State Department: Hillary's ethics pledge did not apply to her top aides

A State Department spokesperson clarified Thursday that Hillary Clinton’s 2009 ethics pledge—to avoid conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation—did not extend to Clinton’s top aides at the Department.

Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau was asked about recently revealed emails that showed top members of Hillary Clinton’s staff doing favors for Clinton Foundation associates. “I’m not going to speak to specific emails, but I think you guys know State Department officials are regularly in touch with a wide variety of outside individuals and organizations including businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks,” Trudeau replied.

“You don’t feel like there was impropriety in the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department at the time?” the reporter asked. But Trudeau simply repeated her statement about the Department talking to a wide range of people.

At this point another reporter interjected, “Importantly, in this case, Secretary Clinton made a pledge that she would not personally or substantially, in any way, involve herself with the Clinton Foundation.” He continued, “So it’s not just any outside organization, it’s the specific organization that she said ahead of time she wouldn’t have contact with.” “Doesn’t this then seem to violate that pledge?” he asked.

“So, again, to reiterate, you know, Department officials are in touch with a wide range of individuals,” Trudeau replied. She added, “I’d note that former Secretary Clinton’s ethics agreement did not preclude other State Department officials from having contact with Clinton Foundation staff.”

Pause a moment and consider what a slimy, Clintonian admission this is, one that reveals how utterly hollow Clinton’s pledge was all along. Does it matter if Clinton vowed not to be involved with the family Foundation if her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and top aide, Huma Abedin, were free to carry on as they pleased? What kind of ethics pledge is this?

But we all know the answer to that question. It’s exactly the kind of ethical thinking we’ve come to expect from the Clintons. And, yes, if Hillary is elected you can expect this sort of thing to be the norm for the next four years.

Trudeau’s answer also still did not really respond to the initial question, i.e. is it a problem that state officials were doing favors for the Clinton Foundation? The AP’s Matt Lee tried once more to get Trudeau to answer that question. When she continued to repeat her talking point about speaking with outside organizations, Lee became exasperated.

“I’m sorry, am I not speaking English?” Lee snapped. “Is it coming across as a foreign…I’m not asking you if…no one is saying it’s not okay, or bad, for the department to get a broad variety of input from different people. The question is whether or not you’ve determined that there was nothing improper here.”

Here’s video of the exchange: