The cover up is often worse than the crime, as the old saying goes. That seems to be how the email story is working out for Hillary Clinton. FBI Director James Comey’s announcement Tuesday that he would not recommend charges means Clinton has nothing to fear legally. However Comey’s statement also put an unflattering spotlight on the myriad of false statements Clinton has offered in her year-long attempt to defend the email arrangement. Ed highlighted one unsparing fact-check by the Associated Press yesterday. Reuters published a similar comparison.
Also yesterday, Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler updated a fact check he published last year, changing the ruling from 2 Pinocchios to 4 Pinocchios, aka a whopper. Here is his addendum to the post:
FBI Director James Comey announced on July 5 his agency will not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her use of private email server. However, he said out of 30,000 emails that Clinton returned to the State Department, 110 emails in 52 email chains were found “to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received” — a contradiction to Clinton’s original, technical wording about whether or not classified materials were in her emails…
Moreover, Comey directly contradicted Clinton’s claim that she did not send or receive materials “marked” classified…In light of this information, we update the original Two Pinocchio rating to Four Pinocchios.
I’ve omitted a portion of Comey’s statement in which he indicates some of Clinton’s emails did contain classification markings when sent. In response to this, the Clinton camp sent Kessler a statement which reads in part:
We have not seen the emails the Director is referring to. We heard this for the first time when it was announced on TV, just like everyone else. The Secretary and campaign always have spoken to the best of our knowledge. And it was not just the campaign – but also the State Department, which also reviewed these emails – that had said none of these emails were marked classified.
Anyone who has been paying attention to this story knows two things. First, there was a report last month that some of Clinton’s emails contained portion markings indicating certain segments of the material were classified. It is not conceivable that the Clinton camp was unaware of this report prior to Tuesday. To be clear, Comey did not specify which emails contained the markings or what kind of markings they were, but the idea that some emails were marked is not new.
Second, the Clinton camp relying on the State Department is laughable. It has been clear for nearly a year that the State Department, though not the Inspector General for the Department, was backing Clinton on every claim she made. For instance, last year both the Clinton camp and the State Department floated the idea that what appeared to be classified information taken from the intelligence agencies was just a case of parallel reporting or a dispute between agencies. Here is how that got reported by the NY Times last September:
On Monday, the Clinton campaign disagreed with the conclusion of the intelligence review and noted that agencies within the government often have different views of what should be considered classified…
“Our hope remains that these releases continue without being hampered by bureaucratic infighting among the intelligence community, and that the releases continue to be as inclusive and transparent as possible,” said Nick Merrill, a campaign spokesman.
John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, echoed Mr. Merrill.
“Classification is rarely a black and white question, and it is common for the State Department to engage internally and with our interagency partners to arrive at the appropriate decision,” he said in a statement. “Very often both the State Department and the intelligence community acquire information on the same matter through separate channels. Thus, there can be two or more separate reports and not all of them based on classified means. At this time, any conclusion about the classification of the documents in question would be premature.”
Again, this was after a review by the intelligence community found the material was classified. And yet, the State Department was still echoing Clinton’s campaign spokesman, refusing to acknowledge the facts.
The FBI Director’s statement put an end to months of unsupported excuses offered by the Clinton camp and the State Department. The AP has noticed. Reuters has noticed. And the Post had upgraded its ruling from the equivalent of a misleading exaggeration to a blatant lie. And to think, extracting this bit of clarity only took a congressional select committee, an IG security referral and an FBI investigation spanning a total of two years. Should she win in November, you can expect more of the same honesty and transparency from a Clinton administration.