Want to know Hillary Clinton’s secret plan to deal with the media on her secret e-mail system? Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein gives readers a big hint: It ain’t transparency. In fact, it’s not much different than the way Clintons deal with the media on anything — just offer a statement, then stonewall, stonewall, stonewall:
Hillary Clinton won’t be presiding over a soul-searching press conference or sitting down for a come-clean interview about her use of a private email address any time soon — at least if everything goes according to her team’s plan.
The former secretary of state and her advisers have decided to adopt a time-tested Clintonian approach: take a concrete step to ease the pressure, then wait out the storm, according to three sources with knowledge of her team’s approach.
Their theory is that her late Wednesday tweet asking the State Department to release the 55,000 pages of emails she provided to the agency would start to calm the media and political tempest, while giving her spokesman an easy answer to many journalists’ questions: ask State.
Clinton and her team are aware that her tactics will only hold out for so long and that she’ll eventually have to answer questions about her e-mail practices, but she and her advisers are aiming to delay that moment, ideally until she formally announces she’s running for president. At that point, they hope, the controversy will have subsided to the point where her campaign launch will be a much bigger headline than her response to a month-old scandal. An added benefit to the approach: the potential for Republicans to overreach and overreact while Clinton stays silent.
If that sounds like déjà vu, then you remember the 1990s. The Clintons weathered a number of scandals during Bill Clinton’s presidency with precisely this strategy — stay quiet, wait for the attacks, and then claim to be victims of “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” The group Move On was originally founded to promote that strategy after Bill Clinton was found to have perjured himself in a court proceeding involving a sexual-harassment lawsuit, asking Congress to “censure President Clinton and move on” rather than holding him accountable for his crime. Whitewater, the Rose Law Firm billing records, the Travel Office firings — all of these were handled by the Clintons in the same manner, aided by a national media environment happy to paint Republicans as extremists and oddballs rather than hold Democrats accountable for their corruption.
When did they concoct the strategy for this particular scandal, though? It wasn’t this week. Politico reports that Team Hillary decided to stonewall on this back in August, when Republicans first got the evidence of the scam. And by the way, the Obama administration found out about it then, too:
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.
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. …
According to the sources, the problem came to light in August as the State Department prepared to respond to a request from the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. State Department officials noticed that some of the 15,000 pages of documents included a personal email address for Clinton, and State and White House officials conferred on how to handle the revelation, which they expected the committee to notice. But they felt that Clinton’s personal staff should take the lead, since she was no longer in government, and Clinton aides decided to wait and see.
So much for getting ahead of a scandal. And so much for the most transparent administration ever, too. Say, isn’t the administration supposed to, y’know, enforce the law?
It’s sounding like déjà vu to Democrats these days, too, and has them wondering whether they want to sign up for 6-10 more years of Clintonian parsing of forms of the verb to be, etc. This time the lawbreaking is not just undeniable (although some are certainly giving denial their best effort) but hypocritical to boot. Either Hillary would need to explain this in a way that settles the issue, or look for ways to shove the media’s attention onto her critics. It’s not surprising that Hillary is choosing Plan Carville here.
That assumes, though, that there aren’t more shoes to drop on the e-mail scandal. A Fox News report this morning shows that hope is misplaced:
Hillary Clinton appears to have established multiple email addresses for her private use, and possibly the use of her aides, under the domain of “clintonemail.com,” according to a prominent member of the hacking community who supplied independent research data, conducted with high-tech tools, to Fox News.
The hacker used an open-source tool, publicly available, called “The Harvester” to search a variety of data sources – including well-known platforms such as Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter and others – for any stored references to email addresses seen using a particular domain, in this case clintonemail.com. Hackers working under contract for private firms, also known as “White Hat hackers,” routinely use The Harvester during so-called “penetration testing,” or “pen testing,” on behalf of clients trying to ensure that their internal systems are secure.
The application of The Harvester to clintonemail.com revealed additional email addresses besides the one that Clinton aides have insisted publicly that she used, and have said was the only one that she used, when she served as Secretary of State: namely, [email protected]
A screen grab of The Harvester’s findings provided to Fox News by the source in the hacker community – whose professional resume also boasts extensive experience in the U.S. intelligence community – lists rather similar, but nonetheless different, email addresses, including [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]
This raises a number of questions. People often have more than one e-mail address to separate usage; I have at least five accounts, and probably more that I don’t use. However, I’m not operating them out of the same secret server used to hide from public accountability, and needless to say I’m not a high-ranking official in the Obama administration, either. The choice of these account names is somewhat … unimaginative, too. What business was conducted on 19 rather than 21 or 22? And were the passwords on these accounts PASSWORD19, PASSWORD21, and PASSWORD22, too?
The biggest reveal in this is the ease in which this system got hacked. This information didn’t come from a sophisticated attack on Clintonemail.com. It’s basically reading off the names on the mailboxes in a Manhattan co-op after faking out the doorman. It’s the kind of cybersecurity one might have expected to see in the Travel Office days.
McClatchy’s David Lightman says Hillary has a real problem, and stonewalling probably won’t solve it:
Big money that’s hard to account for? Forty percent of top donors over the past 10 years to the Clinton Foundation are based in foreign countries, McClatchy reported. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, and she joined the foundation after leaving office. The flap is reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s wooing big money by inviting well-heeled donors to attend fancy coffees or sleep over at the White House.
Secret, private emails? Could be an echo of the early Clinton administration, when first lady Hillary Clinton, in charge of overhauling the nation’s health care system, would not at first release the names of hundreds of people on her task force.
Transparency? “I think I’m the most transparent person in public life,” Clinton said in 2008. But would the public have learned of the email account if the Republican-led House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi incident hadn’t uncovered it?
To voters, all this opens Clinton to more, sharper criticism about how she’d campaign and govern. Or who has her ear.
PJ Media’s Roger Simon argues that this offers voters a real choice between the past and present, and between royalty and accountability:
Okay, what’s clear is the American public is being given a test. Are they going to elect Hillary Clinton, a serial liar who purposefully hides her communications from the public and the government she is supposed to be leading while making Foundation deals with Qatar and Algeria in the middle of a war against militant Islam? If they do that, after everything that has been revealed and is going to be revealed, after Benghazi during which this deeply immoral woman was able to tell the father of a man who was just murdered in a now proven jihadi terror attack that “they would get that man who made that video,” we are all screwed. I don’t know what we can do. Head to Texas and help it secede?
But apropos of the incredible paranoia of having not one, but ten hidden email accounts, I have been thinking of Ed Klein’s Blood Feud: The Clintons versus the Obamas, which I read some months ago. It was a pretty lurid account of some pretty lurid people but it strikes me that it might be the key to this email paranoia. Sure, no Clinton wants to be subject to a FOIA request, nowhere, nohow. But they would also want the hated Obamas as far out of their business as possible with the server safely ensconced in Chappaqua, far, far from Valerie Jarrett. (It’s not by accident Obama man David Axelrod cast aspersions on the emails today.) Anyway, we’ll all find out — or we won’t.
And whatever the case, fair’s fair. Bill has his “bimbo eruptions.” Now Hillary has her “email eruptions.”
And we’re getting a wicked sense of déjà vu all over again.