According to the Post:
There’s a new round of “revelations” concerning Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department today, and since it involves some people sending emails to other people, it gets wrapped up with that other story about Clinton. Are you ready for the shocking news, the scandalous details, the mind-blowing malfeasance? Well hold on to your hat, because here it is:
When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, many people wanted to speak with her.
Astonishing, I know.
Here’s the truth: every development in any story having to do with anything involving email and Hillary Clinton is going to get trumpeted on the front page as though it were scandalous, no matter what the substance of it actually is. . . .
. . . Judicial Watch, an organization that has been pursuing Clinton for many years, has released a trove of emails . . . that supposedly show how donors to the Clinton Foundation got special access, and presumably special favors, from Clinton while she was at State.
The only problem is that the emails in question reveal nothing of the sort. What they actually reveal is that a few foundation donors wanted access, but didn’t actually get it. . . .
. . . And that’s it. If there were anything more scandalous there, have no doubt that Judicial Watch would have brought it to reporters’ eager attention. So: Nobody got special favors and nobody got “access,” except for the second-highest-ranking official of an important U.S. ally . . .
Do powerful people, organizations, and countries donate money to the Clinton Foundation so they can rub shoulders with Bill Clinton? You bet they do. That’s the whole model: exploit Clinton’s celebrity to raise money which can then be used to make progress on important issues like climate change and global health.
Likewise, a healthy portion of Huma Abedin’s job as Clinton’s closest aide seems to have consisted of fielding requests from people who wanted to get her boss’s time and attention. That’s the way it is with many powerful people, in politics or any other realm. If we were able to see all the emails from the office of any senator, Democrat or Republican, we’d see the same thing: a steady stream of people asking, on their own behalf or someone else’s, for the senator’s time. Donors, businesspeople, advocates, constituents, they all want to talk to the person whose picture is on all the walls.
If we find cases where someone actually received some favor or consideration they didn’t deserve, then depending on the details it might actually be scandalous. But an email discussion of Bono’s wacky idea to send U2 concerts to the International Space Station is not a scandal.
☞ Read the whole story if you have time.
The media and the crew over at “Morning Joe” have gone nuts over this. Of the thousands of meetings the Secretary had, nearly 10% were with non-government officials! Some of them, old friends! (Do friends never come t0 visit? One a week would be 200 over four years.) About half of whom, perhaps admiring the work of the Foundation, support it!
It’s not a big story, as the Post explains, but Trump gets endless-loop airtime calling it CRIMINAL. She is the most corrupt politician ever — the worst secretary of state ever — he is immensely rich, knows more about ISIS than the generals, the country is a disaster only he can fix, she just lies and lies and lies and he saw three thousand Muslims cheering across the river as they watched the Towers come down — so of course whatever he says dominates the news.
And has done so for more than a year. We hang on his every word for guidance and inspiration. He tells it like it is. E.g.: “I have a great relationship with the blacks.” E.g.: “I’ve had a beautiful, flawless campaign.” E.g.: “This very expensive global warming bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temperatures.” E.g.: “Sorry, losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest. Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”
He literally said all that, just as Eisenhower or Truman or Lincoln — perhaps John Adams or Ronald Reagan or, well, any great world leader — might have.
So I read the Associated Press story that threw “Morning Joe” into the caffeineosphere.
Among those granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.
Horrible, no? The “Wall Street executive,” by the way, is a business school classmate of mine, a Republican. Hurrah for him for giving generously to the Clinton Global Initiative anyway.
The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009.
Did “Morning Joe” miss this sentence?
I’m not saying there can’t be thoughtful discussion of potential conflicts . . . of nuances and trade-offs. Is it better for the world not to have had Bill Clinton inspire 6,000 people to give $2 billion so there’d be no perceptual — or perhaps even real — conflicts? Should the foundation be shuttered now? Should Antonin Scalia not have spent a weekend duck hunting with Dick Cheney while matters of interest to Cheney were before the Court? Should Clarence Thomas’s wife not work for a right-wing think tank?
These are issues that could make for thoughtful discussion — but there was none of it yesterday on “Morning Joe.” Rather, the revelations above were a disaster for Clinton, beyond the pale, huge news — even though the AP reporter who wrote the story that was making them crazy said on their show that the AP had found no evidence of legal or ethical violations.
At the end of the day, do you know what I think? I think the person we elect as President, this year and any year — or, for that matter the person appointed secretary of state — will bring with him or her decades of friends and acquaintances, some of whom may be called upon for advice, some of whom may be called on to join the administration, and yet others of whom may ask to drop by to say hello or advocate an idea or ask for help.
It we choose our presidents and secretaries of state wisely, that large pool of talent and relationships will help them do a good job. And when inappropriate requests are made, they’ll be politely denied.
If inappropriate requests are granted, there’s reason for concern — perhaps even for a front-page headline.
But for Tuesday’s AP story to make people crazy?
Come on, Morning Joe: you’re better than this.
Quote of the Day
In 1992, more was spent on legal fees in California [$16.3 billion] than on auto repairs, funerals, tanning salons, one-hour photo finishing, videotape rentals, detectives and armored car guards, bug exterminators, laundry, haircuts, day care, shoe repairs and septic tank cleaning combined.~Census Bureau survey, as reported in the LA Times
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