Another day, another set of lies from Hillary Clinton’s campaign about her national security-compromising and ongoing email scandal — previous dissembling and dishonesty about which was exposed in last week’s bombshell Inspector General report. Because mendacious assertions in earlier nothing-to-see-here memos have been blown to bits by the facts, Hillary’s campaign chairman has been forced to roll out a fresh round of spin. As John Podesta feeebly attempts to play defense while evincing some degree of contrition, two points stick out. First, he claims that if Hillary had been aware of “any concerns” about her email scheme, she would have nipped them in the bud. Via Chuck Ross:
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman offered a new explanation in a recent memo to big-dollar donors for why the Democratic front-runner used a private email system. “Had Secretary Clinton known of any concerns about her email setup at the time, she would have taken steps to address them. She believed she was following the practices of other Secretaries and senior officials,” John Podesta wrote in a memo obtained by Buzzfeed. Clinton did not inform State Department officials about the system, though the watchdog’s report said she had an “obligation” to do so. She also failed to follow State Department policy by failing to tell State Department information security officials about two attempted hacking attempts on the server, which was managed in secret by State Department information technology specialist Bryan Pagliano.
If only she’d known about those concerns at the time, “she would have taken steps to address them,” he insists, adding that she believed she was simply following guidelines and precedent. This is false. The IG report states that if Mrs. Clinton had bothered to seek permission for her scheme (which she wrongly described as “allowed” for months), she would have been denied. Why? Because her shockingly unsecure set-up violated data security rules that were instituted to comply with federal law and safeguard state secrets. As for the “if she’d known” portion of Podesta’s distortion, please direct your attention to this comprehensive Washington Post story chronicling the timeline of the scandal, which I summarized in a 12-point synopsis at Townhall in late March. Clinton and her chief of staff were alerted to the security risks from the earliest days of her tenure at State, dating back to a February 17, 2009 meeting at which the issue “came to a head,” according to the Post. The key passage:
After the meeting on Feb. 17 with Mills, security officials in the department crafted a memo about the risks. And among themselves, they expressed concern that other department employees would follow the “bad example” and seek to use insecure BlackBerrys themselves, emails show. As they worked on the memo, they were aware of a speech delivered by Joel F. Brenner, then chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on Feb. 24 at a hotel in Vienna, Va., a State Department document shows. Brenner urged his audience to consider what could have happened to them during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics. “Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport,” Brenner said. “And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.” At the time, Clinton had just returned from an official trip that took her to China and elsewhere in Asia. She was embarking on another foray to the Middle East and Europe. She took her BlackBerry with her.
In early March, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell delivered a memo with the subject line “Use of Blackberries in Mahogany Row.” “Our review reaffirms our belief that the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of Blackberries in the Mahogany Row [redacted] considerably outweigh the convenience their use can add,” the memo said. He emphasized: “Any unclassified Blackberry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving e-mails, and exploiting calendars.” Nine days later, Clinton told Boswell that she had read his memo and “gets it,” according to an email sent by a senior diplomatic security official. “Her attention was drawn to the sentence that indicates (Diplomatic Security) have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia,” the email said. But Clinton kept using her private BlackBerry — and the basement server.
She was made explicitly aware of the concerns. She personally acknowledged those concerns. Then she proceeded to deliberately ignore them and continue her reckless conduct for the next three-plus years, as she trafficked thousands of classified emails — including many dozens that contained secret, top secret and beyond top secret material — through her unsecure server. Furthermore, this issue flared up again two years later, when Sec. Clinton was specifically admonished that foreign hackers were attempting to penetrate US government secrets by targeting top officials’ — ta-da — personal email accounts. Even as she instructed her subordinates to scrupulously follow email regulations, and punished noncompliance, she disregarded them herself. The second point, flagged by our own John Sexton earlier, pertains to her misleading excuse-making on the issue of her belated and incomplete fulfillment of records requests. As you read this, recall that Mrs. Clinton and her top echelon of associates refused to cooperate with the recently-concluded IG investigation:
[Mrs. Clinton] did not turn over her email until nearly two years after leaving office, and only then when she was asked to do so by the State Department. But notice the timeline that Podesta has offered here. He is saying that Clinton believed her email had been “automatically captured” whenever she emailed someone on a government account. It wasn’t until “the Depatment contacted her in July 2014 that she learned this was not the case.” So before July 2014 she believed her email was being captured automatically. After July 2014 she knew that wasn’t true. So why was Hillary telling the media her email had been automatically captured in March 2015? According to Podesta, once the State Department contacted Clinton in July 2014, she realized that her email had not been automatically “captured and preserved.” That makes sense. If it had been captured and preserved, the State Department wouldn’t be contacting her looking for her emails. And yet, nine months later Clinton was telling the media that the “vast majority” of her emails “were captured and preserved immediately” because they went to other government accounts.
In other words, Podesta now says that Mrs. Clinton didn’t realize that the overwhelming bulk of her emails weren’t automatically archived until she was informed of that fact in mid-2014 (after which she and her attorneys turned over thousands of pages of emails, but not before unilaterally deleting 32,000 messages with no oversight, some of which have since been proven to be work-related). But if Hillary was finally disabused of her misconception in 2014, why did she keep leaning so heavily on that very same misleading talking point during her March 2015 press conference? One final note: While, we’re at it, it’s time to drive another stake through the heart of the inaccurate “Powell did it too” line. The Clinton campaign has lied at every turn as this scandal has unfolded, and it appears as though their previous lies are now complicating and undermining their current ones.
Editor’s Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at Townhall.com