Anyone who thought that the current leadership at the State Department wasn’t in the loop on the Clinton email scandal when it broke and actively working to protect Hillary Clinton was disabused of that notion thanks to recent Wikileaks revelations. As a reminder, before any of us heard about the explosive revelation by the New York Times in early March of 2015, they asked the State Department for a comment to include in their story. As soon as that happened, rather than firing off a response to the reporter, they first contacted the Clinton camp to coordinate the response.
In a March 1, 2015 email, State Department press aide Lauren Hickey told Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill and two other advisers that then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had “just cleared” a reply to the Times. Hickey provided the agency’s response to the Clinton aides and also appeared to agree to a change requested by the campaign, saying: “Yes on your point re records – done below.” It is not clear what specific change was requested and made.
In an unusual display of backbone for the normally Clinton friendly press, reporters asked State Department spokesperson John Kirby why the office would be checking the best way to frame their answer with the former Secretary of State and even allowing her team to edit the message. Kirby seemed to be at a loss for words and the ensuing dance was something to behold. (Free Beacon)
Kirby refused to comment on the leaked documents during the State Department daily press briefing on Wednesday. When asked about officials coordinating with the campaign, Kirby said that it was appropriate at times to communicate with a former State Department official to ensure accuracy.
“Accuracy is one thing and making sure that you have all the facts, but working with the Clinton campaign to craft your press guidance does, or quotes that you’re sending out to members of the media, does seem [to go] beyond trying to determine whether you’re accurate,” CNN’s Elise Labott said.
Kirby again refused to comment on the case.
This is yet another case where a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is probably equal to a million or so. Check out this short clip of the presser.
Kirby’s first answer takes a page straight out of Donna Brazile’s playbook. “I’m not going to talk about leaked documents.” I’m not sure when that memo was handed around to all of Clinton’s allies, but they’ve been hanging onto it like a dog with a bone. It’s the go-to answer when something uncomfortable comes up in the Podesta emails or other DNC documents. They don’t seem to be willing to risk saying that the documents are inauthentic (because they aren’t or we’d have heard them screaming about it for months now) but Brazile, Kirby and their cronies still try to cast doubt on the stories by implying that their sourcing is somehow shady.
Kirby then goes on with no less than seven painful seconds of saying, “Um…. uh….” as the press corps stares blankly at him. Following that horribly awkward pause the spokesman stumbles through an attempt at saying that it’s appropriate to sometimes reach out to former officials in the interest of “accuracy.” As shown in the quoted text above, CNN’s Elise Labott wasn’t having any of it and her response is delivered with some barely disguised sarcasm.
Amazingly, when Labott follows up with a direct question as to whether or not “this building” is coordinating with the Clinton campaign on “the messaging that’s coming out,” Kirby pauses for a couple of beats and then says, “No.” He shakes his head and repeats, “No.”
Really, John? Because the reporters are holding emails in their hot little hands showing that’s precisely what happened. I suppose the State Department could try to cover their trail by claiming that Labott asked the question in the present tense (“Is this building coordinating with the Clinton campaign“) and they are no longer doing it, but that’s some pretty thin gruel in terms of a cover story.
Hillary Clinton has had much of the press on her side almost every step of the way and the executive branch of the government clearly has been trying to run damage control operations for her as well. And still the wheels are flying off this wagon. Really makes you wonder if we’ll ever know the full extent of the damage which came from this sorry episode in American history.