took of­fice in 2009, the gov­ern­ment was still grap­pling with how to reg­u­late email’s grow­ing dom­in­ance in pub­lic and private com­mu­nic­a­tions.

(RE­LATED: Clin­ton’s Con­spir­acy of Secrecy Worthy of Crim­in­al Probe)

While the State De­part­ment al­lowed the use of home com­puters in 2009, agency rules re­quired that email be se­cured. Just nine months in­to Clin­ton’s term, new reg­u­la­tions re­quired that her emails be cap­tured on de­part­ment serv­ers.

Her emails were not se­cured or cap­tured on de­part­ment serv­ers. Tens of thou­sands were de­leted.

In ad­di­tion to skirt­ing fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions, Clin­ton set a pre­ced­ent that threatens the pub­lic memory. Archiv­ing email on gov­ern­ment serv­ers pre­serves the ac­tions and de­cision-mak­ing of pub­lic of­fi­cials for re­lease un­der the Free­dom of In­form­a­tion Act, for con­gres­sion­al over­sight, and for his­tor­ic­al re­search. Clin­ton’s ac­tions are an as­sault on the prin­ciples of trans­par­ency and ac­count­ab­il­ity.

Why is there no ex­pli­cit pro­hib­i­tion on the ex­clus­ive use of a private serv­er? Be­cause, be­fore Clin­ton, no pub­lic ser­vant had the gall to use one. Her motive is un­known. While she said the goal was to avoid car­ry­ing mul­tiple devices, Clin­ton joked this year that she was “two steps short of a hoarder. So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, and a Black­berry.”

(RE­LATED: The Queen of Para­dox and Her Crum­bling Stone Wall)

(In March, a Clin­ton loy­al­ist and cred­ible source told me the email is­sue was rel­ev­ant be­cause of what it might re­veal about the Clin­ton Found­a­tion, where gobs of cor­por­ate and for­eign money mingle with the Clin­tons’ char­it­able, per­son­al, and polit­ic­al in­terests. “Fol­low the found­a­tion money,” the source said.)

“Last year, as part of a re­view of their re­cords, the State De­part­ment asked the last four former sec­ret­ar­ies of State to provide any work-re­lated emails they had.”

Palmieri makes this sound like a stand­ard re­view. In fact, it was the res­ult of a con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the in­fam­ous Benghazi raid. Had it not been for the in­vest­ig­a­tion, Clin­ton’s rogue email op­er­a­tion likely would have re­mained secret.

“”… more than 30,000 emails. In fact, she handed over too many…”

Whoa, if true. Un­for­tu­nately, she didn’t hand over enough.

More emails were de­leted by Clin­ton than re­turned to gov­ern­ment arches. Un­der polit­ic­al and leg­al pres­sure, she fi­nally gave the FBI her serv­er this week. Her at­tor­ney says it has been wiped clean. How con­veni­ent.

“No in­form­a­tion in her emails was marked clas­si­fied at the time she sent or re­ceived them.”

Not ne­ces­sar­ily a lie. Def­in­itely not the truth.

In March, she pledged un­equi­voc­ally, “There is no clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al.” Only after that was dis­covered to be false did Clin­ton and her team add the “marked clas­si­fied at the time” caveat.

In oth­er words, the in­teg­rity of “There is no clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al” de­pends on the mean­ing of “is.” Clin­ton her­self tried to re­define the truth last week (“Pars­ing Clin­ton: What Is She Hid­ing?”).

What Clin­ton doesn’t want you to know:

— Fed­er­al rules put the onus on gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials like the sec­ret­ary of State to pro­tect clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al, even when it’s not marked as such.

— Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have been con­victed of mis­hand­ling un­marked clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al.

— Any chain of events or ex­cuses that led to the dis­clos­ure of these doc­u­ments be­gins with Clin­ton’s de­cision to go rogue with gov­ern­ment email.

“There is ab­so­lutely no crim­in­al in­quiry in­to Hil­lary’s email or email serv­er.”

The FBI is not call­ing it a crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tion. Clin­ton has not been named a tar­get.

And yet: There is an FBI in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the ex­ist­ence of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments she had stored on ­her serv­er — out­side her de­part­ment’s se­cure sys­tem, in vi­ol­a­tion of her de­part­ment’s 2009 guidelines, and un­der her dir­ec­tion.

When your cam­paign’s cent­ral ar­gu­ment is Our can­did­ate is not a tar­get,” you’re los­ing.

“Hil­lary has re­mained ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to co­oper­at­ing.”

This line would be laugh­able if it wasn’t so pathet­ic. From the start, Clin­ton has been com­mit­ted to de­fy­ing — not co­oper­at­ing.

“The serv­er will re­main private,” she vowed in March. Her at­tor­ney told Con­gress there was “no basis” to sup­port a third-party ex­am­in­a­tion of the serv­er. Be­sides, he said, the serv­er had been scrubbed. “There are no hdr22@clin­tone­mail.com emails from Sec­ret­ary of State Clin­ton’s ten­ure on the serv­er for any re­view, even if such a re­view were ap­pro­pri­ate or leg­ally au­thor­ized,” at­tor­ney Dav­id Kend­all wrote Con­gress.

“This kind of non­sense comes with the ter­rit­ory of run­ning for pres­id­ent.”

No, it doesn’t.

This kind of non­sense come with the ter­rit­ory of a Clin­ton run­ning for pres­id­ent.

The ori­gin­al sin is her de­cision to seize con­trol of pub­lic doc­u­ments. Clin­ton owns every ugly twist and turn, in­clud­ing harsh me­dia cov­er­age and GOP over­reach.

“We’re com­mit­ted to get­ting the real story out there.”

No, you’re not.

What We're Following See More »
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
×