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.”

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

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.

Bill Clinton Receives Three Pinocchios For His Dishonest Defense Of Hillary

Bill-Clinton-Pinocchio-Nose

Bill Clinton spoke out on the email scandal last week, basically repeating the same lies from the Clinton camp which have repeatedly been debunked by the fact checkers, and by both the State Department Inspector General report and the FBI statement on the investigation. The Washington Post Fact Checker once again debunked the Clinton lies. After reviewing the facts, the article concluded:

Bill Clinton is correct that Comey “amended” his statement in the hearing, to provide more details about what the FBI had found. But Comey did not say Hillary Clinton “had never received any emails marked classified.” Two of three emails that had portion markings were call sheets that were improperly marked, and State Department considers the markings no longer necessary or appropriate at the time they were sent. Comey acknowledged that Clinton may not have known what the little-C marking meant.

The whole dispute over the little “c” versus big “C,” portion markings versus header, and so on, is the political equivalent of three-card monte. Democrats, like Bill Clinton, have cherry-picked Comey’s comments from the five-hour hearing to declare Hillary Clinton vindicated. But what they conveniently sweep under the rug are the 110 emails — which were not a part of the 2,000 that were retroactively classified — that were found to “contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.”

Moreover, the diversion to “little-C” markings is an effort to distract the public from the disturbing finding by the FBI that Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling her emails, and should have protected the information whether or not it had a classification marking. And it distracts voters from the fact that for more than a year, Clinton modified her excuse over and over to position herself in a way she can declare she was technically right in some form or another.

Bill Clinton also repeated the Democratic excuse that she used a personal email account just like her predecessor, and that she turned over more email records than her predecessors did. This comparison is a pathetic and misleading attempt to normalize Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email account and play down the fact that she was the only secretary of state to use a private server. The decision to use a private server is the root of all of the political difficulties concerning her email practices.

Three Pinocchios

pinocchio_3

No matter how many times the Clintons and their supporters tell the same lies, the facts are clear. Hillary Clinton knowingly and intentionally violated State Department rules in effect as of 2009–which were made stricter in response to abuses during the Bush administration. She is the only one to have used a private server to circumvent the law. Hillary Clinton actively tried to cover up her actions, failed to cooperate with investigators, and has repeatedly lied about the manner. While I doubt she intentionally sought to compromise national security, she did send and receive classified email, including instructing an aide to remove the “identifying heading” on one document. Multiple other lies have been identified by media fact checkers and in the reports from the State Department Inspector General and FBI.

In an interview on NPR earlier today, Julian Assange described the hypocrisy in the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton:

Julian Assange says if the United States government sees him as a threat to national security, it should see Hillary Clinton as one, too.

In an interview with Morning Edition‘s David Greene, the founder of WikiLeaks called the Department of Justice’s decision not to prosecute Clinton for handling classified information on her private email server an “incredible double standard.”

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for four years to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on suspicion of rape.

In a statement last month, FBI director James Comey said the FBI “did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws,” but that the use of a private email server was “extremely careless.” Comey advised the Justice Department that “no charges are appropriate in this case,” and career prosecutors agreed.

Assange noted that, had a case proceeded, Clinton could have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917, which bans the disclosure of classified information to an unauthorized person “with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States.”

Assange said in the past courts have found that a lack of intent to harm the United States did not absolve the accused of guilt.

Of course we know that there is a double standard in the United States, and that Hillary Clinton is too big to jail.

Clinton Precedent Cited In Sailor’s Case To Request Leniency

hillary-fbi-2

The Obama administration has an overly hard line record on prosecuting minor security breaches. Hillary Clinton, who has never had a very good record with regards to either government transparency or civil liberties, might inadvertently wind up reversing this trend. While the FBI did not recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite her reckless handling of classified information, people lower down have commonly been prosecuted for less. The handling of Clinton’s case is now likely to be cited in subsequent cases. Politico reported on one such case:

Citing Clinton, sailor seeks leniency in submarine photos case

A Navy sailor facing the possibility of years in prison for taking a handful of classified photos inside a nuclear submarine is making a bid for leniency by citing the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over classified information authorities say was found in her private email account.

Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, is set to be sentenced Friday on a single felony charge of retaining national defense information without permission. In May, Saucier pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., admitting that while working on the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 he took and kept six photos showing parts of the sub’s propulsion system he knew to be classified.

The defense and prosecutors agree that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a prison term of 63 to 78 months, but defense attorney Derrick Hogan cited the treatment of Clinton as he argued in a filing last week that Saucier should get probation instead.

“Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary [sic] Clinton…has come under scrutiny for engaging in acts similar to Mr. Saucier,” Hogan wrote. He noted that FBI Director James Comey said 110 emails in 52 email chains in Clinton’s account contained information deemed classified at the time, including eight chains with “top secret” information and 36 with “secret” information.

“In our case, Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as ‘confidential/restricted,’ far less than Clinton’s 110 emails,” Hogan wrote. “It will be unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid.”

There are distinctions between the cases. Saucier admitted as part of a plea bargain that he “knew from his training and his specialized work upon the submarine” that the photos contained classified information and he wasn’t authorized to take them. He also admitted that after being confronted by law enforcement in 2012 he destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card.

