As Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal persists and grows, Democratic leaders consider abandoning her for ticket of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
The persistence and growth of Hillary’s e-mail scandal concerns party leaders. Smart Democrats began dusting off copies of their Plan B for the 2016 fall campaign this week. They were prompted by a devastating report from Department of Justice inspector general, who found that “significant security risks” were raised by Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private e-mail server at the State Department.
Democrats know that an FBI report, potentially even more damaging, may be leaked in the coming weeks. Even if Hillary faces no criminal liability, she could find the number of Americans who view her as honest and trustworthy dropping below Donald Trump’s numbers. Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who helped break open the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, told CNN: Hillary Clinton did not want her e-mails subjected to the Freedom of Information Act or subpoenas from Congress, and that’s why she set up a home-brew server. I think we all know that. People around her will tell you that in private if you really get them behind a closed door. I spoke to a number of top Democratic officials, and they’re terrified, including people at the White House, that her campaign is in freefall because of this distrust factor. And, indeed, Trump has a similar problem. But she’s the one whose numbers are going south. “Trump lies about his businesses and changes with the wind,” one former Democratic senator told me. “But if Hillary is found to have compromised national security, that will be viewed as more relevant to the job of president.” Democrats will carefully watch the polls in the next few weeks. If Hillary stays slightly ahead of Trump or is competitive, she will become the Democratic nominee at the Philadelphia convention. But if her numbers slide, watch for super-delegates now in her camp to consider the possibility of substituting Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate — with the possible addition of Senator Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, as political balm for the party’s not nominating a woman for president.
Everyone knows that the election is in the hands of independent voters, who are about 40 per cent of the electorate. In the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, 59 percent per cent of independents said that their view of Clinton was unfavorable, and 67 percent said that she was “not honest and trustworthy.”
Even liberals appear close to the end of their patience with the Clintons. The Washington Post editorial board said that the findings of the State Department report demonstrate “Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.” During an MSNBC panel this Thursday, the comments were scathing as panelists ripped Hillary’s refusal to be interviewed by the inspector general and lambasted her obvious lie that her private e-mail practices were allowed by the State Department. “Trump now has ten new words for her: Incompetent Hillary, Dangerous Hillary,” former advertising brand executive Donny Deutsch said in exasperation. “I don’t know how to move the untrustworthy needle” on her, he concluded. Mike Barnacle of MSNBC said that the report “adds to the weight of voter exhaustion when it comes to the Clintons.” Al Hunt of Bloomberg News noted that the report’s depiction of Hillary’s State Department aides as enablers for her behavior “raises questions about who she surrounds herself with.” A partial answer is that she hires people who are at least as good at stonewalling investigations as Richard Nixon ever was. Only five of the 26 current and former Clinton aides whom the inspector general sought to interview agreed to cooperate.
Clinton herself refused to be interviewed, despite having claimed on CBS’s Face the Nation as recently as May 8 that she was “more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime” about her e-mail situation. Brian Fallon, the spokesman for the Clinton campaign, preposterously tried to justify the refusal by pointing to her willingness to be interviewed by the FBI for its probe. He also tried to disparage the neutrality of the inspector general’s office by saying that there were “open questions” about the “appropriateness” of its review. He told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that “there were reports about individuals in this office coming forward and suggesting there were hints of . . . anti-Clinton bias inside that office.” When pressed for specifics, he failed to provide any.
One reason may be that the last thing Hillary Clinton really wants to talk about is how the office of the inspector general functioned during her four-year tenure at State. Astonishingly, the department had no permanent inspector general during that period, the office being filled by an acting inspector, Harold Geisel. He had been an ambassador appointed by President Bill Clinton and also had close ties to the State Department’s leadership. Those ties would have barred him from seeking the job of permanent inspector general. “It’s a convenient way to prevent oversight,” says Michael Harris, a University of Maryland professor who is an expert on the role of inspectors general in government. Acting inspectors general are “in a position where they could be removed at any moment.” Geisel isn’t responding to calls from reporters, but the last permanent inspector general before him is. Howard Krongard served as the inspector general for State from 2005 to 2008. He told the New York Post that “it’s clear” that Hillary Clinton “did not want to be subject to internal investigations.” He believes that her actions in seeking to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests and the requirements of the Federal Records Act were clearly premeditated and intentional. That is significant because, as my NRO colleague Andrew C. McCarthy points out, violating those rules is an actual violation of federal law.
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