Clinton Support Eroding As Sanders And O’Malley Fight Back

OMalley Sanders Clinton

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Donald Trump dominating the Republicans and Clinton’s support eroding among Democrats. Clinton still has the lead, but it is down from 55 percent on June 30 to 45 percent at present. More disturbing for Democrats, this poll shows what other polls have shown–Americans know better than to trust Hillary Clinton. Mediaite summarized:

“What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?” Quinnipiac asked. All three of the most popular answers were along the same lines: “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” After those responses, Clinton nets a few positive responses, such as “experience” and “strong.” But then the negative qualifiers begin again, with responses like “crook,” “untruthful,” “criminal,” and “deceitful.”

The same question was asked of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. The top three responses for Trump were “arrogant,” “blowhard,” and “idiot,” while the top responses for Bush were “Bush,” “family,” and “honest.”

The same poll found Clinton with low favorables. A majority of voters, 51%, say that they have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton while only 39% says they have a favorable opinion.

Like other recent polls, this poll also shows Joe Biden doing better against Republicans than Clinton does.

It is no wonder that we are seeing headlines such as Hillary Clinton’s Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders at The New York Times and Inside Democratic Party, growing concerns about Clinton  from McClatchy. While Clinton does well among Democratic voters, she does poorly nationally with independents and those in battle ground states.

While Clinton does hold a strong (but diminishing ) lead in the Democratic race, Sanders is posing a serious threat. Recent polls show him leading in New Hampshire. He is even within four points of Clinton in West Virginia, where she leads 36 percent to 32 percent. Apparently without the race issue, Clinton is not able to win there as easily as eight years ago.

After amazing most observers with how much support he is generating among Democrats, Sanders is preparing for phase 2 of his campaign.

Sanders huddled with advisers at his home here Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level.

He said he will issue a slew of detailed policy proposals, including for a tax system under which corporations and the wealthy would pay significantly more for initiatives that would benefit the poor and middle class, and will pour resources into voter outreach in early nominating states.

The senator also will appear with other White House hopefuls this week at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee and will urge party leaders to embrace him as a candidate who can attract new voters and energy, just as President Obama did eight years ago.

“Smart members of the establishment will perceive where the excitement is, where the energy is, where the enthusiasm is, where the potential voter turnout is,” Sanders said in an interview…

Roughly one-fifth of the delegates who will pick the nominee at the Democratic convention are superdelegates — elected officials and other party leaders who are not bound by voting in their states. So far, those superdelegates have sided overwhelmingly with Clinton.

Longtime Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who was among the participants in Wednesday’s meeting here, said Sanders has the potential to assemble “not necessarily the same coalition, but the same kind of coalition” as Obama did in 2008. Sanders’s huge campaign rallies have been heavily attended by younger voters, and during his long political career in Vermont, he has demonstrated an appeal to lower-income voters from both parties…

Campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator will continue to hold rallies but “phase two will be a more focused effort to reach out to undecided voters” in early nominating states. The campaign is spending heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — all of which have contests in February — and starting to evaluate strategies for a dozen states that have primaries or caucuses on March 1.

To date, Sanders has deployed 41 staffers to Iowa, 23 to New Hampshire and nine to South Carolina, aides said.

Another focus of “phase two,” according to Sanders and his aides, will be a series of detailed position papers and policy speeches that go well beyond his hour-long stump speech.

Sanders said he plans a major address on Wall Street reforms and to add more specifics to many of his ideas, including revamping the tax system. He has pledged to reverse the growing income inequality in the country and has laid out a set of costly priorities — including free tuition at public colleges and universities, a massive infrastructure program and a large youth jobs program — much of which would be paid for by taxing businesses and the wealthy.

“It’s easy to say we’re going to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share,” Sanders said. “What does that mean, exactly?”

He plans, too, to speak out more about foreign policy, a subject that gets relatively little attention in his stump speech.

Aides acknowledge that Sanders could open himself up to criticism by detailing plans that are considered outside the political mainstream. But the candidate said he owes it to voters to lay out what he would do as president: “These are terribly serious times, and the American people deserve to be treated as intelligent people.”

As I have said before, Sanders is the future of the Democratic Party.

Martin O’Malley is also going on the offensive, criticizing the DNC for its preferential treatment of Hillary Clinton, despite her scandals, and limiting the campaign to only six debates:

Martin O’Malley took one of the hardest swings of any Democrat yet at Hillary Clinton on Thursday, saying the party shouldn’t be “circling the wagons” around the former secretary of state and questioning her viability against Republicans.

The former Maryland governor — struggling to climb out of low single digits in national Democratic primary polls — said Clinton will continue to be dogged by her use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.

“Until we start having debates, our party’s going to be defined and branded by questions like: What did Secretary Clinton know, when did she know it, and when will the FBI conclude its investigation?” O’Malley told reporters in New Hampshire. “That’s not a formula for success in the fall.”

O’Malley went further than other Democratic presidential candidates have. Clinton’s top-polling challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has avoided direct intra-party attacks and instead trained his fire on Wall Street and Republicans.

He also criticized the Democratic National Committee for scheduling only six debates, saying those nationally-televised events are opportunities for the party to focus on big ideas, rather than Clinton’s email drama.

