Welcome to Joe Biden’s tryout for Secretary of State, which succeeds in demonstrating one key skill — keeping a straight face while telling whoppers in public. In an interview to be aired in its entirety Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, John Dickerson asks Biden to explain why Hillary Clinton hasn’t been forthcoming about her secret e-mail server. Biden tries to excuse it in two ways, both of which insult the intelligence of those viewing the exchange. First, Biden suggests that Hillary doesn’t understand the “gravity” of using a private, amateurish e-mail server for official State Department business. In the very next breath, Biden then excuses it because Hillary has “been so battered over the last thirty years.”
“Well, I think it’s a combination of a couple of things,” Biden replied. “One, I don’t think she understood the gravity of setting it up. She thought it was, ‘This is okay to do.’” Clinton has said she set up her private server for the sake of convenience, but she has since acknowledged that it was a mistake and that she would use the government system if she had to do it over again.
Biden further suggested that Clinton may be a bit battle-scarred from her long time in the public eye, and he said that may have contributed to her initial clumsy response to the email controversy.
“This woman has been so battered over 30 years,” Biden explained. “I think then when faced with, ‘This is a problem,’ I think instead of just cutting it and dealing with it immediately, there’s always an inclination to overthink it.”
Both of these excuses are blithering nonsense. The first argument gets debunked by Hillary’s own actions. She hid the existence of the e-mail server from the State Department, Congress, and courts handling FOIA demands until the Benghazi select committee finally uncovered it in August 2014. Even at that point, Hillary hid it from all but her closest aides. E-mails purloined by Wikileaks show her campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta got blindsided by the news of her exclusive use of the system for official business. Even four months later, allies like Neera Tanden found themselves dumbfounded by the scope of her secrecy and carelessness; Tanden called it “f****** insane,” and wanted the aides that went along with it “drawn and quartered.”
Had this just been a case of lacking understanding of the “gravity” of this choice, Hillary wouldn’t have hidden it from her close allies, nor would she have hidden the existence of the system from State. During her tenure, State made representations in court that Hillary had no e-mails responsive to FOIA filings, a lie for which Hillary is directly responsible. The intent was clearly to evade the Federal Records Act as well as constitutionally mandated oversight of executive branch agencies by Congress and the courts. She deliberately corrupted that process — and then, when caught, deleted over 33,000 e-mails and claimed them to be entirely personal.
Hillary understood the “gravity” of this choice. That’s why she kept it such a secret.
As for being “battered,” Biden and Hillary need to choose whether she’s a tough-as-nails politician up for the rigors of the presidency and all it entails, or a “battered woman” who can’t handle oversight and criticism and who doesn’t understand the “gravity” of public office. Her “battering” consists of criticisms of her actions and statements as a public figure, including a very, very similar scandal involving subpoenaed records from the Rose Law Firm that went mysteriously missing for two years before turning up in the White House long after their value to the Whitewater investigation had expired. If she’s not up to the job, Mr. Biden, then come clean and say that. Otherwise, criticism in politics does not excuse one from following the law, although apparently political connections seem to do so these days.
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