March 05, 2015

Hillary Clinton, meet Sarah Palin

If I were Hillary Clinton, I would hope this photo never, ever again
sees the light of day. Too late! (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Because you now have one big thing in common: using personal email accounts, repeatedly, deliberately, for an extended period of time, to conduct government business.

Update, March 4: And having one of your top assistants using an email account on the same domain. This story is expanding, and even as Media Matters and other Clintonistas attempt to quash it, they're failing.

Update 2, March 5: The plot thickens over who was running the ClintonEmail server. See below. And, it's time to ask "who benefits." See this post for that.

And, vote in the new poll at right!

I wasn't going to vote for Hillary Clinton if she got the Democratic nomination anyway, but this is more reason to be even firmer in that resolve.

Brains and Eggs has yet more, with plenty of links, all of which I fully endorse, including how it stinks in manifold ways and underscores every myth out there about the deviousness of both Hillary and Bill.

That deviousness is likely more hers than his, anyway. I doubt there was anything criminal in Whitewater, and I do think Ken Starr was on a witch hunt, but Hillary Clinton's deviousness goes back to Rose Law Firm days. So, too, does the issue of which one of the two wears the pants in this family. Please, folks, no "blue dress" or "not wearing pants" jokes!

Media Matters works hard to shoot some of the story, at least, down. It seems correct in that Hillary Clinton's practice was not illegal. Beyond that, though, the optics still aren't good, no matter what MM protrays.

And, MM can't explain away what the Times notes in a follow-up: That Hillary had been asked for emails before, and the State Department had not provided them. Whether that's simply due to not being aware of her personal account, or active stonewalling, is unclear.

And, contra MM, the Times notes that since 2009, government officials using private email have had a responsibility for appropriate archiving:
Mrs. Clinton’s aides have said her use of private email was not out of the ordinary, pointing to the fact that former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a personal email account, before the current regulations went into effect. But since 2009, said Laura Diachenko, a National Archives and Records spokeswoman, federal regulations have stated that “agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.”

Seems pretty clear. So, MM trying to claim that another, 2014 law requiring public email accounts be used as the only operative law in this situation is wrong.

And, per Brains linking back to me, yea, it's kind of sad that Media Matters is going down the road of "all in for Hillary." It's now redoubled down, attacking the Times follow-up.

MM is also claiming that Business Insider supports all of its diatribe against the Times. Erm, no!

First, MM claims that her email “was revealed” in 2013. Here’s the details:
Her address was revealed in early 2013, shortly after she left the State Department. It was published when a hacker obtained messages written by her former aide, Sidney Blumenthal.
In other words, if not for this hack, we might not have known today (or until her email addy came up in other emails), that she was using this address, and solely this address.

And, as Chris Hitchens political readers know, Sid Blumenthal himself needs to be taken with a grain of salt at times.

Then this:
Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill issued a statement in response to the article wherein he argued Clinton corresponded with people on their government account whenever she conducted official business. In the statement, which he sent to Business Insider, Merrill said this meant Clinton knew all of her official emails would be preserved. 
"Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any Department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained," Merrill said. 
Does that “expectation” amount to a “must ensure”? No. And, even if it did, it ONLY covers emails sent BY Clinton to State Department staffers. It does NOT cover emails sent to or received from (for whatever reasons) state governments, and certainly not foreign governments.

Business Insider then links to a Gawker 2013 story to say this is a tempest in a teapot.  Other than the fact that this was public knowledge two years ago, and didn’t raise quite as much ruckus then, the Gawker story otherwise pretty much undercuts Business Insider’s whole angle. It asks questions about Blumenthal’s security clearance,  possible leaks about him and Libya issues (Benghazi!) and more. Nor does the 2013 story spell out that Clinton used this address for ALL her official emails.

Maybe an Obama staffer put a new bug in somebody's ear, given Blumenthal's involvement.

But let's turn this back to the first NYT story.

First is this:
It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.
Thus, the rest of Business Insider’s story, specifically Nick Merrill’s claim, is refuted.

Second, the NYT original story explicitly spells out what I did above:
He did not address emails that Mrs. Clinton may have sent to foreign leaders, people in the private sector or government officials outside the State Department.

As for the Business Insider claim that BlackBerry wouldn’t handle two email accounts? First, email forwarding exists. Second, giving up a second email account exists. Third, doing personal email on a second “device” exists.

As for everybody pouncing on the Times story that “Colin Powell did the same,” well, email was different a decade ago, first, and second, Condoleezza Rice followed Powell and came before Clinton, and we've not heard such a claim about her.