“I think it’s a big mistake for us as a party to circle the wagons around the inevitable frontrunner,” O’Malley said Thursday…

O’Malley had also criticized Clinton in an interview with the New Hampshire radio station WGIR earlier Thursday.

He called the email probe “very serious” and said that there are “legitimate questions” about whether she handled classified material on a non-government server.

“These are serious and legitimate questions and Hillary Clinton and her lawyers will have to answer them,” he said.

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Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

Public Policy Polling Sanders New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in a second poll in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling reports:

There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.

The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she’s at a 63/25 spread.

The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/32), ‘very liberal’ ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.

New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We’re still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it’s clear there’s a real race now in the Granite State.

It is notable that Sanders’ support comes from somewhat liberal, very liberal, and moderate voters responding to this poll. As other evidence has shown, Sanders’ support is broad based, and not a left-wing phenomenon. Sanders’ views are far more mainstream than many Clinton supporters would like to acknowledge. This, along with the generational divide, is also consistent with what I have argued previously that Sanders represents the future for the Democratic Party.

Sanders also had a clear lead over Clinton in a Boston Herald poll earlier in the month after previously moving into a statistical tie in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll early in August.

Winning in New Hampshire, especially if Sanders also does well in Iowa, should give him a boost in polls in subsequent states, but it will still be a tough challenge to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After George McGovern won the nomination in 1972, party rules were written to favor the “establishment” candidate over an “insurgent” candidate. It would be necessary for Sanders to win well over half the delegates awarded in primary and caucus states due to Clinton’s current support from the super-delegates. Barack Obama did show that Clinton could be beat, but his campaign was boosted by support from party insiders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

The scandals surrounding Clinton could alter this usual dynamic. It is also hoped that the debates will further help Sanders in the national polls against Clinton, but the DNC is protecting Clinton by prohibiting candidates from participating in any debates other than the six sanctioned by the party. In the 2007/8 debates Obama did soundly defeat Clinton on the issues, in my opinion, but there are also many conservative Democratic voters who might accept Clinton’s views.

The highly discussed prospect of Joe Biden entering the race could change the calculations considerably. This could lead to an additional voice criticizing Clinton from the left (even if as not as far left as Sanders) and, more importantly, would lead to a split in the establishment vote and super-delegates, improving the chances for Sanders to win.

In another poll, of questionable reliability considering the conservative source, Rasmussen reports that a plurality of Americans (46 percent to 44 percent) believe Clinton should suspend her campaign due to the email scandal. This includes 24 percent of Democratic voters who believe Clinton should suspend her campaign. Once again, this is Rasmussen, so I will only consider these results as meaningful if repeated by a more reliable pollster.

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USA Today Editorial Board Condemns Clinton As Joe Biden Meets With Elizabeth Warren

Biden Warren meeting

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is not going to go away, even if Clinton tries to make jokes about it. As an example of the response her actions have received from the media, last weekend the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled, Clinton email controversy is no joke: Our view. The subtitle: Presidential candidate can laugh all she wants, but FBI investigations can’t be dismissed.

 Now that top secret information, intelligence agency inspectors general, the FBI and federal judges are involved, the matter is far from amusing.

Clinton, though, seems to think she can dismiss the controversy by making light of it. Earlier this month in Iowa, the presidential candidate joked to a crowd of Democratic Party faithful about sending future communications over the app Snapchat, which famously makes text and photos disappear soon after they are viewed. At a testy press availability on Tuesday, Clinton went for the laugh line again after being asked whether her email server had been wiped clean. “Like with a cloth?” she replied, adding that nobody talks to her about the email controversy except reporters.

Maybe she doesn’t get asked about it at tightly controlled town meetings, but the episode raises serious questions about the Democratic front-runner’s decision-making and commitment to openness in government.  One of the many reasons that it was a bad idea to mix personal and business messages is well known to anyone with an email account: As hard as you might try, you can’t control what comes into your inbox. And if you’re the secretary of State, that’s inevitably going to include some sensitive information.

Last week, a Justice Department national security investigation kicked into higher gear after intelligence agency officials determined that top secret information had indeed passed through the private email account. The FBI has taken control of the server and thumb drives storing backup data. The number of potentially classified emails involved jumped from a handful to more than 300, according to a State Department count filed in federal court. A federal judge overseeing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit said, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee” — Clinton — “had followed government policy.”

…Scandals surrounding Clinton and her husband have a habit of being stoked by both the Clintons’ penchant for secrecy and their political enemies’ overzealousness. Amid all the investigations and lawsuits, a resolution of the email affair will be long in coming. A couple of things, however, are already clear.

One is that Clinton and her team should have turned the server over to the State Department’s inspector general, or perhaps the National Archives, for an independent, confidential sorting of the 62,000 messages. Instead, they took it on themselves to delete about half the messages as personal and scrub the server, raising inevitable suspicions about a coverup.

Another is that, contrary to the Clinton camp’s assertion that the controversy is a lot of “nonsense,” federal computer security is no joke. Regardless of whether Clinton broke any laws, her decisions about the server represented bad judgment bordering on recklessness.

This is hardly the first time that USA Today has been critical of Clinton’s actions and of the falsehoods she has told since the scandal broke.  Last week a Fact-check article showed that pretty much everything Clinton has said in her defense is false, stating “Clinton convicted herself with a multitude of misleading and error-riddled email apologies.”

