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Friday, September 09, 2016

Best Thing I've Read Today

Rick Newman says that, despite all the right-wing claims about Hillary Clinton, there's no smoking gun:

Critics of the Clintons are convinced many dirty deeds remain undiscovered. They’re sure there must have been blatant quid pro quos in which wealthy donors to the Clinton Foundation got big favors in return from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Could be. But the facts, so far, don’t support that. What we do know reveals little more than the mundane realpolitik of government.

In 2010, for instance, the US government approved a takeover deal that directly benefited at least five prominent donors to the Clinton Foundation. Did they donate the money to curry favor with the Clintons? There’s no way to know, but it’s certainly possible. Would the approval have come if the men had no connection to the Clintons or their foundation? Probably. The State Department, headed by Clinton at the time, was only one of several agencies that had to approve the deal, and there’s no evidence Clinton lobbied other agency heads to sign off. There’s no smoking gun, and perhaps no gun. Meanwhile, businesspeople with friends in high office seek favors all the time. That’s why Washington, D.C., is home to 11,000 lobbyists.

Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State was an obvious effort to escape certain types of scrutiny (which, ironically, has completely backfired). It looks sneaky and is one of many reasons roughly two-thirds of Americans say they don’t trust her. But as far as we know, there was nothing illegal about this.

Clinton was obviously sloppy in the way she handled classified information. But not as sloppy as former CIA Director David Petraeus, who deliberately gave classified information to a woman writing a biography about him—who was also his extramarital lover. Now THAT was a scandal, with an actual smoking gun. Petraeus resigned.

As for State Department dissembling after the tragic Benghazi attack in 2012, in which four Americans died, it seems pretty clear Clinton and her top aides were trying to spin a terrible event as less terrible. Where could she have gotten that idea, except from every other government official, ever.

You could even argue that the extraordinary scrutiny of everything involving the Clintons is reassuring in a way, because it has turned up so little. Even Peter Schweizer, author of the damning portrait “Clinton Cash,” struggles to say what, exactly, the Clintons have done wrong. The smoking gun, he says, is a “pattern of behavior” in which the Clintons continually cash in on their connections. One might add obliviousness to their list of sins, since they seem unaware of their own sketchiness. Still, that’s not a crime.
Read Rick Newman's full piece here.