Clinton has said she didn’t know any information on her server was classified, although Comey has said anyone in Clinton’s position “should have known that an unclassified system was no place” for some of the subjects being discussed. While Clinton had tens of thousands of emails erased from her system in 2014, she did so with the advice of lawyers and before the FBI investigation was underway.

Regardless of whether people such as this sailor receive more lenient handling, I also wonder if Clinton will be as hard on such matters as the Obama administration has been if elected (which looks likely based upon current polls and Donald Trump’s continuing incoherence while campaigning). While her natural conservative inclination might be to be a hard liner, she might also be dissuaded by the inevitable comparisons to her case.

In related news, two Republicans have laid out their arguments for the Justice Department to investigate Clinton for perjury in her testimony before Congress. This includes lying over whether she sent or received classified information on her private server, the claim that her lawyers had gone through each email individually before deleting them, her  claim that all work related email was turned over to the State Department, and her claim that she used only one server while Secretary of State. The FBI report contradicts each of these claims made when she testified before Congress.

Clinton and Trump Both Guilty Of Hindering Press Coverage Of Campaigns

While Donald Trump’s antics are now receiving the bulk of the media coverage, reporters are also speaking out about how Hillary Clinton is interfering with the public’s right to know. Last month Carol Lee, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, argued that both Trump and Clinton are a threat to press freedom. This week Politico pointed out how Hillary Clinton is bucking tradition in limiting press access:

Think Donald Trump is the only candidate sidelining the press? Think again.

The Republican’s media blacklist, complaints about unbalanced coverage, and accusations that veteran reporters are simply fabricators have drawn the most vocal condemnation from the Washington press corps. But his stiff-arming has given Hillary Clinton an out that the media-wary candidate and her staff are just as ready to exploit.

First the Clinton press conferences and gaggles became rare. Now, the Trump campaign’s foot-dragging in allowing a basic press pool – a group of reporters that share travel duty to cover public events and minimize the logistics burden on the campaign – has given Clinton cover to not institute a protective pool, which would cover the candidate’s every move and ride on the campaign plane in the same way the White House press pool does and which typically begins when the candidates becomes the party’s official nominee.

One reporter covering the campaign said Clinton campaign officials directly cited Trump’s lack of a formal pool operation as part of the reason they have yet to set up a protective pool. Other reporters covering the Democratic nominee describe the situation as frustrating and “unlike anything in the past.”

“It’s a false equivalency,” said the Washington Post’s Anne Gearan, who is part of a team chairing the Clinton press pool for the remainder of the election but noted she did not know why the Clinton campaign hadn’t allowed a protective pool yet. “We’re advocating for access for the Clinton press pool. Whatever Trump does is immaterial as far as we’re concerned.”

The 2016 cycle marks the longest a candidate has gone without a protective press pool for the last three elections. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s coverage started in June, Sen. John McCain’s in July, as the Huffington Post noted last month. In 2012, Mitt Romney received protective pool coverage in early August (that year the Republican convention was held the last week of August)…

“From the Clinton side of it, certainly we have concerns that she is starting out with print organizations at a level of remove that is concerning to us,” Gearan said. “There are certain institutional norms that are in place at the White House for the way press access is treated. Those are not by right or law, they are as a result of negotiations and custom over a considerable amount of time. We certainly hope at this point in time there’s no consideration by the Clinton campaign that if she becomes president, she’d relax or go back on any of the current set of accommodations that are provided to the press in the White House.”

Another fear is that Clinton’s avoidance of the press as a candidate will extend to her presidency, assuming she wins in November. Clinton has a long history of opposing government transparency, along with a terrible record on First Amendment issues.

One reason she is probably even more determined to avoid the press this year is that when she does respond to questions regarding the email scandal, fact checkers have repeatedly pointed out that she is lying. The State Department Inspector General report and  James Comey’s statement on the FBI investigation also demonstrated that she has lied on multiple points. There is now a push to have Clinton’s testimony to the FBI made public, which is expected to show significant contradictions between what she has said in public statements and in testimony before Congress.

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In related news, there are unverified reports from conservative sources that an investigation of the Clinton Foundation is underway by both the FBI and a US Attorney. Regardless of whether this report is true, there has been further email evidence of improper actions involving the Foundation and the Clinton State Department. Robert Reich had this reaction:

This is the kind of thing I worry about. And it didn’t even come via wikileaks. It’s from the State Department.

A new batch of emails released yesterday by the Department shows sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary served as secretary of state, raising new questions about whether the Foundation rewarded its donors with access and influence at the Department. In one such communication, a Clinton Foundation executive in 2009 sought to put a billionaire donor in touch with the United States ambassador to Lebanon because of the donor’s interests there. In another, the Foundation appeared to push aides to Mrs. Clinton to help find a job for a Foundation associate. Her aides indicated that the department was working on the request.

The State Department turned the new emails over to a conservative advocacy group, Judicial Watch, as part of a lawsuit that the group brought under the Freedom of Information Act. But why weren’t these emails released before? Why weren’t they included in the 55,000 pages of emails Hillary previously gave the State Department, that she said represented all her work-related emails?

It is a shame that more Democrats are not showing concern over the corruption seen from Hillary Clinton.