The Washington Post Looks At Hillary Clinton’s History On Same-Sex Marriage

Hillary Clinton Gay Marriage 2000

Hillary Clinton is a strange choice to be the Democratic candidate, having spent her career pushing for economic conservatism, neoconservative interventionism, and social conservatism. These are among the reasons that an inexperienced politician such as Barack Obama beat her for the nomination in 2008, and a candidate as unlikely as Bernie Sanders kept it so close this year.

The Clintons have always been to the right of the Democratic Party, and often the nation, on social issues. Hillary Clinton spent her time in the Senate working with The Fellowship, and the influence of the religious right can be seen in many of her views. An article in The Washington Post has reviewed Clinton’s history on one issue where she has lagged behind the country–support for same-sex marriage:

During her first run for president in 2008, Hillary Clinton had an opportunity to become an undisputed leader in the gay rights movement.

As she prepared for a forum on the gay-oriented Logo network, she reached out to her friend Hilary Rosen, a political consultant who is a lesbian. Rosen expressed frustration that so many mainstream political figures opposed legalized same-sex marriage, and she challenged Clinton to speak out for a community that had strongly supported her.

Clinton refused.

“I’m struggling with how we can support this with a religious and family context,’’ Rosen recalled Clinton telling her. Clinton just wanted to know the best way to explain the position…

Clinton’s approach to same-sex marriage illustrates the caution that has come to define her political career. It also reflects a central challenge for the 68-year-old candidate, who along with her husband helped to shape an era of centrist politics designed to appeal to culturally conservative voters but has struggled to adapt to a generation of Democrats who have moved further to the left…

In 2004, the mayor of San Francisco started approving marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Courts in Massachusetts had endorsed marriage rights. President George W. Bush called for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, energizing a conservative base that would help him secure a second term.

Clinton said she opposed amending the Constitution but said in a Senate floor speech that she took “umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage or to the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman.”

Clinton’s perpetual balancing act unnerved some supporters.

Of course we know that Clinton has changed her view, with many suspecting this was primarily out of political expediency before running in the Democratic primaries this year. Regardless of her motivation, Clinton’s underlying social conservatism and religious views are bound to influence how she will govern assuming she goes on to be elected.

Conan O’Brien on Hillary Clinton

Conan Photo

Hillary Clinton received her first classified briefing as the Democratic nominee. Conan O’Brien had this to say: “On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will receive her first official intelligence briefing as a candidate. Officials plan to tell Hillary about threats to U.S. cybersecurity such as Russia, China, and her.”

Related jokes from Conan:

“According to Hillary Clinton’s newly-released medical records, she suffers from seasonal allergies. But she just takes some Benadryl and they’re all deleted.”

“Experts say Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy is to ignore the controversies, and just run out the clock. By the way, that also happens to be Hillary Clinton’s marital strategy.”

Third Party Candidates Unusually Strong In 2016–Should Be Included In Presidential Debates

Stein Johnson

With most voters unhappy with both the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, voters are more open to consider third party candidates. Even if not yet willing to say they will vote for one, many do believe third party candidates deserve a place in the debate. A Quinnipiac University poll shows 62 percent of likely voters say that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson should be included in the debates this year. They weren’t asked about Jill Stein but, as the number of those supporting inclusion in the debates doesn’t correlate with plans to vote for Johnson, and is split among supporters of each major party, I bet a similar number of voters would also support include Stein.

Third party candidates are only included if they reach fifteen percent in the polls, but have difficulty reaching this number without exposure from the debates. While neither third party candidate is close to fifteen percent yet, third party candidates will very likely far better than usual this year. Most years the support for third party candidates has started to fall by now, and dwindles to near nothing by election day. FiveThirtyEight notes that we are not seeing that pattern so far this year:

Johnson is pulling in about 9 percent in the national polls, according to the FiveThirtyEight polls-only average. And his share in national polls has not fallen as we’ve gotten closer to the election. Indeed, Johnson’s support right now is higher than many other viable1I’m including third-party candidates who garnered a significant amount of media attention and were on the ballot in a substantial number of states. third-party candidates’ at a similar point in campaigns since 1948.