They are not the only ones to find this. Multiple fact-check articles have exposed false statements made by Clinton regarding the scandal, including Factcheck.org which found multiple untrue statements in Clinton’s CNN interview. The Washington Post Fact Checker has awarded Clinton Three Pinoccios on more than one occasion, including for Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on e-mails] was permitted’. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable.

While the email has received most of the coverage since the Justice Department took possession of the server and classified documents were found, the Clinton Foundation scandals are closely related. In May, the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled Only the Clintons seem blind to foundation’s conflicts: Our view.

These scandals call into question whether Democrats can take the risk of nominating Hillary Clinton, and hopefully some are also questioning the ethics of allowing her to be their candidate.  Talk of Joe Biden running has replaced most of the non-Trump campaign news. Bidens meeting with Elizabeth Warren over the weekend further fueled all sorts of speculation, as did the  The Wall Street Journal headline:  Joe Biden Is Leaning Toward a 2016 Run.

The Washington Post directly ties this to Clinton’s scandals:

His consideration of another campaign comes as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has fielded mounting questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The news that the FBI is investigating whether the system put any classified information at risk has rattled some top party financiers, particularly donors who were major players in Obama’s fundraising network who have little personal history with the Clintons. In the last few weeks, e-mails and calls have been flying back and forth between top bundlers as they try to assess how serious Biden is and whether Clinton is on shaky ground.

“The network is starting to reach out,” said one major Obama fundraiser, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. “I’m getting calls from people saying, ‘We’re waiting for him to announce.’ People are nervous and weary of the Hillary side show, of the emails.”

Update: Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

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Federal Judge Says Clinton Failed To follow Government Policy In Using Private Server

Clinton Email

On top of the problems discussed yesterday regarding Clinton’s use of the private server, she has yet another embarrassment. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal court by Bill Clinton) once again appeared fed up by the delays in releasing Hillary Clinton’s email in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. At one point in the proceedings, Sullivan said, referring to Clinton, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy.” Politco also reports:

Sullivan’s said Clinton’s actions had complicated the State Department’s ability to respond to requests for records on various topics. He also ordered the State Department to contact the FBI to determine whether the private server Clinton used, which Clinton turned over to that law enforcement agency earlier this month, contains official records possibly responsive to the FOIA suit…

During Thursday’s hearing in the State Department case, Sullivan never said precisely how he believed Hillary Clinton violated government policy. But he repeatedly referred to the department’s obligation to preserve records under the Federal Records Act of 1950.

At one point, the judge said he wanted State to ask Clinton whether any third parties — such as technology companies — might have copies of official records from her tenure. However, the written order Sullivan issued after the hearing made no mention of that.

Fact checkers have previously pointed out on several occasions that Clinton’s claims that her actions did not violate government policy are false. Several government officials have also debunked Clinton’s claims, such as Dan Metcalfe, former director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, who called Clinton’s defense “laughable.”

These statements from Judge Sullivan came in a Freedom of Information Act suit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch, seeking information regarding the employment of Huma Abedin. Hillary Clinton is not directly a party to the suit which involves her email while Secretary of State.

The Hill adds that Sullivan Sullivan asked for a written status report about the FBI’s progress on September 1 and that the next hearing in this case will be on October 1.

Update: Reuters reports Dozens of Clinton emails were classified from the start, U.S. rules suggest

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Sanders And Trump Both Gain On Hillary As Clinton Tries To Lie Her Way Out Of A Worsening Scandal

Sanders Clinton

Those who either thought that Hillary Clinton could easily beat him, or that there was no chance of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination, received some information to counter such beliefs in the latest CNN poll. Despite all the reports that Trump’s campaign would go on the decline, such as after his attacks on John McCain’s military service or after the Republican debate, Trump continues to lead the GOP field. Even worse, he is now only six points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN poll. While I am not predicting that Trump will win either the nomination or general election, neither of these possibilities looks impossible anymore.

Bernie Sanders is also closing the gap with Hillary Clinton in the same poll:

Hillary Clinton’s advantage against Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters continues to evaporate, according to the latest CNN/ORC national poll released Wednesday morning. And in a general election matchup with Donald Trump, who has led GOP polling for the last month, Clinton leads by just six points.

Among 358 registered voters who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic, 47 percent said they would vote for Clinton in a primary, while Sanders picked up 29 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not made his intentions known about a run, grabbed 14 percent. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb earned 1 percent.

In the same poll last month, Clinton picked up 56 percent to Sanders’ 19 percent, another indication that the “drip, drip, drip” of the email scandal is taking a toll on her presidential campaign.

Sanders is generating considerable enthusiasm and support independent of Clinton’s failings, but Clinton is certainly helping in the crumbling of her campaign. There are recent headlines such as Clinton pulls plug on testy presser over server questionsHillary Clinton gets testy when pressed on email, Allies fault Hillary Clinton’s response on emails and Some Hillary Clinton supporters in South Carolina are starting to get nervous.

Hardly the type of headline Democrats should want to see throughout the campaign, and  First Read warns that this will continue:

For Hillary, that email story isn’t going away

After watching Hillary Clinton’s testy news conference yesterday over her emails and server, here is this stark reality for the Clinton campaign: This issue isn’t going away — at least for a couple of more months (when Clinton testifies before the Benghazi committee in October). And there’s just no other way to look at this story but to conclude she has done it to herself. She tried to conflate the private server issue a bit, claiming that we’d have the same questions for her regarding classified information if her emails were on a state.gov server or her own. But that ignores a few facts, including: the existence of the private server only came to light via congressional investigation and the fact that she doesn’t yet have a good explanation of why she decided to have a private server in the first place. Convenience is a tough one for the public to buy, given that the private server conveniently made FOIA requests and Congressional oversight of her email nearly impossible.

One reason this will not go away is that reputable fact checkers have demonstrated that virtually everything Clinton has said in her public statements about the email scandals have been false. This includes the false claim she repeated this week her use of the private server was permitted under the rules in effect in 2009. USA Today further debunked the more recent claims from Clinton:

Hillary Clinton gave an odd — and factually inaccurate — account of how the controversy over her email habits as secretary of State mushroomed into a public spectacle.

Clinton chalked it up to her pride in her work at the State Department and her desire for government transparency. “[I]f I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena,” she said during an Aug. 17 radio interview in Iowa.

That’s pure spin…

See the full article, as well as to those linked to above, for the full details. There have been far too many lies from Clinton to address them again here, but we can be certain we will be hearing about them constantly during the general election campaign should the Democratic Party be so foolish as to give Clinton the nomination.

Update: Federal Judge Says Clinton Failed To follow Government Policy In Using Private Server

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Occupy Calls Clinton and Most Candidates Unfit To Lead; Sanders Receives Favorable Coverage

Sanders Clinton

The rise of Bernie Sanders has sometimes called a progression from the Occupy Wall Street movement which drew attention to the dangers of income inequality. Occupy.com recently looked at presidential candidates they consider Unfit To Lead. Their arguments against Hillary Clinton:

As the junior U.S. Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton voted for not only the USA PATRIOT Act that codified some of the U.S. government’s most intrusive and unconstitutional surveillance programs, but for the Iraq War resolution that led our nation into the bloodiest boondoggle of the 21st century. As a result of Clinton’s vote and the resulting destabilization of Iraq, thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died – and Iraq is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world, overrun by Daesh (ISIS) terrorists who have destroyed cultural icons, forced children to become soldiers, raped thousands of women, and committed genocide upon the Yazidi population. Even after the Iraq vote, Clinton still hadn’t backed down from her hawkishness. In 2008, Clinton was quoted saying, “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran… we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

As President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton created a culture of corruption within the agency, allowing corporations who donated to her family foundation to benefit from State Department contracts and projects. Clinton propagated fracking in a number of Eastern European countries, allowing Clinton Foundation donors ExxonMobil and Chevron to have a foothold into new markets. Meanwhile, a recent report by David Sirota exposed how Clinton’s State Department approved $165 billion in arms sales to 20 countries whose governments donated millions of dollars to her foundation. Many of those countries, like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have reputations of trampling on human rights.

Hillary Clinton has remained ambiguous about how she would handle a future financial crisis as president. While Bernie Sanders has made his positions clear on breaking up the big banks, jailing the bankers responsible for reckless behavior that crashed the economy, and implementing a financial transactions tax to fund jobs creation, Clinton has only chastised Wall Street for “risky behavior” in public. In private, Clinton gave two closed-door speeches to Goldman Sachs, each paying $200,000. So far, the Clinton campaign has raked in at least $46 million from Wall Street, and there’s still a year and a half to go.

Ed Schultz also has pointed out how Clinton has avoided answering questions in contrast to Sanders:

When you ask Bernie Sanders about [the Keystone pipeline], you get an answer. When you ask Bernie Sanders a question about the Trans Pacific Partnership… you get an answer. When you ask Bernie Sanders what he would do to the big banks on Wall Street, you get an answer. When you ask Bernie Sanders about, ‘Do you think that the oil companies should pay their fair share – and continue to get billions in dollars of subsidies from the United States Treasury?’ you get a direct answer.

While economic policy has dominated the campaign, as would be expected with the state of the economy, I am glad Occupy did also discuss some of the non-economic reasons to oppose Clinton, including her support for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and the environment.

The same post is critical of Martin O’Malley for his “zero-tolerance” policies. Bernie Sanders has frequently received favorable coverage from them. Six of the Republican candidates are also discussed, and it seems a safe bet that similar objections apply to the rest. I wonder if the article left out Donald Trump due to not taking his campaign seriously, but that could be a mistake considering how his views resonate with the base, as opposed to Jeb Bush, who the Republicans show no excitement for.

An updated version of this has been posted at The Moderate Voice

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Clinton Had A Good Joke, But Her Violations Of Government Policy Are No Laughing Matter

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

At least someone on Hillary Clinton’s writing staff has a sense of humor, and extra points to Clinton if she thought up this joke by herself:

“You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”

The joke is funny, but the email scandal is no laughing matter. Back when George W. Bush was in office, we condemned his administration for actions such as this. Politicians and government officials should be held to the same standards, regardless of party. Hillary Clinton even accused those in the Bush administration of “shredding the Constitution.”

