For Hillary Clinton there is no going back. Should she, like Macbeth, “wade no more” into her river of Emailgate deception and lies, the return journey would be “as tedious as go o’er”. It is either the White House or the Big House for the Democrats’ presidential candidate. Her best shot at winning on November 8 is to keep insisting that Donald Trump is KKK. She must also stick to the line that the FBI has cleared her of any wrongdoing while Secretary of State (2009-13) and disparage any dissenting opinion as “partisan conspiracy theorising”.
Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash – as book (2015), documentary (2016) and now graphic novel (2016) – threatens to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign because it places Emailgate in a broader, and more ominous, framework. Schweizer’s research suggests Hillary, in agreement with husband Bill, made more than $200 million by monetising the overlap between global charitable organisations (in this case, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative) and non-global government oversight (the US Senate and Department of State). As mentioned in The Audacity of Crooked Hillary (Part 1), Hillary, Bill and daughter Chelsea have not made a cent out of the Clinton Foundation. Fifteen years of selflessly helping others – as they tell it – and the naysayers only want to knock their philanthropic enterprise. Only two weeks ago Bill Clinton tearfully reflected: “We’re trying to do good things. If there’s something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don’t know what it is.”
The critics of the Clinton Foundation have not only come from the conservative side of the aisle. Ed Pilkington, writing in The Guardian in May of this year, had this to say about the film version of Clinton Cash: “Perhaps the most telling detail is the bald fact that between 2001 and 2013 Bill Clinton made 13 speeches in which he charged more than $500,000 in fees; 11 of those speeches were made within the period when his wife was working as America’s top diplomat.”
The insinuation, then, is that a smorgasbord of foreign governments and multinational companies would evade/rework US law by inviting Bill Clinton to speak at international seminars for more than half-a-million dollars a time – $750,000 in the Ericsson case – as part of a pay-to-play scheme. Donate to the Clinton Foundation and/or invite the loquacious Bill to opine on the general state of the world and the US Department of State would – as Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s personal assistant, expressed it in an email newly released by the FBI – “figure it out”.
Ed Pilkington, to be fair, does not entirely endorse Clinton Cash. For instance, he mentions the eight or so factual errors in the first edition of Schweizer’s book and, furthermore, insists that there is “no smoking gun” in the book or the film. Unquestionably, no email has emerged along these lines: ‘November 12, 2011, Hong Kong. Greetings, HRC! The Ericsson speech tonight…$750,000! Suppose I should jot down a few ideas – maybe after lunch. Don’t forget your end of the bargain. Get Ericsson off the sanctions list pronto. Cheers, Bill.’ One reason why such an email will not materialise could be that Bill Clinton apparently prefers face-to-face communication to sending off electronic missives – that, at least, is what he claims.
Chris Matthews, writing for Fortune magazine in June of this year, is another on the progressive side of politics to argue that while no documented proof exists to conclusively prove that Ericsson managed to circumvent US policy, “it was probably not a good idea for Bill Clinton to accept money from a company who had business in front of the State Department while his wife was running it.” In the rise and rise of the Clintons, from governor’s mansion in Little Rock to the White House, from US Congress to the Department of State, it is usually about this point – circumstantial evidence but no proverbial smoking gun – that the Bill & Hillary Obfuscation Show kicks into high gear: a two-part strategy of “Deny! Deny! Deny!” followed by a lethal counter-attack, consisting of a whirl of private threats and public slander directed at their accusers/victims.
The trusty stratagem appeared to slip perfectly into place in the earlier phase of the 1998 Monica Lewinsky Scandal. President Bill Clinton assured the public of his innocence: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, er, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.” President Bill Clinton, as per Chairman Bill Clinton of the Clinton Foundation, was “just trying to do good things”. Why, for heaven’s sake, are people so mean? First Lady Hillary Clinton then vilified the whistle-blowers as “a vast right-wing conspiracy”. Had Monica Lewinsky not been persuaded to save a certain semen-stained blue dress from a trip to the drycleaners, Zippergate would have played out very differently. As it was, President Bill Clinton subsequently confessed to a grand jury that he had an “improper physical relationship” with Lewinsky.
Today, caught up in the midst of Emailgate, Candidate Hillary Clinton has denounced the “conspiracy theory machine factory” – not as catchy, perhaps, as vast right-wing conspiracy but we get the drift. One comment-thread correspondent to Quadrant Online, in response to The Audacity of Hillary Clinton (Part 1), insisted that there was “a whiff of conspiracy” about the accusations against Hillary Clinton. Our missive writer is correct, but perhaps not for the reason he thinks. A “conspiracy”, we should note, does not have to be of the “tin-foil hat” variety. I argued, for instance, about the dangers of wild conspiracy theories in What JFK’s Assassination Did to America (Quadrant, November 2013). A far more plausible interpretation of conspiracy simply means the intent of two or more people to connive in order to circumvent the law or company policy. Occurrences of this kind are everyday events and, contraire Hillary Clinton, do not require total suspension of disbelief accompanied by the theme music for The Twilight Zone.
That said, to accuse someone – including, yes, Hillary Clinton – of underhanded scheming without any kind of evidence is a form of slander. Precisely because they are entrusted with power and influence, politicians are subject to every kind of allegation, foul or fair. That is why President Obama insisted that before she took up her post as Secretary of State in early 2009, Hillary Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding that guaranteed not just the separation of her leadership position in the State Department from her husband’s role as CEO of the Clinton Foundation but complete transparency on the matter. She was instructed not just to do the right thing but seen to be doing the right thing.