Johnson is pulling in at least twice as much of the vote as Henry Wallace or Strom Thurmond was in late August 1948, as Ralph Nader was in 2000 and certainly as Johnson himself was four years ago. Perhaps even more impressive is that Johnson is polling right about where Ross Perot was in 1996, when Perot had a nationally known name after his strong 1992 run. That said, Johnson is nowhere near the success of that 1992 campaign: Perot was pulling in 20 percent as a hypothetical candidate after leaving the 1992 campaign in July but before re-entering the race in October.

And notice: Most third-party candidates didn’t lose that much support between late summer and Election Day. Besides John Anderson in 1980, no candidate ended up finishing more than 3 percentage points below where they were polling in late August. The average drop-off is about 2 percentage points. Anderson, meanwhile, was already fading at this point in the campaign. In Gallup’s polling, for example, his support peaked at 24 percent in early summer and by now had dropped by 10 percentage points…

Why is Johnson’s support proving more durable than past third-party candidates’? The most obvious answer is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are extremely unpopular for major party presidential nominees; if third-party voters eventually settled on a major party nominee in past campaigns for fear of “wasting their vote,” they may be less willing to settle this year. (Of course, Johnson’s support may simply fade later than past third-party candidates.)

There is, however, some bad news for Johnson in his steady numbers: They’re not going up either. He’s showing no signs of reaching 15 percent in national polls, the threshold necessary to get into the debates. Still, if he ends up with 7 percent of the vote — as we’d expect based upon history and the current polls — the Libertarian Party will qualify for federal campaign funding in 2020, and Johnson will claim the highest share of the vote of any non-major party nominee in 20 years.

The final paragraph reveals one reason to support third party candidates even if they have no chance of winning this year–qualifying for federal matching funds in the next election, along with an outside chance of making the debates. Both third party candidates are working to increase their vote totals this year.  Johnson is starting to advertise in the battleground states and Jill Stein is increasing her ballot access, hoping to make the ballot in forty-seven states. The Nation ran a recent op-ed arguing that Stein should be part of a four-way debate.

Reason continues to look for reasons to hope that Gary Johnson will make the debate:

Looking for a glimmer of hope? Here’s one intriguing gap in the numerical record. Of the Commission on Presidential Debates’ determinative Big Five polls, in which Johnson has been averaging 10 percent instead of 9, none of them have produced results in the last three weeks. Beginning any minute now, we should have a much clearer idea whether the Libertarians are rising in the polls that actually matter.

If there has been no data for three weeks, there is the danger that Johnson’s support is following historical trends for third parties and falling, but it could be rising as Reason hopes. We can also hope that Jill Stein’s support is rising but has not yet been measured. With major party candidates as bad as Clinton and Trump, there is the possibility that more voters will reject them in favor of the alternatives.

Fact Checker and Ethicists Critical Of Clinton Regarding Foundation

PolitiFact

With the Clinton Foundation and the email scandal making the news again this week, both the fact checkers and ethicists are once again weighing in. PolitiFact has debunked Clinton surrogate Jennifer Granholm’s defense of the Clinton Foundation. Granholm claimed Clinton complied with the ethics agreements she entered into when she became Secretary of State. PolitiFact disagrees:

New emails released after Granholm made her statement, detailed in an Associated Press investigation, show that Clinton took many meetings with foundation donors as secretary of state and offered assistance to several.

The ethics agreements, plural

Clinton pledged to keep her distance from foundation matters as secretary of state. “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party …,” she said.

The Clinton Foundation signed its own, separate memorandum of understanding with the Obama administration, promising to disclose donors annually and report material donation increases to the State Department among other things.

“The parties also seek to ensure that the activities of the Foundation, however beneficial, do not create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State,” the memorandum of understanding reads.

What’s clear is that both agreements were intended to minimize conflicts of interest.

And in that regard, experts told us Granholm’s comments amount to poorly masked spin that focus on Clinton’s personal involvement while ignoring the involvement of her top aides.

Granholm is right that neither agreement prohibits aides facilitating meetings or taking job recommendations, but that’s only technically accurate because terms of the agreement were pretty specific to begin with, said John Wonderlich, the director of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

“The letter of the memorandum of understanding is not the standard by which they’re being judged,” Wonderlich said. “By trying to use that as a defense, that just highlights the deficiencies of the memorandum of understanding.”