Government transparency is an important concept, and the change to email would result in the loss of a tremendous amount of documentation. This is even more important when a Secretary of State has outside conflicts of interest as Clinton did. Members of both parties had concerns when Hillary Clinton was made Secretary of State. The Obama administration instituted stricter rules regarding email in 2009, and made an agreement with Clinton to disclose all the donors to the Foundation when Secretary of State. There were two things which Clinton was supposed to do, and she ignored both. She then proceeded to unethically make decisions regarding parties which had made substantial contributions to the Foundation. In addition, Bill Clinton received extraordinarily high speaking fees from such parties.

This is especially foolish considering that she knew how much scrutiny she would be under, and presumably thought she might run for president again one day. If you are not doing something dishonest, it only makes sense to follow the rules and keep your nose clean in such a situation. Apparently she thought the money was worth the risk.

The New York Times also has more information available on the email classified as top secret which were found on Clinton’s private server, directly contradicting her previous statements on this topic:

This week, the inspector general of the nation’s intelligence agencies, I. Charles McCullough III, informed members of Congress that Mrs. Clinton had “top secret” information, the highest classification of government intelligence, in her account.

Some of that information, according to a memorandum the inspector general sent to the heads of the Senate and House intelligence and judiciary committees, may have come from a program called Talent Keyhole, which relies on satellite intercepts of conversations or imagery data. The program involves some of the most secure information in the intelligence agencies’ computer systems.

Specifically, the inspector general told members of Congress that two emails should have been classified as top secret, with one of them designated “TOP SECRET//SI//TK/NOFORN.” Officials familiar with the nomenclature said that “SI” stood for “special intelligence,” usually indicating an intercepted communication, and that “TK” was routinely used as an abbreviation for Talent Keyhole, showing that the communication or an image was obtained from a satellite…

The investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails has its roots in her decision to use only a private email account for her official business when she was secretary of state, an unorthodox decision that gave her some control over what was made public. She faced criticism when her use of the account became known this year, and after deleting what she said were more than 31,000 personal emails, she turned over more than 30,000 work-related emails for the State Department to make public.

We already know that some of the over 31,000 emails which she deleted turned out to relate to Libya and terrorism, and some of the email which was turned over appeared to be altered, contradicting her claims of the email being personal.

The classified email found so far in this sample of only forty emails were in email received by Clinton and not sent by her. This does not really alter the underlying issue of Clinton’s violation of government policy leading to classified email inappropriately being on her home server. As I have previously discussed, the Obama administration has been  hard on any violations of policy regarding classified information. Clinton was responsible for the information being on a private as opposed to secure government servers due to her failure to follow government policy, regardless of whether she had any intent for this to occur.

If Hillary Clinton were to be treated consistently as others have been treated who mishandled classified information (which I suspect will not be the case), she would be indicted. On the other hand, despite many conservative bloggers who dream of her going to prison, those indicted in situations comparable to her have been able to negotiate plea bargains which led to probation, fines, and loss of security clearance. It would create an awkward situation should Clinton be stripped of her security clearance and then be nominated by a major party as a candidate for president.

Update: The Washington Post reports on why the Clinton camp is getting nervous about this story:

The FBI’s interest in Clinton’s e-mail system arose after the intelligence community’s inspector general referred the issue to the Justice Department on July 6. Intelligence officials have expressed concern that some sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and that Clinton’s unusual e-mail system could have “compromised” secrets.

That investigation, still preliminary, is focusing on how to contain any damage from classified information that might have been put at risk. Officials have said that Clinton is not a target. But, according to legal experts, this type of security review can turn into a criminal investigation if there is evidence that someone intentionally mishandled government secrets…

The issues around Clinton’s e-mails have also intensified as it has become clear that a number of her statements defending her actions now appear to be false.

As she did that Sunday in Iowa, Clinton has said multiple times that she never sent or received any e-mails containing information that was classified at the time.

But the intelligence community’s inspector general, reviewing a small sample of Clinton’s private e-mails, has contradicted that claim. While the e-mails may not have been marked that way, they contained classified information. The IG said this week that he had discovered information in two e-mails that intelligence agencies considered to be top secret, the highest category of classification…

The controversy highlights one of the problems with Clinton’s decision to use her own e-mail system during her four years running the State Department.

At many agencies that handle sensitive information, discussions of classified material and sharing of classified documents must take place on specially secure classified computers. The government protections don’t extend to private accounts.

Other Cabinet secretaries have been known to use private accounts, including one of Clinton’s predecessors, Colin Powell.

State Department rules require employees to “use, hold, process, or store classified material in data and word processing systems . . . only under conditions that will prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access,” according to the agency’s Foreign Affairs Manual. A 2009 executive order also specifies that classified information “may not be removed from official premises without proper authorization.”

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Sanders Has Huge Gain Over Clinton In New Hampshire As Email Scandal Gets Far Worse For Clinton

Sanders Takes Lead In New Hampshire

If Hillary Clinton fails to be elected president, there is a strong chance that books about the 2016 campaign will note today as a major day in the crumbling of Clinton’s previously “inevitable” path to victory. Prior to this week Sanders was behind but in a statistical tie with Clinton in New Hampshire. The latest poll shows Sanders with the lead. This represents tremendous momentum when compared with his eight percent support in March. National polls this early have virtually no predictive value in a nomination battle, and an early victory can have tremendous impact on subsequent states and the national polls.

