Update: I contacted the Office of the Inspector General at State and asked if they had any comment in response to Brian Fallon’s statements, specifically his raising the issue of possible anti-Clinton bias within the IG’s office. A spokesman gave me this simple response, “Partisan politics plays no role in our oversight work at OIG.”
[End of update]
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon, made the rounds yesterday to respond to the wave of stories about the State Department Inspector General’s report on her private email server. Fallon did an 11-minute interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier which is definitely worth a watch. However, it was Fallon’s appearance on CNN opposite Wolf Blitzer that produced the more interesting results. That’s largely because Blitzer spent six full minutes drilling down on a single question: Why didn’t Hillary cooperate with the State Department’s Inspector General?
It turns out Fallon did not have a good answer for that. In fact, as he was relentlessly pressed on it he retreated into the realm of conspiracy, raising “open questions” about the “appropriateness” of the IG’s review and saying the Clinton camp had unspoken concerns about the “timeline” of the investigation. What are those questions and concerns exactly? Fallon doesn’t really want to go full Alex Jones. He just wants to loosely suggest, without really saying, that there could be a conspiracy afoot:
Blitzer: The Inspector General is the top investigator at the State Department. This Inspector General was appointed by President Obama. She ran the State Department for four years. Don’t you think she would have wanted to cooperate with the Inspector General and get to the bottom of this? The Justice Department wouldn’t have minded if she would have cooperated with them.
Fallon: Well, Wolf, as I said we made the decision to prioritize the Justice Department review. That is going to be the last word on this matter.
Blitzer: Well, why couldn’t she do both?
Fallon: They are assessing the same set of facts.
Blitzer: But why couldn’t she answer questions from the State Department Inspector General and from the Justice Department when they call on her for some questions?
And right here is where Fallon runs out of answers. Now he begins puttering around some sort of nascent conspiracy theory about the timing of the State IG doing his job:
Fallon: Well, quite frankly Wolf, it was always uh, uh…of…uh concern to us and we never could quite make sense of why this review by the State Department IG was proceeding on its own timeline in a parallel fashion to the Justice Department review when it was the same office that suggested the Justice Department undertake its review.
To his credit Blitzer doesn’t let it go:
Blitzer: Here’s the problem Brian. She did the long news conference as all of us remember, answered a whole lot of questions about the email, the email server and all of that. If she had time for the news media and she’s gong to have time for the Justice Department why disrespect the Inspector General of the State Department, the department she ran for four years, and not at least go to a meeting with the Inspector General and answer a whole bunch of questions?
Fallon spends about 30 seconds filibustering about the Benghazi committee but Blitzer finally cuts him off with this:
Blitzer: It looks as if she’s got something to hide when she doesn’t even want to answer questions from the Inspector General of the State Department.
And with no where else to go Fallon takes it up a notch in suggesting there are “questions” and “reports” that call into question the neutrality of this IG’s review:
Fallon: No…look, Wolf, if she had anything to hide she wouldn’t be volunteering since last August to go face questions from the Justice Department where the stakes will be much higher than this State Department IG investigation. And as I said the appropriateness of the State Department IG’s office conducting this review at the same time when the Justice Department was already looking to this same issue is an open question. There were questions raised about this office during the course of its investigation. There were reports about individuals in this office coming forward and suggesting that there were hints of an anti-Clinton bias inside that office.
Asked directly by Blitzer, “Are you accusing the Inspector General of the State Department of having an anti-Clinton bias?” Fallon backs off and says the report puts those concerns to rest. So he’s twice raised the possibility that maybe something fishy was gong on at the IG’s office and (maybe?) that’s why Clinton and her aides refused to cooperate, but he won’t actually say so.
Blitzer really did the best he could here to nail Fallon to the wall and what he got was some wink, wink conspiracy theory nonsense that Fallon brought up and then abandoned as if he hadn’t been the one bringing it up. The phrase ‘slippery as an eel’ comes to mind.
The real problem here is that Fallon is taking the hard pitches from people like Blitzer and Baier while Hillary Clinton sits on the sidelines. She will no doubt go on another extended media hiatus, refusing to answer pointed questions from the media just as she refused to answer questions from the Inspector General.
These were Hillary’s decisions. Why won’t she step up and answer for them? As Blitzer said, it really looks as if she has something to hide.