Granholm offered a lawyerly response that reflects “a certain tone-deafness on the part of the Clintons, their staff and surrogates,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor who specializes in government ethics at Washington University in St. Louis. “It keeps you out of jail but it doesn’t really address the underlying concern.”

That concern is that donors and those with ties to the Clinton Foundation could use their connections to curry favor with the U.S. government, “not just whether Clinton is technically violating an ethics statute” narrowly tailored for legal purposes.

So while the emails contain no smoking guns that point to pay-to-play, Wonderlich said, they contribute to “a sense of commingling the personal and the official.”

Clark held up the Clinton campaign’s argument that Band sent the emails as Bill Clinton’s aide as an example of a flimsy response.

“That’s nice, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a foundation connection,” she said. “The foundation’s work is no doubt laudable, but it’s not at all clear how they are addressing a reasonable perception that giving money to the foundation may help one accomplish goals related to the U.S. government.”

Craig Holman of the government accountability think tank Public Citizen said the new emails at least show “an effort was made to secure official favors” for donors.

“The Clinton Foundation itself did not live up to the expectations of the ethics agreement,” he said.

Violations elsewhere

Outside of the emails, the Clinton Foundation has actually violated its memorandum of understanding with the State Department.

As previously mentioned, the foundation agreed to disclose donors every year while its various initiatives would do the same and report material increases from existing donors to the state department.

But in 2015, numerous media outlets reported several instances of the Clinton Foundation breaking its promises. There were three major examples:

• Not reporting to the State Department a $500,000 donation from Algeria in 2010

• Not disclosing over 1,000 donors who passed $2.35 million total through the Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative  through a Canadian foundation (the foundation simply reported the revenue from the Canadian foundation)

• Not updating or notifying the State Department on the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s donor list, which included five new foreign countries and two with material increases in giving, from 2010 to 2013

To be clear, none of these disclosure failures are proof of quid pro quo. But experts told us that the Clinton camp and the public should have higher standards.

“The fact that it’s not a bribe may help keep you out of federal prison, but is that good enough?” Clark said.

Our ruling

Granholm said Clinton “abided by the ethics agreement” between the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration.

That’s a misleading response that ignores what occurred at Clinton’s State Department.

Experts told us emails between Clinton aides and a foundation aide may not have been prohibited by the specific terms of the ethics pledges. But they demonstrate a blurring of the lines between official government business and Clinton’s personal connections — breaking the firewall Clinton agreed to preserve.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Politico discussed the latest revelations, along with the announcement that Chelsea Clinton will remain on the board of the Clinton Foundation. The interviews included Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn:

“Without a doubt, moving forward, having Chelsea at the foundation is really going to create problems for [Clinton],” Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said, noting that ethics rules typically recognize the child of an official as being directly linked to their interests.

Hillary Clinton tried to turn attention back on Donald Trump in a speech today. The New York Times reports:

Hillary Clinton delivered a blistering denunciation Thursday of Donald J. Trump’s personal and political history with race, arguing in her most forceful terms yet that a nationalist conservative fringe had engulfed the Republican Party.

In a 31-minute address, building to a controlled simmer, Mrs. Clinton did everything but call Mr. Trump a racist outright — saying he had promoted “racist lie” after “racist lie,” pushed conspiracy theories with “racist undertones” and heartened racists across the country by submitting to an “emerging racist ideology known as the alt-right.”

“He is taking hate groups mainstream,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters at a community college here, “and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.”

Hillary Clinton gave this speech attacking Donald Trump as being from the “alt-right.” The battle is on, Clinton of the neocon-right versus Trump of the alt-right. May they both lose.

Clinton & Trump Failing At Fooling The Voters While News From NASA Offers Potential Escape Plan

Clinton Trump Clowns

Regardless of what other surprises occur during this campaign, it is safe to  predict that Hillary Clinton will not convince people she is not a crook, and Donald Trump will not convince people he is not xenophobic and racist. Among the worst consequences of Clinton being elected will be to see Democrats become the Republican Party of 2001. After opposing both neocon foreign policy and the “culture of corruption” under Bush, the Democratic Party now owns both with the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

It is rather disappointing to see how many Democratic bloggers who criticized corruption under Bush find ways to rationalize actions they would have never tolerated under Republicans, and attack the media as opposed to those acting unethically. No, just because you think your party represents the good guys, this does not excuse such action. Less partisan sources are more critical of the latest revelations regarding the unethical relationships between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department revealed in the latest batch of emails and the AP’s review of the number of meetings Clinton had as Secretary of State with large donors to the Foundation. For example, USA Today called for the Clinton Foundation to be mothballed:

Ending foreign and corporate contributions is a good step, but allowing them to continue at least through the first week of November looks more like an influence-peddling fire sale (Give while you still can!) than a newfound commitment to clean government.