Polls can still change in either direction between now and February, and a victory in New Hampshire certainly is no guarantee of winning the nomination. What makes this election different from previous elections is the scandal surrounding the Clinton campaign, and the email scandal become much worse for her. Top secret emails were found on Clinton’s private server, contradicting her previous denials, and Clinton has agreed to surrender the server, now realizing that it would be subpoenaed if she refused this request from the Justice Department.

From an ethical standpoint, this is not the worst aspect of the email scandal. Ethically she did worse in violating principles of transparency, in destroying evidence, and in receiving financial rewards from parties she provided favorable decisions to as Secretary of State. I do not believe Clinton intended to violate laws regarding classified information, but his appears to have been a consequence of her foolish decision to use a private server, and this is what places her at serious risk of criminal prosecution.

Prior to this latest development, The New York Times reviewed the controversy to date and pointed out the legal ramifications. This was before the report that top secret information was present:

In the case of Mrs. Clinton’s email, the F.B.I. is conducting an investigation of just how the classified material was stored in Denver, as well as on a thumb drive kept by her lawyer, Mr. Kendall, and whether it might somehow have landed in the hands of adversaries. Officials say the bureau at this point has no target in mind and no evidence that a crime was committed.

But the investigation takes place in an administration that has taken an especially hard line on the handling of classified information.

Scott Gration, ambassador to Kenya, resigned after a 2012 inspector general’s report accused him of flouting government rules, including the requirement that he use State Department email. “He has willfully disregarded Department regulations on the use of commercial email for official government business,” the report said.

A New York firefighter and decorated combat veteran who served in the Marines in Afghanistan, Jason Brezler, is currently fighting dismissal from the Marine Corps for sending, via his personal account, an email attachment the government says was classified. His lawyer, Kevin Carroll, says he sent the message in response to an emergency request from a base in Afghanistan.

Mrs. Clinton and her aides have noted that the material the inspectors general call classified was not labeled as such in the emails. But in 2010, Thomas Drake, a former senior National Security Agency official, was indicted under the Espionage Act for keeping an agency email printout at home that was not marked as classified. (Mr. Drake pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.)

J. William Leonard, a former director of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office, said that in Mrs. Clinton’s case, criminal charges like those against Mr. Drake are highly unlikely. But as a former security official, he said, he was dismayed by her exclusive use of private email. The State Department has an obligation to monitor unclassified email for exactly this kind of classified spillage, he said, as well as to protect computer systems and provide emails to Congress or the public when required by law.

“The agency can’t fulfill those legal responsibilities if it doesn’t have control over the server,” Mr. Leonard said.

Besides these cases, there have been two high profile prosecutions regarding improper handling of classified information, David Petraeus and, as I discussed last week,  former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger. If the reports of classified information on Clinton’s private server are true, and if Clinton is treated like the others, she will be indicted. Possibly the “Clinton Rules” will apply here with others receiving the blame, and she will escape such a fate, but this would still seriously harm her in an election campaign. The Republicans might very well also destroy themselves and Clinton could still win, but nominating Clinton now looks like too great a risk for any political party to take. Those who deny the magnitude of this scandal are like those who tried to write off Watergate as a “two bit burglary“.

Chris Cillizza wrote that This e-mail story just keeps getting worse for Hillary Clinton. After pointing out how this is happening he noted:

Then there is the news reported by McClatchy News Service that two of the four classified e-mails discovered on her private server were “top secret” — the highest possible security classification.  Clinton has previously said that she never sent or received any classified material via her e-mail account; “I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” she said last month.

For someone who is already struggling to bridge a trust deficit with the public, the revelations about the classified e-mails on Clinton’s server hurt. If Clinton’s claim that nothing she sent or received was classified at the time are proven wrong, that does her even more damage…

There’s simply no way to see these latest development in the long-running e-mail story as anything but bad news for Clinton. The turning-over of her private server not only takes control of its contents out of her hands but also likely ensures this story will be in the news for far longer than she’d like.

He also speculated that now that the server is out of her hands, it might be possible to recover many of the 31,000 emails which she had deleted from the server. There is already evidence that some of the email involving Libya and terrorism was deleted and altered, contrary to her claim that it was all personal email. The New York Times article quoted above also pointed out:

In June, the State Department said that it had not been able to find in Mrs. Clinton’s emails some 15 messages from Sidney Blumenthal, an old friend and aide, who had independently turned them over to the House Benghazi committee. The messages involved Libya — Mr. Blumenthal was passing along analysis from a former C.I.A. officer — and they appeared to involve policy.

The Clinton campaign has not explained the discrepancy. In sorting through more than 60,000 emails, it is easy to imagine slip-ups. But this small window on the deletion process, carried out privately by Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers and aides, offered little assurance to skeptics that the work email collection was complete.

Ron Fournier reviewed the latest developments in a story entitled The Queen of Paradox and Her Crumbling Stone Wall:

It’s safe to assume two things changed Clinton’s mind: political and legal pressure. First, the public’s trust and approval of the Democratic front-runner has plummeted amid revelations that she established an email system that violated federal policy, thwarted congressional oversight, and skirted the Freedom of Information Act.

Second, facing sharp questions and rebuke of a federal judge, Clinton just this weekend declared “under penalty of perjury” that she has turned over to the government all of the emails that were federal records.

The FBI is investigating the security of her email system, which she unequivocally declared to be ironclad in March. “There is no classified material,” she said.

The untruth revealed, Clinton changed her story in July to claim that no email was specifically marked as classified. Not that it matters. Clinton wants Americans to ignore the fact that 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.

Know this: Government officials have been convicted of mishandling unmarked classified material. And this: The fact is, 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.

This is her fault, all of it.

Including her no-win situation. If the FBI is able to recover deleted email from her server, it’s almost certain that more classified documents will be discovered (given what has already been found in the tiny sample size). That would raise more questions about her judgment.

Furthermore, a thorough autopsy of the deleted email might lead to details about other embarrassing topics, such as Benghazi (a GOP fetish), or the intersection of Clinton Foundation donors and State Department business (“Follow the money,” a Democrat close to Clinton told me in March). Though this is pure speculation, her closest allies worry about what might be found.

If the deleted emails can’t be recovered, Clinton will never be able to clear her name. Only the most blindly loyal and partisan voters will accept her word and ignore the serial deception. Even people like me who have known and respected Clinton for years will walk into the voting booth asking ourselves, “What is she hiding?”

Sure, she might win. Just look at the weak spots in the GOP line. But why win this ugly? Why commit Americans to another four years of a politics and government they can’t trust? Why run a grind-it-out, 20th-century campaign amid the rise of purpose-driven millennials?

Why not be an aspirational, transformational leader—the architect of a presidency that matches her potential.

The polling results out of New Hampshire suggest that Americans might turn to Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, to be that aspirational, transformational leader.

Update: Democrats are said to be in “near panic mode” with new talk about Biden or Gore running.

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Bernie Sanders Is The Future Of The Democratic Party–And Party Leaders Ignore This At Their Own Peril

Bernie Sanders Oregon

Bernie Sanders is creating a tremendous amount of excitement in the Democratic Party, but much of the media is trying to downplay this. Politico showed why it is frequently called Tiger Beat of the Potomac in an article which totally misses the big story of the year.  The authors ask, Can Bernie Sanders Win the Love of a Party He Scorns?  They miss the point that Sanders’ independence from the Democratic establishment is one of his strengths, not a weakness. This year both parties have a candidate who is outside the mainstream but, unlike Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders can win elections and can make an excellent president.

The support for Sanders can be seen in the crowds who come to see him, such as 28,000 in Portland last weekend. He is pulling in the biggest crowds of any candidate, from either party. Many in the media claim he is unelectable, as if his twenty-five years in Congress still leaves him too far outside the system to be taken seriously, Even the Politico article cited above notes that he was successful at passing amendments in a conservative Congress. National Nurses United recognized his track record in endorsing him on Monday.

Sanders is surging in the polls in some states, including the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has pulled into a statistical tie in New Hampshire, and we have seen in past elections that the winner of the early contests receives a major bounce in the national polls. General election polling shows him gaining in strength in the battleground states while support for Clinton is dropping.

While anecdotal findings have little predictive value, I cannot help but be impressed by the support for Sanders on social media. One of his comments on the Republican debate became the most retweeted comment of the night. I am amazed that one of my early posts on Sanders entitled Former Clinton Adviser Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Beat Hillary Clinton has received over 16,000 Facebook “Likes” as of this evening, and the number is continuing to grow. When my wife and I wore a Sanders t-shirt while traveling in New Hampshire and Maine last month numerous people came up to me to say how much they love Bernie. It was if I was a celebrity just by wearing the shirt.

Democrats have had a problem in recent years. Polls show a majority supporting Democratic positions but Democrats have been losing elections, except for the two years Barack Obama was on the ballot. Democrats having been losing badly in Congress and many state governments. Returning to the Politico article, the truth of the matter is that many of us who have voted Democratic also scorn the party, and many other potential voters stay home. While some partisan Democrats might oppose Sanders for being an independent, many Democrats, as well as independents, will be more likely to support Sanders because of his independence.

Democratic leaders base their strategy on getting people to vote against the Republicans, not necessarily for the Democrats. They ran Republican-lite candidates in 2014, and were slaughtered in the midterms as many Democratic voters saw no reason to vote. Now the party leadership is pushing the candidacy of another Republican-lite politician for president, hoping that things will be different in a general election than in a midterm. While certainly preferable to the Republicans, Hillary Clinton’s views are far too close to those of the Republicans for many Democratic voters to accept, no matter how much she now tries to copy ideas which Sanders promoted years ago.

Rather than embracing a candidate who is pulling in such popular support, the Democratic National Committee has been trying to rig the contest to favor Hillary Clinton. While Republicans have started debating, the DNC is limiting Democrats to six debates, starting in October, and forcing candidates to agree not to participate in any debates not sponsored by the party. How undemocratic can the Democratic Party be?

People are supporting Sanders because he is seen as honest, and outside the dirty politics we have experienced. Instead of embracing this opportunity, the Democratic leadership is pushing Hillary Clinton, who is involved in one of the biggest scandals since Watergate, placing not only the presidential ticket but all Democrats running in 2016 at an unnecessary risk of defeat. It makes no sense to push for a candidate who is rightly seen as dishonest by a majority of voters , and frequently shown to be dishonest by fact checkers, when there is a far better, and honest, alternative. Initially Clinton supporters claimed that it was necessary to support Clinton in order to avoid a Republican victory. Will they now back Sanders as the polls increasingly show that he would make the stronger candidate in the general election?

Update: Sanders had a crowd of 27,500 in Los Angeles

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Fox Republican Debate Dominated By The Donald

Fox Debate August 2015

Fox brought in a record 24 million viewers for the first Republican debate on Thursday night , and nobody doubts it was because of Donald Trump. CNN explained what this number means:

For perspective, the first GOP primary debate four years ago, also on Fox, attracted 3.2 million viewers.

The most-watched primary debate that year, broadcast by ABC, reached 7.6 million.

Thursday’s debate audience more than tripled that one.

The audience easily exceeded pretty much everything that’s been on American television this year, from the finale of “The Walking Dead” to the final episode of David Letterman’s “Late Show.”

The debate was bigger than all of this year’s NBA Finals and MLB World Series games, and most of the year’s NFL match-ups.

It also trumped Jon Stewart’s Thursday night’s sign-off from “The Daily Show,” which averaged 3.5 million viewers.

Trump is a known ratings magnet. His reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice” used to reach 20 million viewers a week. But it has slipped over the years, averaging 6 to 8 million viewers for recent seasons.

The debate, as well as most of the talk afterwards, was about Donald Trump. They might as well have named it Presidential Apprentice. By the end, many viewers might have been expecting to go to the boardroom to see who Trump would fire. Hint–it might not have been one of the candidates considering what he has been saying about Megyn Kelley and the other Fox correspondents. Among the most crude:

Trump was the center of attention from the start when the very first question was a show of hands  as to “who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.” Only Donald Trump raised his hand. (Full transcript of the debate can be found here).

Donald Trump did make a great case for campaign finance reform:

I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give.

And do you know what?

When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.

QUESTION: So what did you get?

TRUMP: And that’s a broken system.

QUESTION: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding.

You know why?

She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.

Trump also restated his opposition to the Iraq war but flip-flopped on his previous support for a single payer system. Trump could have been the best candidate in the room if he hadn’t turned into a Tea Party clown.

There were some other moments when Republican candidates deserved credit. This includes Rand Paul criticizing both his fellow Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton for their policies which on sending more arms to middle east:

I’ve been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS. ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It’s a disgrace. We’ve got to stop — we shouldn’t fund our enemies, for goodness sakes.

This was followed by John Kasich defending taking funds for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare:

First of all, Megyn, you should know that — that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times.

Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what?

To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison. I’d rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life.

Rand Paul made a another good point when he argued with Chris Christie over NSA surveillance:

The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence, and I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights, and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.

Beyond this, we primarily learned from the debates that Republicans hate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, and Planned Parenthood.

I am looking forward to seeing Bernie Sanders debate Hillary Clinton on foreign military intervention and suppression of civil liberties. Clinton’s record on these topics does fit well in the GOP mainstream.

I am hesitant to write about winners because we have learned that the winner of a debate is not based upon the debate itself, but the perception of the candidates after people have listened to the talking heads in the days following the debate. This is further complicated with the Republican Party as most of their voters receive their thoughts from Fox. Criticism from the Fox commentators could make Donald Trump look like a loser, but so far he has managed to survive better than the pundits have predicted, and it is not looking like Fox will be successful against him.

From my perspective, which could be quite different from that of Fox, the winners were John Kasich and Marco Rubio. Kasich barely squeaked into the prime time debate, and the two debates did show that Kasich really did deserve to be there more than Rick Perry, who was excluded, possibly by fudging the results of the polls. Kasich and Jeb Bush looked the most stable in the group. Bush already has his position as top contender after Trump, but now Kasich might replace Scott Walker as the leading challenger to Bush and move into the top tier.

I also downgraded Bush for his discussion of his brother’s policies. It wasn’t faulty intelligence which got us in Iraq as he claimed, but his brother twisting the intelligence to justify the war he wanted to start. Jeb! also seemed oblivious to the fact that ISIS and the other problems now occurring in Iraq are due to his brother destabilizing the region. They all seemed oblivious, when talking about the deficit, to the fact that the deficit is a consequence of George W. Bush both fighting the war on credit and cutting taxes on the wealthy.

The other Republican who looked good, if you ignore his actual views, was Marco Rubio. He could make a good candidate in a television-based campaign. The entry of Trump into the race made it hard for candidates like Rubio to get attention, but he did get a shot at being noticed Thursday.

On the other hand, it seemed a battle throughout the evening between Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz to be the most bat-shit candidate on stage, which was impressive considering that Donald Trump was on the same stage. I was edging towards awarding this to Huckabee, with lines such as, “The purpose of the military is kill people and break things,” until Cruz gave his closing statement, and clinched the title:

If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama.

The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations.

The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to start (sic) persecuting religious liberty, and then intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

I will keep my word. My father fled Cuba, and I will fight to defend liberty because my family knows what it’s like to lose it.

In contrast, Huckabee went for the laugh as opposed to Cruz’s tirade:

It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.

A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

So, in conclusion, Trump wins for continuing to totally dominate the discussion, Kasich and Rubio had smaller victories which might improve their position if the race should return to be about the more conventional candidates, and Cruz edged Huckabee for the scariest Republican in the room. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders must really have felt happy seeing this debate and the caliber of candidate they might come up against in the general election.

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