It came as a shock, then, when the New York Times in February 2015 reported that Hillary Clinton’s inner circle had provided her with a private server(s) and an attendant private email system in 2008-09 that could serve no other purpose than to obscure her dealings from any kind of management/government oversight. Virtually no employee in the Western world, let alone someone working for the US State Department with all its associated confidentialities and sensitivities, could expect to carry out work-related business (emails or otherwise) on a private server. In one sense, at least, Hillary Clinton and her closest advisors, which included chief of staff Cheryl Mills and personal assistant Huma Abedin, engaged in a scheme – that is, conspiracy – to obfuscate the Secretary’s electronic communications and all-round machinations from the very beginning.
There will be those who, even at this point, insist that there is still no proof that Hillary Clinton was criminally corrupt during her term as Secretary of State – she was momentarily unwise, temporarily lacked judgement, made an honest mistake (and so on), but that is all in the past. Clinton apologists can point to the fact that on July 5, 2016, FBI Director General Comey recommended no charges be made against her because the FBI “did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information”. Soon after, Candidate Clinton was asserting that she had been “cleared” of any transgression, but that does not completely fit with Cowley’s view that evidence points to Team Clinton being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”. Moreover, Hillary Clinton’s earlier justification for a private server – “convenience” – made no sense when the FBI report exposed a number of private servers and a large number of concomitant devices.
Clinton defenders persist with the claim about no smoking gun or, if you like, no stained blue dress. Up to a point, of course, this is fair enough – but only up to a point. It is very rare for any crime, from the smallest convenience-store robbery to the Holocaust, to be entirely proven or documented in its every detail, and an historian or police investigator must consider the convergence of evidence. No organisation has done more to highlight the convergence of evidence in Emailgate than Tom Fitton’s Judicial Watch. Its mission is to “use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other tools to investigate misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities”. Tom Fitton and the organisation in general, established in 1994, could be described as “conservative” but more in the philosophical sense of encouraging honesty and transparency in government than as a narrowly partisan anti-Hillary Clinton outfit.
In any case, according to Tom Fitton the criminality of Emailgate is right there on page 16 of the FBI’s 47-page report, released last week on the eve of a long weekend in America. First we need a little chronology to give this bold allegation some context.
- On March 3, 2015, Hillary Clinton was subpoenaed by the House Benghazi Committee to provide the emails on her private server.
- On March 25, 2015, Platte Rover Networks, the company that managed Hillary Clinton’s private server, had a conference call with a member of Bill Clinton’s staff. An employee of Platte River Networks, some time during the following week, used BleachBit technology to shred Hillary Clinton emails so that “even God can’t read them”.
In the FBI’s report, notes Fitton, none other than Cheryl Mills – likely White House chief counsel should Hillary Clinton be elected president – is revealed as the staff member who determined what emails were to be preserved and handed over to the House Benghazi Committee and which ones needed to be expunged. Tom Fitton makes this claim, in an interview with the New York Post, about Team Clinton’s clandestine destruction of evidence under subpoena:
“The whole thing was designed to keep Clinton Foundation emails away from investigators. It was clear they did not want non-.gov related emails picked up in their search; so they said, let’s search in a way that those emails won’t be picked up, and if they are picked up, we’ll have Mills come in and destroy them.”
Huma Abedin, the only other member of staff with an email account on the clintonemail.com system, was more than Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department; she liaised with the Clinton Foundation. God might no longer be privy to that particular correspondence but, who knows, possibly Julian Assange is.
On September 1, 2016, Judicial Watch released 510 pages of new State Department documents garnered from a FOIA suit. It includes a 2009 request by Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band for diplomatic passports for him and an associate: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Abedin responded to the request positively, saying, “Ok will figure it out.” The emails show Hillary Clinton forwarding classified information to Abedin’s unsecured, non-state.gov account. The emails also show Bill Clinton sought a meeting with Mrs Clinton for a major Clinton donor with State Department officials and Hillary Clinton herself pushed for a joint event with the Clinton Global Initiative. Band also pushed for and obtained special help from Abedin for seven-figure Clinton Foundation donor Chris Ruddy, of Newsmax.com. As Breitbart.com notes, Ruddy has done a complete about-face since the early days of Newsmax, when he was amongst the most ardent chroniclers of Clinton scandals, from Vince Foster’s curious suicide to the efforts by the First Couple’s hired operatives to silence the “bimbo eruptions” that punctuated Bill’s time in office. Money, influence and power — for some, it’s a potent, perhaps irresistible, threesome
Slowly but surely a complex picture of State Department-Clinton Foundation-Bill Clinton collusion is emerging – much to the chagrin of Clinton supporters.
Noah Feldman, professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University, has written “Judicial Watch’s Pursuit of Clinton Goes Too Far” for Bloomberg. He closes with the opinion that President Clinton would have done a superior job at pre-empting Osama bin Laden’s 2001 attack on America if he had not spent the years 1998-2000 “dealing with wide-ranging depositions” by organisations like Judicial Watch. We might, surely, put that the other way around: perhaps President Clinton could have better protected America if he had not embarked on an “improper physical relationship” with a 19-year-old White House intern in the Oval Office and then tried to cover-up that tawdry business. And, just maybe, America – and the West – might have been better served if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had focused more on safeguarding her country than furthering her husband’s lucrative celebrity appearances.
Lady Macbeth advises her husband “to look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under’t”. Lady Clinton, alas, is looking less like an innocent flower by the day.