And the complex plan for allowing donations from U.S. citizens and permanent residents, keeping some parts of the Clinton Foundation alive, and maintaining scores of Clinton-family allies on the payroll is less an opportunity for a clean slate than a guarantee of new controversy.

Yes, the Clinton Foundation supports many good works, notably the fight against HIV/AIDS. No, it is not “the most corrupt enterprise in political history,” as Donald Trump is calling it, nor is there enough evidence of potential criminality to warrant appointment of the special prosecutor Trump is seeking.

But the only way to eliminate the odor surrounding the foundation is to wind it down and put it in mothballs, starting today, and transfer its important charitable work to another large American charity such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Hillary Clinton doesn’t support these steps, she boosts Trump’s farcical presidential campaign and, if she’s elected, opens herself up to the same kind of pay-to-play charges that she was subject to as secretary of State…

When Clinton became secretary in 2009, new ethical quandaries arose that few people imagined at the time. She gave key State Department aides permission to work for the Clinton Foundation while they worked at State and drew paychecks from a Clinton-affiliated for-profit consulting firm. Emails from her private server reveal communications between foundation representatives and her aides about setting up meetings between America’s top diplomats and the Clinton Foundation’s top donors, including Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.

According to an Associated Press analysis of Clinton’s State Department calendars released so far, more than half the people outside of government she met with or spoke with on the phone as secretary of State had made pledges or donations to her family charity. Those 85 people donated as much as $156 million. The tabulation published Tuesday does not include the meetings and phone calls with representatives of 16 foreign governments that contributed as much as $170 million to the foundation.

Should Clinton win, she’ll face an uphill battle to rebuild trust in government and find a way to get Washington working again. That task will be all the harder if millions of voters repulsed by Trump’s rhetoric and concerned with his volatile behavior find that his “Crooked Hillary” taunt had some substance in fact.

While Clinton, enjoying a huge and possibly insurmountable lead, prefers to try to run out the clock and continues to avoid the press as much as possible, Donald Trump is trying to convince voters that he is not racist. Aaron Blake poked holes in Trump’s statement of regret for some of the things he has said and, Jonathan Chait pointed out that the one flaw in Trump’s plan is that he really is a racist:

The main difficulty Trump faces in dispelling the impression that he is a racist is that Trump is, in fact, a gigantic racist. His first appearance in the New York Times came in the context of his being caught refusing to rent apartments to African-Americans. A former Trump employee has detailed a series of private racist statements and acts — saying “laziness is a trait in blacks,” objecting to black people working for him in accounting, his staff shooing black people off the casino floor when he arrived. Trump has replied that the comments were “probably true,” but berated the person who made them as a “loser.” He has questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate, called him a “terrible student,” and implied he only made it into Harvard Law School due to affirmative action…

Trump has spent more than a year identifying himself as the candidate of white-backlash politics, using his appeal to the most racially resentful Republicans to win the nomination. And now he’s running to Clinton’s left on criminal justice! Trump adviser Roger Stone tells the Post, “an entire generation of young black men are incarcerated” because of the 1994 bill. So African-Americans should instead vote for the candidate who literally called for “retribution” and an end to civil liberties. Does Trump’s campaign really think anybody is going to believe this?

One of these dreadful candidates will win, with most voters hating the outcome regardless of how they vote. The one good news in this awful political year is that NASA announced finding a potentially habitable planet as close as Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. This might provide a potential escape route from an earth in which either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is President of the United States.

AP Found That Half Of Clinton’s Non-Government Meetings As Secretary of State Were With Foundation Donors

AP has analyzed Hillary Clinton’s meetings with people outside of the government when she was Secretary of State and found that half of them were donors to the Clinton Foundation:

More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money – either personally or through companies or groups – to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors…

“There’s a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems,” said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits who previously directed Columbia University’s graduate fundraising management program. “The point is, she can’t just walk away from these 6,000 donors.”

