I rarely get the opportunity to say anything positive about ABC News personality George Stephanopoulos, but he did have a moment this morning on his show, The Week, when he confronted Hillary Clinton about the Top Secret documents which we now know were stored in her infamous bathroom closet server. The story had little to do with the content of the actual emails (which we’ll likely never live to see, as is appropriate in matters of national security) and everything to do with her running excuses about how she did nothing wrong. First she is confronted about her insistence that if the documents weren’t marked classified she did nothing wrong. George pointed out to her that she signed an agreement clearly stating that markings have nothing to do with it. (Video first, then transcript.)
STEPHANOPOULOS: “You know, you’ve said many times that the emails were not marked classified. The non-disclosure agreement you signed as Secretary of State says that that’s really not that relevant. It says classified information is marked or unmarked classified and that all of you are trained to treat all of that sensitively and should know the difference.”
CLINTON: “Well of course and that’s exactly what I did. I take classified information very seriously. You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put on an unclassified system, no matter what that system is. We were very specific about that. And when you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”
I almost feel sorry for Stephanopoulos at this point. It’s like trying to have an argument with Rainman about buying underwear. First you tell her that she signed an agreement saying that the information is classified whether it’s marked or not. She agrees with you, saying that’s exactly how she handled things. Then, literally two sentences later, she says, “there has to be some markings, some indication...” I’ve had arguments with my niece over whether or not she already ate one of the Christmas cookies where she made a more logical defense.
And as a reminder, here is the agreement Secretary Clinton signed, obtained through a FOIA request.
Once that unpleasant little episode was over, the host went on to probe the question of why Clinton keeps insisting that even the State Department doesn’t think the emails are Top Secret and that it’s “an interagency dispute.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “You did have that surprise on Friday. The State Department saying they will not release 22 e-mails of yours deemed top-secret. You want them released. Why are you so confident that release would not compromise national security? What do you know about those emails that we don’t?”
CLINTON: “Well, here’s what I know. I know that this is, I think, a continuation of the story that has been playing out for months. There is no classified marked information on those e-mails, sent or received by me. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the intelligence committee, who’s had a chance to review them, has said that this email chain did not originate with me and that there were no classification markings. So I do want them released. And of course, I can’t be clear about exactly what the reasons might be for some in the government as part of this interagency dispute to make this request not to make them public. But, I would like to see them disclosed and I think they can and should be disclosed from everything I’m told about them.”
How is she still sticking with this story? It was the State Department that already announced that they were refusing to release the 22 emails because they were Top Secret, regardless of how they may or may not have been marked. What imaginary agency is Secretary Clinton referencing in this alleged “dispute” unless she thinks the DNC or her own campaign staff are now government agencies. (Hey, now that I think about it… she might really believe that.)
The wheels are really coming off this wagon quickly. I’ll repeat our earlier caution that we shouldn’t expect a prosecution any time soon – if ever – because it won’t take place without the consent and active cooperation of Barack Obama and the Justice Department. But as far as the general public and the rest of the world is concerned, the alibi has fallen apart and the facts are clear. Even if Hillary Clinton turns out to be above the law, she clearly broke it.