Finally, as for the claim Clinton didn't break any "laws"? Yes, true in a narrow, technical sense. A federal regulation like the one in 2009 is not a "law." But it is a federal regulation.

As for how it came (back) to light? Also per the first NYT story:
The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack.
Two weeks ago, the State Department, after reviewing Mrs. Clinton’s emails, provided the committee with about 300 emails — amounting to roughly 900 pages — about the Benghazi attacks.
Yes, it’s House wingnuts on Benghazi.

On the other hand, per the Gawker piece, it’s Sid Blumenthal and him having gotten inside information about events on the ground in Libya.

Maybe, if not a full fire, there’s a few embers behind the smoke.

Beyond the Libya connection and Blumenthal, there's other problems. For that, go below the fold.

A new Gawker story says that one Clinton aid at State definitely had private emails on the same domain and another was thought to have, though a source's word apparently wasn't fully correct on that. Both were fairly high assistants — but also fairly high Friends of Hillary, including Huma Abedin, best known, perhaps, as Ms. Anthony Weiner, as the one confirmed person. (Another Business Insider piece has more background on this.)

In a later follow-up by the original author, the other person originally fingered, Philippe Reines, is VERY hot under the collar. However, instead of a ClintonMail account, he may have used a Gmail account, which would be even less secure. Meanwhile, apparently Huma Abedin is refusing to respond to him. And Reines claims he doesn't understand what the big deal is about Abedin.

Meanwhile, for Clintonistas saying move along? Per the first of the two Gawker stories by J.K. Trotter, it seems clear that at least some of Reines' Gmail emails were NOT archived, therefore violating law. And, our man in Nairobi was fired in 2012, in part for using Gmail.

As for Clinton herself, Merrill is claiming, per this piece, that all emails that were not "personal notes" were among the 55,000 submitted for archiving.

First, who gets to define "personal note"? Second, given that at least a few of Reines' Gmail emails weren't archived, we should trust Merrill why?

Meanwhile, on the psychology side?

Basically, Reines is playing bad cop, Abedin is playing silent cop and Merrill is playing defense attorney.

And, of course, I'm wondering who the source is, and why he or she spilled the beans, having formerly worked with Clinton. Maybe this is a sign that her would-be 2016 campaign is in not better organizational state than was her 2008 effort.

And, per my second update (as I think I need to do a second blog post), the ClintonEmail domain server was apparently run by another Friend of Hillary. A Whois lists an Eric Hoteham, but nobody by that name, at least with a public profile, exist.

However, an Eric Hothem most certainly does. As noted here and elsewhere, he was a Hillary Clinton staffer when she was First Lady. And, that link notes he's got plenty of his own "baggage." Given that baggage, his long-time Democratic Leadership Council connections, his connections to Clinton money and more, the optics just continue to look worse all the time. More here on some of the angles involved with a private server, even without Hothem's name attached.

And, via a conservative blog, there's this, with the goods starting at about 3:30:

That's where Hillary admits, at a 2000 dinner party, that she stopped using email due to "all the investigations." Here's some background, from another conservative blog, on the Clinton donor behind this, Peter F. Paul. That said, Peter Paul's a "hustler" with little more of a political compass than Dick Morris. He admits, on the tape, which is connected to his lawsuit against the Clintons, getting outhustled by them. Paul used Judicial Watch for the lawsuit, and lost, while also having a falling out with Judicial Watch.

I think his allegations are pretty baseless, but, the whole story, including this video, is out there. And, as a Joe Biden flak has already noted, this is going to be another part of the death of 1,000 cuts.

Meanwhile, some of Hillary Clinton's most notable allies, like Sen. Betty Crocker (D-Rich Connected Neoliberal California) were apparently caught off guard by the whole issue, and their responses far have been less than aggressive. This Times story notes that Clinton's own response is similarly less than aggressive, perhaps in part due to not having a formal campaign running yet.

That said, if this weakens her, are other Democrats enticed to run? What if it knocks her out entirely, or becomes a factor in her not running? 

Well, Joe Biden's undeclared campaign is making clear it hopes he benefits.

Also, at the risk of sounding ageist, she will be, if she runs in 2016, within 9 months of the age of Ronald Reagan when he ran in 1980.

Note to any conservatives reading this. Yes, I deliberately used "Mrs. Anthony Weiner" in my one Tweet after updating, knowing this would draw retweeting eyeballs. If you'll read my profile, or a few of my politics posts, though, you'll see I'm very clearly not one of you.

As for the "Benghazi" issue? That's a bipartisan clusterfuck; neither Tweedledee nor Tweedledum wants to discuss why the CIA had a spook shack there.

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