Some of Clinton’s most influential visitors donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and to her and her husband’s political coffers. They are among scores of Clinton visitors and phone contacts in her official calendar turned over by the State Department to AP last year and in more-detailed planning schedules that so far have covered about half her four-year tenure. The AP sought Clinton’s calendar and schedules three years ago, but delays led the AP to sue the State Department last year in federal court for those materials and other records.

While it is not certain if this violates the letter of the ethics agreements Clinton entered into before becoming Secretary of State, Clinton is known to have violated the letter of the agreement in other areas, and this certainly violates the spirit. Politico discussed earlier revelations with ethicists:

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said that the actual language of the pledge is “not surprisingly, very lawyerly … [and] there is an argument to be made that Clinton herself has not violated what was in the pledge.”

“Whether she or her aides have violated the spirit of the pledge … yeah, of course they have,” McGehee said. “The notion of continuing contact between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department — that was not supposed to happen.”

With these major ethical lapses, it was not surprising when McClatchy reported that there was no record of Clinton and her top aides undergoing the required ethics training at the State Department.

Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has been found to have violated policy with regards to using a home server rather than a government email system, failing to turn over any email for archiving which was sent over personal email, destroying over half the email and falsely claiming it was personal, and failing to disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation as she agreed prior to her confirmation. She was found to have unethically made rulings on multiple occasions regarding parties which contributed to the Foundation and/or made unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton.

There have been questions regarding improper relationships between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s political actions for quite a long time. On April 24, 2015 the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause called for a full audit of the Foundation:

Citing concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of hidden overseas donors, Common Cause called on presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Clinton Foundation today to commission an independent and thorough review of all large donations to the foundation and to release the results.

“As Mrs. Clinton herself observed earlier this week, voluntary disclosure is not enough,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “A report in Thursday’s New York Times indicates that the Clinton Foundation violated an agreement to identify all of its donors. The foundation’s omissions create significant gaps in the information that voters need to make informed decisions at the polls.”

To ensure that the audit is complete, Rapoport said the foundation should enter into a contractual agreement with auditors to open its books fully and to make public the complete report of their review.

And to further guard against potential conflicts of interest, the foundation should stop accepting donations from foreign governments and foreign corporations, he said.

“There already is too much ‘dark money’ in our elections, in the form of spending by supposedly independent nonprofit groups that are not required to disclose their donors and operate as sort of shadow campaigns,” Rapoport said. “The Clinton Foundation and any other foundations tied to a candidate or his or her family provide one more way for potential donors to gain access and curry favor from candidates – without the public knowing about it. That lack of transparency creates a clear risk of undue influence and conflicts of interest.”

While the Clinton Foundation has garnered headlines this week, Rapoport noted that at least one other apparent presidential hopeful, Republican Jeb Bush, has close ties to a foundation. The former Florida governor created the Foundation for Excellence in Education and last year turned over its leadership to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; it should initiate and make public the same kind of independent review Common Cause is recommending for the Clinton Foundation, Rapoport said.

Though Mrs. Clinton has severed ties with the Clinton Foundation, her husband and daughter remain active in its operations.

“Six years ago, at Mrs. Clinton’s confirmation hearing for her appointment as secretary of state, then-Sen. Dick Lugar observed that ‘that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state.’ He was right, and his remarks remain relevant today as Mrs. Clinton seeks the presidency,” Rapoport said.

The evidence of a need for a full audit of the Clinton Foundation, if not a special prosecutor as Donald Trump has called for, are even greater today.

New Emails Found With Further Suggestion Of Clinton Taking Payments For Influence

Clinton Email

Hillary Clinton continues to be haunted by her email with the finding of an additional 15,000 on top of those which had previously been released. The Washington Post reports:

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned.

Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton’s work-related emails to a conservative legal group. The records are among “tens of thousands” of documents found by the FBI in its probe and turned over to the State Department, Justice Department attorney Lisa Ann Olson said Monday in court.

The 14,900 Clinton documents are nearly 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton’s lawyers deemed work-related and returned to the department in December 2014.

Both the the State Department Inspector General report and the FBI statement on the investigation demonstrated that Clinton violated the rules in effect when she became Secretary of State, and that many of the statements she has made since the scandal broke have been false.

