From the IRS targeting scandal, to Fast and Furious, to the Veterans Affairs controversy, to the Department of Justice’s monitoring of journalists; if the scandal has the power to hurt the administration, the supposedly omni-competent Barack Obama instantly devolves into a witless babe and a victim of his overprotective staff. The president, we are told, learned about all of these and other serious scandals from the news media.
It is a testament to the potency of the scandals involving Hillary Clinton’s refusal to abide by administration guidelines and memoranda of understanding involving ethics (not to mention the law) that Obama averred again recently that he was only made aware of this behavior from his former secretary of state when he read it in the papers.
When asked directly about Clinton’s scandalous behavior by CBS reporter Bill Plante, Obama insisted that he was informed of it “at the same time everybody else learned it: Through news reports.”
Obama went on to gallingly insist that his is the most transparent presidential administration in American history, a claim that should by now be prompting reporters to move on from laughing derisively to the issuing of accusatory rebuttals… Any minute now.
By “everybody,” Obama is presumably talking about you. He is most certainly not referring to his staff.
“The White House, State Department and Hillary Clinton’s personal office knew in August that House Republicans had received information showing that the former secretary of state conducted official government business through her private email account — and Clinton’s staff made the decision to keep quiet,” Politico reported on Friday.
Sources familiar with the discussions say key people in the Obama administration and on Clinton’s staff were aware that the revelation could be explosive for the all-but-announced candidate for president. But those involved deferred to Clinton’s aides, and they decided not to respond.
In the end, Clinton’s staff waited six months — until after the New York Times published a story on Tuesday about the email account and the possibility that it hampered public access to official records — to begin their response.
Obama’s responses to CBS News leave the viewer with more questions than answers.
Did the president personally utilize one of Clinton’s private email addresses? If so, when and how often? If not, which of his advisors or staff members did he rely on to communicate with Clinton electronically? Which members of the president’s administration were made aware of these explosive revelations in August of last year? Does the president believe that Clinton’s use of a private email system could have theoretically been compromised by foreign intelligence services? If not, why did the State Department warn of that likelihood when it asked its employees to avoid using insecure email accounts? Did Clinton’s use of a private email account violate the administration’s guidelines with regards to transparency and compliance with archiving laws? Et cetera.
The answers to these and other questions would be enlightening. One suspects, however, that the president would expose someone within the administration of covering for Clinton if he were to respond to these questions honestly and comprehensively. Who knows where that thread would lead if it were pulled?