Last week, the White House caused a stir among the press corps by failing to announce that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had met for a private lunch. Reporters began questioning the White House after People Magazine tweeted about the Thursday lunch meeting, which was not part of the public presidential schedule. People Magazine deleted the tweet, but the White House finally confirmed that “The president enjoyed an informal, private lunch with Secretary Clinton at the White House this afternoon” later in the day.
Now Republicans are wondering just how informal that lunch was. Obama and the White House failed to notify Congress of the release of five high-value Taliban detainees in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl until Monday despite statutory requirements for 30 days’ notice, although the White House managed to get Bergdahl’s parents to the Rose Garden by Saturday. Did Obama tell Hillary Clinton about the trade on Thursday?
Republicans are raising questions about whether Hillary Clinton knew about the White House plan to release senior Taliban commanders in exchange for the last U.S. prisoner of war.
President Obama met with his former secretary of State for lunch on Thursday, two days before it was announced that Bowe Bergdahl had been released from captivity in exchange for five high-profile Taliban prisoners.
Republicans are furious that they were not told of the deal in advance, and argue that this broke U.S. law.
They are also suspicious that Obama may have informed Clinton, the likely Democratic frontrunner for the White House in 2016.
The White House has said it will not give a read out of Obama’s lunch with Clinton, calling it a private event.
But that has only made Republicans more curious about the timing between the lunch, and the controversial prisoner swap.
Hillary waited long enough to support the swap, if true. She announced her support last night on the same basis Obama argued this morning — that we take of our citizens abroad (via Allahpundit):
“This young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen — is an American citizen — was serving in our military,” Clinton said in response to a question about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose release was announced Saturday.
“The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.”
Put that in the context of Benghazi.
Jake Tapper thinks the question is “definitely” worth asking:
On one hand, it seems a bit of a stretch. Hillary and Obama learned to get along, but at least in public they never seemed like confidantes. On the other hand, that raises the question about the purpose of the lunch in the first place, and the timing appears at least … curious.
If Congress wants to pursue the case about notification, this certainly would be one avenue to pursue, but the more obvious one is the Bergdahls’ presence for the Saturday announcement. Obama managed to get them to the White House, but no one could pick up a phone to talk to Buck McKeon and Mike Rodgers? Come on, man.