The email provides yet another example of the blurred lines between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State, in violation of the ethics agreement Clinton entered into before she was confirmed. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Emails released Monday provide new examples of a Clinton Foundation official seeking access to the State Department on behalf of donors at a time when Hillary Clinton led the department.

The emails—obtained through a lawsuit by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch—could fuel criticism that the Clinton family’s charitable foundation, in fundraising with wealthy donors, corporations and foreign nations, created a conflict of interest for Mrs. Clinton during her work as the nation’s top diplomat.

In an exchange from June 2009, a Clinton Foundation official and longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton wrote to Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, seeking a meeting between the crown prince of Bahrain and Mrs. Clinton.

Colin Powell has also responded to Hillary Clinton’s attempts to pin the blame on him. The Hill reports:

Colin Powell says Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been trying to use him to help justify her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

The Democratic presidential nominee reportedly told FBI investigators that Powell, also a former secretary of State, recommended she use a private email account.

Clinton allegedly discussed email practices with her predecessor during a dinner after she became the top U.S. diplomat in 2009, The New York Times said Thursday.

On Sunday, Powell told the New York Post’s Page Six that Clinton was using her private email long before their meeting.

“The truth is she was using it for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did [during my term as secretary of State],” he said.

“Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

Update: Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept. (Washington Post)

Update II: AP Found That Half Of Clinton’s Non-Government Meetings As Secretary of State Were With Foundation Donors

Trump Turns To Lunatic Fringe, Looking Like A Loser In A Race Neither Major Party Candidate Deserves To Win

Trump Clinton Celebrity Death Match

Donald Trump might very well be the presidential candidate most detached from reality ever. He went from a lead in some of the polls at the time of the conventions to trailing to the degree that Republicans are now thinking of giving up on the White House and concentrating on preserving their majorities in Congress. (History does show that a candidate distrusted as much as Clinton could lead to many voting for the opposing party to keep her in check). At a time when Trump needed to expand his base of support, he has instead acted to limit it by turning to the far right:

The appointment of Breitbart news chief Stephen Bannon to head Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this week marks the official entree of the so-called “alt-right” into the Republicans’ top campaign…

…critics say that Bannon’s hiring resonates far beyond the Trump campaign in troubling ways. It marks a worrisome marriage of the Republican Party with an Internet culture that, they say, peddles in white identity, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and Clinton conspiracies.

In short, it doubles down on a largely white voting bloc that, in the words of Brendan O’Neill, a commentator for the conservative Spectator magazine in Britain, is “convinced the world is one big lefty, feminist plot to ruin your average white dude’s life.”

“The [Mexican] rapist comments, the banning Muslims comments – the crowd roars for that,” says Marc Hetherington, who has studied voter polarization at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. “Republican voters have said this is what we want, and it’s now the national party. And it’s a problem for [the party establishment] to manage.”

From a purely electoral perspective, the move risks keeping the Trump campaign’s center of gravity too far right for a general election. On Friday, Trump strategist Paul Manafort, installed to help the candidate reach out to a wider audience, resigned from the campaign. While Trump will be even more adored by those who adore him, he could become even more objectionable to all others – and there are not enough of Trump’s core voters to tilt a presidential election, argue many political scientists and pollsters.

“If you trust the polls, this seems like a fundamental strategic error. Trump is running worse than Mitt Romney among almost all demographic groups; white men without a college degree are the most prominent exception,” writes Nate Silver on the FiveThirtyEight data journalism website. “But there aren’t enough of those men to form a majority or really even to come all that close.”

Trump shows no sign of understanding the problem his campaign faces. He polls as low as zero to one percent of the black vote in some polls, but says with a straight face that he can not only win the election, but win 95 percent of the African-American vote when he runs for reelection. His actions lend credibility to those such as Michael Moore who have suggested that Trump never really entered the race with the intent of becoming president.

Clinton is fortunate in her opponent as she probably could not have beaten any other Republican. Even Donald Trump might have been able to win if he ran a sane campaign, running against a candidate as weak as Hillary Clinton. Imagine if he ran as a reformer from outside, against the political system and against the dishonesty and corruption of the Clintons, but kept to the facts rather than getting distracted by right wing nonsense. He could have avoided the far right, differing from the conventional Republican line in having backed universal health care and preserving Social Security in the past. A more consistent opposition to Clinton’s neocon interventionism could have been a welcome alternative if he could have remained coherent on foreign policy. He certainly does have a point about maintaining peace with Russia as opposed to rushing us into a new cold war with Russia as Clinton would, but cannot be taken seriously when he looks like Putin’s patsy. He could have even out-flanked Clinton on the left on issues including his opposition to trade deals such as the TPP and his (inconsistent) opposition to the drug war.

