Well, a lot has changed since 2001 … and a lot hasn’t. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski catches this unguarded moment from an old ABC News look into — tah dah! — questionable cash handling around Team Clinton in her first Senatorial bid. The moment of truth comes at the 3:30 mark or so, and makes it pretty clear that Hillary Clinton intended to keep prying eyes away from her communications:
ROSS: (VO) Dionne Warwick sang for the small group. Ironically enough, “That’s what friends are for.” Numerous stars were there, but Paul and his wife Andrea were the ones seated right next to Mrs. Clinton. In fact, Paul’s home videos picked up Mrs. Clinton saying she had stopped using e-mail messages because of all the investigations she had been through.
Senator CLINTON: (From home video) As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I—I don’t even want—why would I ever want to do e-mail?
Mr. PAUL: (From home video) No, no.
Senator CLINTON: (From home video) Can you imagine?
This raises a couple of interesting questions about the past and present. In 2000, e-mail may not have been quite as ubiquitous as it is today, and the Federal Records Act wasn’t a controlling authority over it. However, even at that stage, she knew that leaving a paper trail (so to speak) would allow public scrutiny, and that she was determined to avoid it — even as a potential Senator, and certainly as a Clinton.
That makes the Democratic establishment spin today, as captured by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times, a tough sell:
In a testament to Mrs. Clinton’s political strength — and underscoring the scarcity of other potential White House hopefuls — senior Democrats spoke in her defense without fully explaining why she had avoided using a government account during her four-year tenure in the Obama administration.
“I don’t think there’s any ill intent in this,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said Tuesday. “I just don’t know how the State Department functions with regard to this.”
An array of leading Democrats echoed Ms. Feinstein’s view, defending Mrs. Clinton broadly while sidestepping questions about transparency and ethics. Some even went to great lengths to dismiss the report.
“People have different ways of communicating,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. “I have a granddaughter who does nothing but text. You’ll never find a letter written with her. So everybody’s different.”
Except, of course, that Hillary did “do” e-mail, and deliberately planned to avoid accountability and scrutiny. She was so arrogant about it that she never bothered to even set up an official e-mail account at State, and secretive enough to have an “Eric Hoteham” front the project and keep it in-house … literally. The fear of scrutiny extended to her aides, who also had their e-mail run through the Clintonemail.com system.
The only reason to go to that much trouble was to satisfy the intent Hillary expressed in 2000, which is “ill” enough to violate federal regulations. After all, those regulations don’t exist to provide museums with interesting exhibits. They exist so that the actions of executive-branch officials can be held accountable for the actions they take.
If you started the video where Dionne Warwick sings “That’s What Friends Are For,” though, go back to the beginning and watch the whole report. Brian Ross reports on the “aggressive fundraising practices” of the Clintons and their connection to Peter Paul, who became a bête noire of the Clintons after throwing millions of dollars into fundraising for Hillary. The Clinton campaign later paid $35,000 in FEC fines related to Paul’s fundraising, although they could not substantiate Paul’s other claims and a court later dismissed a lawsuit he filed against Hillary. He’s apparently still pursuing a claim against Bill Clinton — but only after his recent release from federal prison, the result of a 2009 plea bargain in a securities fraud case involving comic-book legend Stan Lee.
It’s quite a colorful tale, but it provides echoes of the Clinton Foundation foreign-government donations, as well as the remarkable acquisition of wealth following Bill Clinton’s exit from the presidency — while Hillary served in the US Senate and then as Secretary of State. The first comment on the YouTube video quotes The Who, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” but in this case it’s the old boss doing the same old thing, over and over again.
Allahpundit may be right in that the same old culture of corruption around the Clintons might not get voters too excited, but they’re not going to get enthusiastic about Hillary, either. In the meantime, it will encourage other Democrats to challenge her, and certainly embolden Republicans to offer a real choice in 2016 rather than a consultant-driven default selection.
Update: The House select committee on Benghazi will issue subpoenas later today to get as much data as possible from the Clintonemail.com system, the Washington Post reports:
A House investigative committee is preparing to send out subpoenas later today to gather a deeper look into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nearly-exclusive use of personal e-mails to do her official business as the government’s top diplomat, according to people familiar with the probe.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi , which first discovered Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail based on a home server in its inquiry into the fatal terrorist attack on the State Department’s Benghazi consulate, is asking for all e-mails relating to the attack from all Clintonemail.com accounts and any other staff members’ personal accounts.
The subpoenas are expected to go out to the State Department later today. The move escalates the panel’s conflict with Clinton, and could complicate her expected run for president.
House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz may want a look at that, too:
Chaffetz said his inquiry would look at whether Clinton viewed classified or sensitive matieral on a personal account. “Do you really believe that the secretary of state never reviewed classified information on her e-mail?” Chaffetz said.