By failing to broaden his base and instead turning to the lunatic fringe of the far right, Trump is rapidly losing any chance he had at winning. There is certainly a lot of time between now and November, and possibly outside forces such as new leaks about Clinton might change things, but so far Trump appears to be doing everything wrong if he has any desire to win.

Clinton Ordered To Provide Written Testimony Regarding Use Of Private Email

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

Hillary Clinton might never get past the email scandal. The New York Times reports that a federal judge has ordered her to provide written testimony:

A federal judge on Friday ordered Hillary Clinton to provide written testimony under oath about why she set up a private computer server to send and receive emails while secretary of state, ensuring that the issue will continue to dog her presidential campaign until the eve of the election.

In a brief ruling issued on Friday afternoon, the judge, Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court in Washington, approved a motion by the conservative advocacy organization Judicial Watch to pursue its vigorous campaign to expose Mrs. Clinton’s use of the private server. In addition to requiring her testimony in writing, the judge allowed the group to depose a senior State Department aide who had warned two subordinates not to question her email practices.

Both the the State Department Inspector General report and the FBI statement on the investigation revealed considerable impropriety on Clinton’s part, even if the FBI did not recommend criminal prosecution.

It was also revealed yesterday that Hillary Clinton had told the FBI that she used private email on the advice of Colin Powell. Powell denied any recollection of the conversation and expressed disapproval of the use of private email for classified information.

In an update to a post from earlier in the week, the sailor who tried to use the Hillary Clinton defense for mishandling classified information was unsuccessful. He has been sentenced to one year in prison. There were many differences in the cases, but the most significant is that he was a lowly Navy sailor and Clinton is in line to be Commander in Chief.

Did Clinton Receive Required Ethics Training At Trump University?

Clinton Money

Considering the major ethical breaches by Hillary Clinton and her top staff members while at the State Department, it is no surprise to hear that Clinton and some of her top aides failed to undergo required ethics training. McClatchy reports:

There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton or her top aides completed ethics training when they started at the State Department as required by federal law.

State Department records show only three of nine top Clinton aides took the mandated training for new employees. Records also suggest that none of seven top aides required to take subsequent annual training completed it.

No records indicate whether Clinton herself took any training.

Many of the aides still work for Clinton on her presidential campaign or are advising her in her bid for the White House against Republican Donald Trump in November.

The documents were obtained by the Republican National Committee, which filed a lawsuit to get them after a Freedom of Information Act request did not produce them.

Clinton’s campaign did not respond to questions about whether she and her aides completed training…

Government watchdog groups say Clinton should have been more concerned about the detailed training, particularly given that she had already run for president before she became secretary of state and is married to a former president who started a foundation with ties around the globe. The failure of the Clinton State Department to keep accurate records indicates that it was not a priority, they say.

“Given the nature of the Clinton Foundation and questions raised about the donors to the foundation one would think it would be a priority at the State Department,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, a government watchdog group which has called on Clinton and the foundation to commission an independent review of large donations.

Just last week, a new batch of emails raised additional questions about ties between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation as they indicated foundation officials tried to secure special treatment at the department for a donor and an associate. The campaign says Clinton did not take any actions as secretary of state because of donations…

The Office of Government Ethics criticized the Clinton State Department in late 2012 for a lack of compliance with annual ethics training that is supposed to outline department standards and principles, conflict of interest laws and financial disclosure forms.

The lack of documentation of undergoing ethics training does not necessarily mean that they received no training. Perhaps Clinton and her aides studied ethics at Trump University.

Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has been found to have violated policy with regards to using a home server rather than a government email system, failing to turn over any email for archiving which was sent over personal email, destroying over half the email and falsely claiming it was personal, and failing to disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation as she agreed prior to her confirmation. She was found to have unethically made rulings on multiple occasions regarding parties which contributed to the Foundation and/or made unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton.