Hillary Clinton emails are a complete mess; contradict nearly everything she’s claimed about Servergate

Hillary Clinton comes off as confused, myopic and downright clueless in a number of email exchanges that have made headlines thanks to recent inquiries from a number of news outlets.

In one exchange, brought to light after the AP released emails it obtained through a FOIA request, Clinton doesn’t know that she’s supposed to be talking with her adviser, Huma Abedin, about a Pakistani-Taliban over the remains of a crashed U.S. drone. Rather, Clinton believes she’s discussing interior furnishings.

Here’s the relevant portion of that exchange. It’s of note that Clinton refutes her own post-scandal assertions that she only used one mobile device while serving at the State Department:

hillary clinton email exchange with Huma Abedin

The AP isn’t the only news outfit to have recently uncovered some interesting tendencies Clinton exhibited, through her emails, while she served as Secretary of State. ProPublica and Gawker have published a pair of stories that delve into Clinton’s relationship with longtime ally Sidney Blumenthal, calling into question her assertion that the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a surprise reaction to an anti-Muslim video.

Only two weeks before the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, Clinton was receiving detailed intelligence on the situation on the ground in Libya. All of this was being communicated via her private email account. That account, according to congressional investigators, has not yielded any Benghazi-related emails from among the trove of “official” documents Clinton turned over to the State Department. Does that mean Clinton intentionally omitted exchanges like these before handing over her State Department emails to the Feds?

“One memo was sent on August 23, 2012, less than three weeks before Islamic militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi,” Gawker reported. “It cites ‘an extremely sensitive source’ who highlighted a string of bombings and kidnappings of foreign diplomats and aid workers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, suggesting they were the work of people loyal to late Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.

“While the memo doesn’t rise to the level of a warning about the safety of U.S. diplomats, it portrays a deteriorating security climate. Clinton noted a few days after the Benghazi attack, which left four dead and 10 people injured, that U.S. intelligence officials didn’t have advance knowledge of the threat.”

The significance of that observation is hard to emphasize too greatly. Scroll to the bottom of Gawker’s story and read the embedded memo from Aug. 23, 2012, which were taken “verbatim” from Libya intelligence memos obtained by ProPublica. There’s a lot of detail in the descriptions of the declining security in Libya — and no mention of a video.

McCarthy admits none of EPA’s pet issues is of do-or-die importance to the environment

It’s not clear how she served the Obama White House’s environmental agenda by saying so, but EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a reporter this week that there isn’t an issue among the agency’s pet policy initiatives that, if left untweaked, would lead to climate catastrophe.

At an event hosted by news company Politico, McCarthy fielded questions — among them one posed by the publication’s own Mike Allen, who asked the EPA chief whether approving completion of the Keystone XL pipeline would lay the foundation for an environmental disaster.

“No,” she answered. “I don’t think that any one issue is a disaster for the climate, nor do I think there is one solution for the climate change challenge that we have.”

Politico went with that for its headline — “EPA’s McCarthy: Keystone alone wouldn’t be climate disaster” — for a story on the event.

If anything, McCarthy’s remarks seem to be part of the agency’s multi-pronged approach to regulating climate change — or at least mankind’s responsibility for it — out of existence. But in defending the implicit idea that the EPA needs to be innovating ways to pervade American business life with regulations, she also offended the pipeline’s loudest complainers.

“Gina McCarthy would do well to look at comments published by her own EPA, warning that Keystone XL would accelerate development of the tar sands oil field in Canada, which in turn would mean game over for our climate,” said environmentalist Karthik Ganapathy in an email to Politico.

Questioning the motives behind Harry Reid’s ‘retirement’

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s decision not to seek a sixth term appears to have emboldened critics to speculate on the strange circumstances surrounding the timing of the Nevada Democrat’s so-called “retirement.”

Reid, who once led the Nevada Gaming Commission, hasn’t been seen in public this year without sporting some remarkable, visually distracting concealment for an injury he sustained sometime around New Year’s, when he claimed to have been injured in an exercise mishap. Three months into 2015, Reid has thrown in the towel, announcing that he will not run again for the Senate.

Now we’re starting to see stories like this one at PJ Media, where Michael Walsh gets blunt about Reid’s past appearing, from a certain perspective, to catch up with him:

It’s pretty obvious from the photographs that somebody beat the bejesus out of the soon-to-be-former senator from Nevada. And yet the national media has uncritically swallowed the cover story that “exercise equipment” was to blame for the loss of sight in the former majority leader’s right eye. Baloney. As far as I can tell, the piece of equipment allegedly behind the beatdown of Sen. Pat Geary has not been identified, but I can tell you from experience if the senator was using, say, a Soloflex machine this would be impossible: the weight straps simply come apart without any snapping or ricochet.

Back in January, the Powerline blog had intrepidly posited a similar conjecture. At the time, few others were willing to join in.

Fast forward to the present, where Reid appears greatly weakened — both physically and politically. Every conservative website seems to have a unique take in exacting, at this moment, its pound of flesh. You know it’s become a trend when progressive media redirects all the conspiracy theorists with an explainer.

On Monday, Judicial Watch entered the arena, offering a career overview of all the reason why Reid might be getting out while he still has eyes to see.

“You’d never know it from the mainstream media puff pieces of Harry Reid’s sudden retirement, but it was a long string of corruption scandals — including a recent one involving his attorney son — that drove the veteran Nevada senator to abruptly leave public office,” Judicial Watch opined:

For nearly a decade Judicial Watch has investigated and exposed Reid’s involvement in a multitude of transgressions and JW even warned the Senate Ethics Committee, but not surprisingly, no action was ever taken. On multiple occasions the Senate minority leader appeared on JW’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for his role in a number of political scandals that got more serious as his seniority and clout in Congress increased.

… As far back as 2006 Reid was in hot water for violating Senate rules by concealing a seven-figure payoff on a suspicious land deal orchestrated by a longtime friend known for political bribery and mob ties.

… In 2012 Reid made JW’s corrupt politician list because he was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal involving a Chinese “green energy” client of a Nevada law firm run by his son Rory.

… In 2013 Reid was again named to JW’s most corrupt politician list for taking more than $130,000 in illegal campaign funds from a shady donor, Harvey Whittemore, who eventually went to jail.

… More recently Reid abused his authority to pressure the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite a $115 million foreign investor visa deal critical to his son’s casino client.

Here’s a little backstory on the Rory Reid scandal, which was first reported by Nevada blogger Jon Ralston.

While none of this leads back to a definite motive, JW is strongly suggesting that it all adds up to one. That’s an entertaining bit of speculation, but Reid’s position and connections (both friendly and less so) may ensure he never publicly answers such a question.

Still, it’s hard not to accept the notion that, if there were indeed a fire, Reid’s announced “retirement” — more than a year before his seat comes open again — would be the best way to snuff it out.

Leaked document reveals ‘missing’ military gear ended up for sale on Craigslist, eBay

It’s not exactly Fast and Furious 2.0, but it’s still a sterling example of how incompetence, apathy and greed breed corruption in government. The Pentagon keeps losing track of explosives-detecting gear, and that gear keeps popping up for private sale on eBay.

The Intercept reported last week that the Department of Defense is in the process of attempting to track down “sensitive equipment” designed to detect roadside bombs, but the department’s uncertain how much of it has gone missing. What DOD has been able to find has turned up for sale on “the global market” through the Internet, including mainstream sites such as eBay and Craigslist.

Here’s how The Intercept described the missing tech:

The missing equipment includes thermal optic imaging and night vision devices that were supplied to U.S. forces to help locate improvised explosive devices, the leading killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as related threats. “Since 2009, some of this advanced hardware has been reported as missing and is actively being sold or discussed on the global market on a variety of websites,” says an intelligence brief by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service and its Multiple Threat Alert Center.

The report cites a leaked document from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which highlights the equipment’s chain of custody through the Department of Defense until it turned up gone. Judging from the military’s report, there’s not a clear picture of how much of this stuff even remains in the DOD’s possession.

“In all, more than 32,000 pieces of equipment were issued,” the leaked report states. “Some kits are still in use, making it difficult to compile a precise inventory of what was issued and what might be missing. Items in the deployment kits are NOT for civilian use and are controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) 22 CFR 120-130 and are Commerce Department List-controlled.”

The document further indicates that this has been occurring at least as far back as 2009. In addition to mainstream reseller sites like eBay, the gear has also appeared on sites that cater to more informed buyers: armslist.com, gunbroker.com, calguns.net, ar15.com and more. On those sites, the items “have been marketed as sporting goods, hunting equipment, bird-watching equipment and camping supplies.”

As TechDirt noted last week, some resellers appear to be under the impression that they obtained the gear through legitimate transactions they believe are covered under their federal firearms licenses (FFLs). If that’s the case, that suggests the gear could be changing hands more than once on its way to the open market — and that the buyers may be far better informed about what they’re buying (and why) than the sellers.

Or, as TechDirt put it:

So, the Department of Defense may do several things well, but ensuring sensitive/powerful military gear remains in its control — rather than in the hands of enemies or eBay users — isn’t one of them.”

Ouch.

N.C. bill could give citizen panels subpoena power over police

A reform measure introduced in the North Carolina Legislature could, if passed, establish civilian review boards to oversee complaint cases against municipal police officers, granting the boards subpoena power and the authority to discipline and even to fire.

House Bill 193, sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Rodney Moore, attempts to address issues of profiling and excessive use of force, as well as provide a citizen-guided recourse for alleged abuses. It currently has the support only of Democratic legislators, and it has a long way to go before having a shot at becoming law.

A number of Durham, North Carolina, residents are reportedly unhappy with police oversight in the wake of several police shootings over the past year. Establishment efforts to investigate those incidents left them frustrated, spurring a state-level solution in the form of HB 193.

Here’s more from IndyWeek:

Supporters of the system believe the process properly leaves investigations to trained detectives; critics have long argued that the review board is little more than a rubber stamp. Indeed, says board chairman DeWarren Langley, since he began serving in 2009, there’s never been an instance when the board sided with the complainants over the cops.

… The main thrust addresses racial profiling, but wedged in the bill’s body is a section that bolsters civilian review board authority. And for some Durham officials, that section represents the potential for a course correction.

“The bill would actually give some teeth to the review board,” says City Councilman Eddie Davis. “Particularly in light of things going on across the country — knock on wood, we haven’t had them here — the board certainly ought to be able to investigate things on their own, other than just looking over the shoulder of the police’s internal affairs.”

One reason for the bill’s lack of GOP support may be its overarching attempt to assuage the national mood surrounding police incidents that ended in the deaths of black people. “With a national backdrop of officer-involved killings and ensuing tumult in places like Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, the bill is an attempt to restore trust between the police and minority communities,” Durham-based IndyWeek observes.

Sounds like a bill that may be trying to do too much at once, to placate the loudest voices. But insofar as it aims to designate real power to a citizen-guided oversight entity instead of ceding it to an internal review process that too often protects bad cops from within a corrupt buddy system, the law appears at first glance to offer something better than what’s available to North Carolinians at the moment.

Then again, state-level politics are best understood by the nearest observers. Any North Carolina residents want to weigh in in the comments section?

Hillary backers sweat the campaign baggage that is Bill Clinton

If it’s true that she’s about as tethered by baggage as a potential presidential candidate can possibly be, then Hillary Clinton’s biggest clunker — her hoary, barnacled steamer trunk, so to speak — is her political life partner and husband, Bill.

It’s unknown how she feels about having all that extra weight to carry around, but some of her supporters ahead of a possible 2016 presidential run reportedly view the nation’s 42nd president as a fixture in Hillary’s political constellation that, at least for now, should be neither seen nor heard — especially on the day of her anticipated announcement.

The degree of husband Bill’s visibility is a topic of strategic debate among Hillary’s backers, a “source of disagreement,” according to Politico.

“Everyone knows who her family is, she doesn’t have to introduce them to the public,” a Democratic Party operative told the news outlet. “It should just be her. It should be her moment and Bill could overshadow her announcement and remind people of unnecessary baggage.”

While that may be a fair point, it’s not as though Bill represents Hillary’s most recent piece of “baggage.” The former secretary of state’s popularity has taken a massive hit ever since The New York Times reported that she had secreted the entirety of her State Department email correspondence on a server the government couldn’t — and still can’t — touch.

That story broke only days after The Washington Post reported that the Clinton family’s megacharity, the Clinton Foundation, had continued to receive massive cash donations from foreign governments in direct violation of Hillary’s ethics agreement with the Obama administration, which outlined what extracurricular activities she could and could not do while serving as secretary of state.

More revelations have followed, and with them the tedium that accompanies the life span of a maturing Clinton scandal. In the end, that tedium may be her biggest ally, as the consumers of the mainstream media’s infotainment products tune out tediously presented (if they’re presented at all) reports of her many conflicts of interest and bookish legal violations.

That has to be a relief for Clinton, since she blew her best line of dismissal — “What difference, at this point… does it make?” — on a scandal she created while still serving at her last government job. Catchphrases like that only come around about as often as do super-sweet real estate deals.

Things a female reporter can’t write about Hillary Clinton without being accused of sexism

On Wednesday, a female journalist for The New York Times used her Twitter account to share an exchange she’d had with members of “HRC Super Volunteers,” a group of Hillary Clinton supporters seeking to take down members of the press who besmirch the former first lady for being, well, a lady.

NYT reporter Amy Chozick revealed to denizens of Twitter that, in order to placate the Hillary backers’ suspicions that she and other member of the media aren’t abject sexists, reporters were being warned not to use sexist language when describing Clinton in their reports.

The HRC Super Volunteers were helpfully specific in this respect, offering “sexist” descriptive words that would place reporters on their hit list.

What are they?

  • Secretive
  • Polarizing
  • Calculating
  • Ambitious
  • Disingenuous
  • Insincere
  • Inevitable
  • Entitled
  • Overconfident
  • Will do anything to win
  • Represents the past
  • Out of touch

Those are all the words and phrases that Chozick listed, though the HRC Super Volunteers posse is adamant that those aren’t all of them.

The group asserts that words like “ambitious” and “polarizing” amount to nothing more than coded sexist language, subliminally suggesting that these qualities — when exhibited by a woman (or at least by Clinton) — carry negative connotations.

“You are on notice that we will be watching, reading, listening and protesting coded sexism,” the group reportedly told Chozick.

So far, it appears that the volunteers’ main weapon in fighting back against malignant Hillary-smearing is limited to a pre-searched Google results page that lists media articles in which such language has so far been used.

But if the Twitter responses to the group’s various pronouncements are any indication, they may be fighting a steep uphill battle.

Senators launch website for people to air their grievances over burdensome government regulations

A pair of senators is leading a bipartisan plan that aims to give a voice — albeit a small one — to property owners, small-business operators and anyone else who’s come up against federal regulations that appear to exist only to hamper economic growth and individual freedom.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) have introduced the #CutRedTape Initiative, anchored by a website that solicits feedback from Americans frustrated by regulations that inhibit their businesses and their liberties.

Heitkamp and Lankford, both members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, came up with the initiative after realizing that individuals don’t have an easy-to-identify recourse where they can express their concerns over regulations that needlessly complicate or obstruct their ambitions.

At a Committee hearing last week, Lankford said he learned from the White House Office of Management and Budget that people typically must take up their regulatory concerns with the agency that promulgates the rule in question. “Well, most individuals don’t know what agency even put that regulation out. People don’t get up every morning and read the Federal Register,” Lankford told The Hill.

“I think so much of what we have right now with America being concerned about their government is that their government doesn’t seem to listen to them, and what we really want to do is create a venue and an avenue for government to listen to Main Street,” Heitkamp explained at a press conference Thursday announcing the initiative.

While the idea is certainly fine, the site doesn’t promise any recourse beyond allowing people to complain. But the senators argue that it still gives lawmakers a resource from which to cull information about which regulations receive the most frequent or vehement criticism.

“The #CutRedTape portal is essential in understanding how regulations affect every day Americans and their businesses, and to fulfilling the Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the federal government,” the senators state on the website. “The Subcommittee’s goal is to share the stories we get with the relevant federal agencies, as well as examine the stories for trends and ideas that could improve the regulatory process.”

Federal employees owe a ton in back taxes; no one’s getting fired

It seems that every year we run a story or two about how corrupt the IRS is, about how hard it is to get fired from your federal job if you’re delinquent on your tax payments or about how easy it is to be re-hired into the IRS if you’ve been dismissed for disciplinary reasons — even those involving legal infractions.

There’s no reason to stop anytime soon: The IRS released its yearly delinquency report this week, revealing that, by the government’s own calculation, more than 100,000 federal employees did not pay part or all of their federal income taxes last year.

The number of delinquent employees in the report marks a historic high. Nearly 4 percent (3.99 percent to be precise) of current civilian employees in the federal government are in arrears, withholding $1.14 billion in unpaid taxes from the government. Among categories of Americans who receive direct compensation from the federal government, only retired military veterans have a higher delinquency rate (4.04 percent).

Among the government’s civilian employees are congressional staffers. As the Washington Examiner noted Wednesday, 500 House staffers are delinquent on their taxes, owing a combined $6.7 million to the IRS.

Read the full IRS report here.

Global warming scare tactics aren’t working

Americans are far more concerned about drinking polluted water than they are about policy initiatives to combat global warming and/or climate change, deforestation and species extinction — and they’re steadily losing interest in environmental frights of every stripe.

That’s according to the most recent iteration of Gallup’s annual Environment survey, which finds concern over “global warming” or “climate change” trailing concern over every other major environmental policy issue.

The survey found that 32 percent of Americans surveyed indicated a “great deal” of concern over the threat of “global warming or climate change,” down from 34 percent last year. Across five other categories ranging from “pollution of drinking water” to “the loss of tropical rain forests,” the percentage of Americans who worry a “great deal” has declined across the board since the 2014 survey:

gallup_enviroUnsurprisingly, people appear to care more about environmental issues that have a demonstrable and immediate impact on their quality of life — what Gallup describes as “proximate threats” — far more than hypothetical scenarios of long-term environmental decline and abstract projections.

“Despite ups and downs from year to year in the percentage worried about the various issues, the rank order of the environmental problems has remained fairly consistent over the decades,” the survey summary states. “Americans express greater concern over more proximate threats — including pollution of drinking water, as well as pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and air pollution — than they do about longer-term threats such as global warming, the loss of rain forests, and plant and animal extinction.”

Gallup doesn’t attempt to stir the pot when it comes to policy initiatives, but it does make a general observation about the disconnect between the small number of fervid environmentalists advancing a far-reaching U.S. policy and the much greater number of workaday Americans who take a more pragmatic view of environmental risks.

The primary focus of the environmental movement has shifted toward long-term threats like global warming — issues about which Americans tend to worry less than about more immediate threats like pollution. Importantly, even as global warming has received greater attention as an environmental problem from politicians and the media in recent years, Americans’ worry about it is no higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1989.

A final factor is the politicization of environmental issues. This is exemplified by the sharp political polarization in views of global warming.

Republicans are predictably less concerned overall about perceived threats to the environment than are Democrats.

“[A]lthough concern about environmental issues is lower among both Republicans and Democrats since 2000, it is down more among Republicans,” Gallup reports. “Across the six issues measured in 2000 and 2015, the percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who worry ‘a great deal’ is down an average of 20 percentage points, compared with an average 10-point decline for Democrats and Democratic leaners.”

Read more on Gallup’s 2015 Environment survey here.

To get Hillary Clinton’s ear, get out your checkbook for the Clinton Foundation

The scandal over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s violation of the White House’s conflict of interest agreement concerning her ties to the Clinton Foundation is trickling upward.

in late February, The Washington Post broke a story revealing the Clinton Foundation’s ties to foreign governments that lobbied Clinton’s State Department while giving millions to the Clinton Foundation. Not content to be outdone by The Post, The New York Times took a peek this week into the ways the family grants access to well-funded influence seekers.

In an article that plumbs some of the Clinton’s known points of access — most of which lead to Goldman Sachs and similar places where money lives, The Times introduces readers to Mr. Chelsea Clinton:

Since marrying Chelsea Clinton five years ago, Marc Mezvinsky, a money manager, appears to have settled into his life as Bill and Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law.

… Beyond the glamour, being part of the Clinton family has provided Mr. Mezvinsky with another perk: access to wealthy investors with ties to the Clintons.

When Mr. Mezvinsky and his partners began raising money in 2011 for a new hedge fund firm, Eaglevale Partners, a number of investors in the firm were longtime supporters of the Clintons, according to interviews and financial documents reviewed by The New York Times. Tens of millions of dollars raised by Eaglevale can be attributed to investors with some relationship or link to the Clintons.

The investors include hedge fund managers like Marc Lasry and James Leitner; an overseas money management firm connected to the Rothschild family; and people from Goldman Sachs, including the chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein. Some of the investors in Eaglevale have contributed campaign money to the former president and Mrs. Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president again in 2016. Some have also contributed to the family’s foundation.

Not Earth-shattering stuff, perhaps; similar passages could be written about America’s other plutocratic families, who in each generation shuffle a new scion to the political front lines.

But then the Times mentions this:

A person briefed on the matter and close to the firm said the amount of investor money recruited by Mr. Mezvinsky is not large, amounting to less than 10 percent of the firm’s total outside capital. Clinton supporters also say there are more direct ways to cultivate favor with the family, such as giving to the foundation, where Chelsea Clinton is vice chairwoman, than by investing with a hedge fund that her husband co-founded.

That passage strongly suggests that, while Goldman Sachs money may be great, it’s still smaller and more encumbering than the kind of money the Clinton Foundation has been able to get from corporate titans and, of course, foreign governments. Why else would the Clintons pay more attention to their megacharity’s megadonors than to those who prime Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions in ways that invite attention from the Federal Elections Commission?

The Clinton Foundation’s standard line is that no one should judge the motives of people (and nations — many of them notorious civil liberties abusers) who seek to do good by giving money to causes that know how to mobilize such efforts. “Where our supporters choose to invest is obviously their personal prerogative and has nothing to do with the foundation in any respect,” a spokesman told The Times.

In other words, big donations to the Clinton Foundation don’t assure the donors of anything but good feelings, good karma.

But not even the Clintons’ own supporters believe that. It’s so manifestly false, in fact, that no of them saw any reason to lie about it to The New York Times.

House bill aims to repeal the Patriot Act

A House bill that would fundamentally disassemble the Patriot Act has begun its course through the House, thanks to a bipartisan duo calling for an end to “dragnet surveillance” in the United States.

Introduced Tuesday by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), the Surveillance State Repeal Act would, as its name suggests, repeal the Patriot Act along with the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The bill would also prohibit the government from compelling Internet service providers to secretly permit access to their data streams through the issuance of secret warrants, a practice currently enabled by 2008 revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

“The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” Pocan said via a release on his congressional website. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”

While the bill has little chance of making it to President Obama’s desk so he can veto it, its several features may serve as a parts bin for reform efforts as the Patriot Act comes due for another round of reauthorizations in June.

“[A]dvocates might be hoping that their firm opposition to government spying will seem more attractive in coming weeks, as lawmakers race to beat a June 1 deadline for reauthorizing portions of the Patriot Act,” The Hill reported Tuesday.

“Reformers have eyed that deadline as their last best chance for reforming some controversial NSA programs, after an effort failed in the Senate last year.”

DOJ asks court to deny request to subpoena Hillary Clinton’s emails

The Department of Justice is defending former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against a subpoena request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for thousands of emails exchanged on her privately owned server. Why, according to the DOJ, aren’t those emails subject to FOIA requests?

Because there’s no reason to believe the emails she deleted from her dedicated work account were work-related… because Clinton herself has given her assurance that that is the case.

The motion to subpoena Clinton’s emails, filed as a FOIA request by Freedom Watch, stems from Clinton’s assertion that she performed her own due diligence instead of abiding by White House requirements when she authorized the deletion of thousands of allegedly private emails from her home-based computer server after leaving the State Department.

The vast majority, if not the entirety, of her State Department email — along with an unknown proportion of her “private” email activity — appears to have been conducted through a server Clinton had installed in her New York home, without any authorization or oversight from the Obama administration.

The DOJ filed a brief last week arguing that Clinton has given the government no reason to suspect that she deleted emails that contain information related to her job, and that any suspicion to the contrary is “sheer speculation.” DOJ attorneys requested the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. circuit to deny Freedom Watch’s request.

From the DOJ’s brief, filed March 19:

Such action is unnecessary and inappropriate under FOIA. The Department of State has indicated that it has received 55,000 pages of documents from former Secretary Clinton and that it will review the collection for public release. Once that process is completed, the State Department will search those documents to determine whether any are responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request here. Plaintiff provides no basis, beyond sheer speculation, to believe that former Secretary Clinton withheld any work-related emails from those provided to the Department of State. Moreover, FOIA creates no obligation for an agency to search for and produce records that it does not possess and control.

This claim ignores, perhaps willfully, the obvious fact that none of this applies in Clinton’s case, because she contravened federal law by hosting official email on a server for which the government had no powers in the first place.

Everything Clinton says about what she’s done with the emails she generated while secretary of state can only be taken at face value, which in this case the DOJ appears eager to do.

The push is on to give a third-party candidate a seat at the presidential debate table

A movement joined by a small group of lawmakers and federal government officials aims to guarantee the 2016 presidential debates feature more than the standard two-party fare. But doing so will require a rule change from the group that organizes the debates.

Hence the name of the organization behind the effort: Change the Rule. Citing the basic truth that “there is nothing in the constitution of the United States, or in American law or history that requires that our President be from one of two parties,” the group is hoping to persuade the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to alter its participation requirements.

Currently, the CPD will not allow a candidate outside the two major parties to take part in a debate unless the candidate has managed to poll at an average of 15 percent in five polls taken days before the debates are held.

Change the Rule says that gives the two major parties an immense advantage, which of course is by design.

“The current rule… serves only the interests of the Democratic and Republican parties in maintaining their duopoly,” the group asserts in a letter meant to be adopted by its supporters. “It creates a barrier to entry into the debates that since 1960 no American running outside the primaries has been able to overcome.”

Here’s more from Change the Rule’s website:

The Change the Rule Initiative reflects and responds to the views of a growing majority of Americans, who believe that with greater choice and competition in our politics we can move beyond the gridlock that’s paralyzing our political system, weakening our governance and diminishing our country’s prosperity and strength.

… [M]ore than two-thirds of Americans do not believe that the independent candidate they would prefer can ever emerge because our election system is rigged to favor Democratic and Republican incumbents, and unfortunately, they are right.

Although the CPD can change its qualifying rule “instantly,” as Change the Rule notes, it has been aloof from previous efforts to engage any discussion of doing so. The group sent private letters to CPD members earlier this year asking for the change, but came away nonplussed.

“The group says the terse response it received back — a two-sentence letter expressing gratitude for the input — has provoked them to take the fight public and take aim at the CPD,” The Hill reports.

Change the Rule is led by an assortment of current and former CEOs, governors and lawmakers from both political parties; a full listing can be found at the bottom of their jointly signed letter.

House approves bill requiring EPA to share the science that underpins its policies

The House of Representatives has passed a bill intended to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to disclose the scientific research it uses to justify changes in its regulatory policies.

The bill passed Wednesday on a mostly partisan 241-175 vote, with its Republican supporters claiming the measure as the first step toward a win for transparency between the EPA and the American people. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the legislation will prevent the EPA from using “secret science” to underpin controversial rules changes.

“Right now, the EPA is trying to impose harmful regulations based on scientific studies that no one can check — not the public, not independent scientists, not even the United States Congress,” McCarthy said. “It’s called ‘secret science’ and it’s wrong.”

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) said the bill actually asks very little of the EPA, considering real people typically have to justify their decisions when accountability is involved.

“Is it too much to ask the EPA to follow the same guidelines I give my children in elementary school? Show your work,” he said.

According to The Hill, the Obama administration has indicated it would likely veto the “secret science” bill, as well as a separate EPA-related measure the House passed on Tuesday.

That bill which passed on a 236-181 vote, aims to ban lobbyists from serving as appointees on the EPA Science Advisory Board.

Cruz introduces ‘American Energy Renaissance’ bill

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) have introduced a new bill aimed at taking American energy policy in a direction completely opposite that of the Obama administration, a move that may generate plenty of debate in Congress — yet will likely never pass into law so long as Obama remains in office.

The so-called “American Energy Renaissance Act” isn’t just a stunt bill, though — it’s more of a blueprint for what the free-market contingent in Congress hopes to accomplish as Obama’s presidency winds down. At 109 pages in length, the bill contains 16 major proposals that either codify disputed policy measures or change the law outright.

The goal, as Cruz said on his Senate Web page, is to “harness our nation’s energy resources and remove federal impediments to energy exploration, development and trade” and “reduce American dependence on unfriendly nations for our energy needs, and ensure the United States will be able to exert its influence and support its allies around the world.”

The bill would open federal lands to resource exploration and hand the regulation of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to the states. It would also “Streamline” the permitting process for improving or constructing refineries and clear the Keystone XL pipeline for private-sector construction.

That just scratches the surface. Here’s a bullet-point list of the bill’s proposals:

  • Leave regulation of hydraulic fracturing in state hands. Hydraulic fracturing is driving the American Energy Renaissance. States have proven they can oversee hydraulic fracturing in a responsible, safe manner, and they should be allowed to continue. The American Energy Renaissance cannot thrive if the federal government disrupts this effective framework and impedes the jobs and economic growth hydraulic fracturing is already providing.
  • Streamline the permitting process for upgrading existing and building new refineries. The operating capacity of U.S. refineries has remained essentially stagnant for three decades. In order for the American Energy Renaissance to reach its full potential, barriers must be removed from expanding or constructing new refineries in the United States and the private sector jobs they will create.
  • Phase out and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over five years. The RFS has proven unworkable and costly. Its mandate that an increasing percentage of renewable biofuels be blended into gasoline and diesel each year ignores the reality there are insufficient amounts of some biofuels to meet the standard. It imposes significant costs, and offers few, if any, benefits. The RFS should be phased out so producers and refiners can focus on maximizing domestic resource potential.
  • Immediately approve and allow the private sector to build the Keystone pipeline. According to the U.S. State Department, constructing the Keystone XL pipeline could result in 42,000 jobs. Keystone has undergone five environmental reviews since its initial application in 2008, and none has found a significant negative impact on the environment. President Obama’s former Energy Secretary admitted that the decision as whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a political one, and not a decision founded in science.
    • Remove barriers to developing and approving additional national pipelines and cross-border energy infrastructure. The Keystone saga imposed by the federal government demonstrates the need to reform the process of approving oil and natural gas pipelines, as well as electric transmission lines, between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Exclude greenhouse gases from regulation by the EPA and other federal agencies. Proposals to regulate greenhouse gases are very expensive and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs. The authority to regulate such gases should only occur with explicit authority from Congress.
  • Stop certain EPA regulations that will adversely impact coal and electric power plants. In 2008, President Obama promised to bankrupt coal. As of October 2014, there were already 381 coal units closed or closing in 36 states because of EPA policies. These 381 closures amount to a total of more than 60,100 megawatts of electricity generation no longer being available. Job losses as a result of coal units being affected by EPA regulations could amount to more than 50,000 direct jobs in the coal, utility, and rail industries, and an indirect job loss figure exceeding 250,000.
  • Require Congress to approve and the President to sign EPA regulations that will have a negative job impact, rather than allowing them to hide behind bureaucrats who are assumed to be responsible for them now. Certain planned and proposed EPA regulations could cost more than 2 million jobs. Increasing regulatory restrictions more broadly could cost nearly 2.8 million jobs over the next decade.
  • Expand energy development on federal lands by providing states the option of leasing, permitting and regulating energy resources (oil and gas, wind and solar) on federal lands within their borders. Onshore and offshore federal land lands have about 43 percent of America’s proven oil reserves and 25 percent of natural gas reserves, but not all of the land is available for energy development. Leasing and producing oil and natural gas on federal land could create more than 1 million jobs.
    • For those states opting not to self-regulate, federal leasing, permitting, and regulating must be reformed by:
      • Streamlining permitting and expanding development on federal lands by requiring decisions regarding drilling permit applications to be made within 30 days (which can be extended), requiring an explanation for any denial, and deeming applications to be approved if no decision has been made within 60 days, unless there are existing incomplete environmental reviews.
      • Improving certainty in the leasing and development process by instituting a presumption that certain land will be leased and by prohibiting the government from withdrawing a lease for any energy project, unless there is a violation of terms of the lease.
  • Expand energy development in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and on Indian Lands. The mean estimate for conventional oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is 895 million barrels of oil and 52.8 trillion cubic feet of gas. West of the Mississippi River, Indian reservations contain almost 30 percent of the nation’s coal reserves, 50 percent of potential uranium reserves, and 20 percent of known oil and gas reserves.
  • Open up the Coastal Plain of Alaska (ANWR) for development. ANWR consists of 19 million acres in northeast Alaska. Its 1.5-million-acre Coastal Plain is viewed as a promising onshore oil prospect with potentially 7 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.
  • Expand the offshore areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OSC) available for development. Despite the potential for significant oil and gas development off the coasts of the United States, the Obama Administration has severely limited access to such resources by essentially prohibiting energy exploration and development off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
  • Streamline the permitting process for additional offshore exploration. Regulatory barriers to obtain leases and permits to explore and develop offshore areas of the Outer Continental Shelf should be removed by requiring lease sales within 180 days of enactment of the legislation and every 270 days thereafter, and requiring approval or disapproval of drilling permits no later than 20 days after an application is submitted.
  • Expand LNG exports by facilitating permits. As of March 3, 2015, the Dept. of Energy had approved only nine export permits to non-Free Trade Agreement countries. More than twenty applications are currently pending.
  • End the crude oil export ban. Last year, U.S. crude oil production increased 27 percent but many American refineries cannot handle the additional crude for technical and capacity reasons. The United States is missing out on export opportunities that could produce good paying private sector jobs in the United States.
  • Prevent excessively broad environmental review of coal export terminals. As the EPA makes it harder to use coal as a source of energy for electricity in the United States, there are opportunities to export coal to other nations. Removing excessive environmental reviews can help promote coal exports that will help keep coal jobs in the United States.
  • Direct all additional revenues generated by exploration and drilling on federal lands (excluding the share allocated to the states) exclusively to national debt reduction. The U.S. national debt was approximately $18.2 trillion in December 2014. As we free the development of U.S. natural resources to spur economic and job growth, we should prevent revenues from being used to further expand government programs and instead use it to free taxpayers from the debt burden that hampers the nation’s incredible potential.

“We need to come together in a bipartisan manner to say we support jobs, we support economic growth, and we support standing united alongside our friends and allies in defense of freedom,” Cruz wrote. “This legislation is a win-win. The only thing the federal government needs to do is get out of the way and let Americans do what they do best: dream, innovate, and prosper.”

Defend yourself the Joe Biden way; get a criminal record

A Washington state man faces up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine following his conviction for obstructing a police officer — a charge that stemmed from an incident in which he admitted to scaring off a group of burglars by following the vice president’s advice to fire warning shots into the air.

Jeffrey Barton, a 53-year-old resident of Clark County, Washington, was convicted by a jury for interfering with police following an incident in which he punched one of the would-be thieves and fired three warning blasts from his shotgun. Police said Barton’s handling of the incident was inappropriate, and that he made matters worse by growing angry with police at the scene after they arrived and told him to put his hands in the air.

Following his conviction, though, Barton said the whole prosecution had really been conducted as a vehicle for targeting his 2nd Amendment rights, adding that he intends to move away from Clark County once he has fulfilled his sentencing requirements.

“You folks have a good time in Clark County because once all that’s said and done, I’m out of here,” Barton said. “That’s what you get for exercising my Second Amendment rights and protecting my family.” According to The Columbian, Barton and his wife have lived in Clark County for 25 years.

Barton made news at the time of arrest in 2013, noting the irony in facing prosecution for following the advice of the nation’s vice president.

In the middle of an unsuccessful, Democratic-led push for federal gun control legislation, Biden had trumpeted the use of a shotgun as all the crime deterrence (to say nothing of defense against government tyranny) that any law-abiding citizen should need.

“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun,” Biden had said, explaining that he had advised his wife: “Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, put [up] that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.”

EPA eyes backyard barbecue grills as unhealthy polluters

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s current push to hand out $15,000 grants to anybody with a heavy hand, the University of California-Riverside will benefit from government backing to develop a way to reduce emissions from backyard barbecue grills.

According to the agency’s grant summary, EPA will hand UC-Riverside the funds in order to “perform research and develop preventative technology that will reduce fine particulate emissions (PM2.5) from residential barbecues.” If the outcome of the research is scalable, it will indicate a “potential for global application.”

How’s that supposed to work? According to the proposal, by modifying current grill designs with a grease-catching tray to reduce “the amount of grease that is volatilized via direct contact with an open flame,” and by equipping grills with a powered “secondary air filtration system” that uses automation or the grill operator’s own hand power to “mitigate the remaining aerosol and particulate matter formed.”

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that — you can read the proposal in greater detail here — but the bottom line, according to a Republican lawmaker from Missouri who says he’s worried about the idea taking hold nationwide, is more government encroachment into personal behavior on private property.

“The idea that the EPA wants to find their way into our backyards, where we’re congregating with our neighbors, having a good time, on the Fourth of July, barbecuing pork steak or hamburgers, is ridiculous and it’s emblematic of agency that’s sort of out of control,” Missouri State Sen. Eric Schmitt told Fox 2 St. Louis. Schmitt also staged a Twitter-based protest: #porksteakrebellion, a PR campaign encouraging people in the Show-Me State to go outside and grill to their hearts’ content.

Publicity aside, the EPA is on a roll this month with its nickel-and-dime strategy. It recently awarded a separate $15,000 grant to the University of Tulsa for a research program intended to goad hotel guests into “modifying their behavior” by monitoring how much hot water they use while showering.

Ask a cop to put a scare into your kid; get your kid taken away

From the this-is-what-happens-when-you-call-the-cops files: A New York mom who wanted to inculcate a healthy fear of bad behavior (and its consequences) in her young son called the police to give him a talking-to about stealing.

The cops came alright. By the time they left, 29-year-old Tyeesha Mobley had been placed in handcuffs, her two children had been removed from the home, and she allegedly received a helpful parting admonishment from the police: “You black bitches don’t know how to take care of your kids.”

Mobley, who lives in the Bronx with her two sons (4-year-old Keyshawn and 9-year-old Tyleke), called 911 in April of last year after suspecting Tyleke had taken $10 from her purse. She hoped the police would come and talk to her son about the real-world consequences of stealing.

Instead, according to DNAinfo New York, the Mobleys got a lesson in the real-world consequences of inviting the police to participate in the resolving of a family matter.

From DNAinfo New York:

A dispatcher sent four officers, who met her, Tyleke, and her 4-year-old son, Keyshawn, at a gas station near their Morrisania apartment, the lawsuit says.

Initially, the interaction with officers was light-hearted, according to a transcript of Mobley’s account during a October 2014 preliminary hearing with the city over her then-plans to sue the city.

“They started asking Tyleke what did he take,” Mobley said at the hearing. “He told them. And about three officers was joking around with him, telling him, ‘You can’t be stealing, you’ll wind up going in the police car.’”

But a fourth officer wasn’t amused and chewed out Mobley for contacting them, the lawsuit says.

“You black b—-es don’t know how to take care of your kids … you need to call the kids’ father, not us … we can’t raise your kids … why are you wasting our time, we aren’t here to raise your kid … why don’t you take your f—ing kid and leave?” the officer said, according to the lawsuit.

Mobley said at her preliminary hearing that when she tried to leave, the officer stopped her and told her he was arresting her. She also said that when she asked the officer why she was being arrested, he told her, “If you’re going to say another f—ing word, I’m going to knock your teeth down your throat.”

The officer then handcuffed her, threw her against a squad car and kicked her legs, she recalled.

According to the lawsuit, a female officer inside the patrol car attempted to stop the fourth officer, telling him “we are not supposed to act like this.”

For her trouble, Mobley received a charge of child endangerment and bruises that required a hospital visit. Her children were placed in foster care, where they spent four months away from home.

And, although it’s an open question whether a lesson in consequences is worth placing a 911 call, Mobley’s lawyer told DNAinfo New York that the police knew what was asked of them before they decided to meet with Mobley — and they came to meet with her voluntarily.

“They agreed to come. It wasn’t like she hoodwinked anyone into coming,” said attorney Philip Sporn.

However the suit turns out, one thing’s almost certain: Those kids probably did pick up a very healthy fear, thanks to their police encounter — just not the sort that Mobley had meant to instill.

EPA explores ‘modifying behavior’ by monitoring how much water hotel guests use when they shower

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is backing a research program that aims to monitor the amount of water hotel guests use while in the shower, in order to “assist hotel guest[s] in modifying their behavior to help conserve water.”

The EPA awarded a $15,000 grant to the University of Tulsa to help researchers develop a wireless device that would keep track of how much water hotel visitors use, as the research abstract on EPA’s website indicates:

It is anticipated that this project will provide a low cost, accurate, small size, low power, wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel showers. The primary goals of this Phase 1 project are to build and test a working prototype and to conduct a preliminary market analysis.

Of course, $15,000 isn’t much money for a federal agency to dole. So what kind of bargain is the EPA hoping its small outlay will net the American public? Here’s the program’s objective:

Hotels consume a significant amount of water in the U.S. and around the world. Most hotels do not monitor individual guest water usage and as a result, millions of gallons of potable water are wasted every year by hotel guests. The proposed work aims to develop a novel low cost wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel guest room showers. This device will be designed to fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system.

The idea is to inform the guests of how much water they’re wasting, so that they will be able to think of the planet when they hit the showers. “This technology will provide hotel guests with the ability to monitor their daily water online or using a smartphone app, and will assist hotel guest in modifying their behavior to help conserve water. The proposed wireless device will be marketed to the hotel industry to reduce costs by promoting water conservation among hotel guests.”

So it sounds, at least in its infancy, to be a market-based, volunteers-only concept — although measurable outcomes often pave the way for policy mandates later on. What’s optional for any hotel to purchase and use one day can become mandatory across the entire hospitality industry the next.

While we’re not saying that’s destined to happen in this case, we are saying this: If you’re ever a guest at a hotel and they ask you to install an app on your smartphone to help the proprietors — and possibly the government — keep track of your shower habits… don’t.

House candidate: At least I won’t parade around naked on the Internet

Now that we’ve reached a point in our nation’s history at which we no longer expect much from our elected leaders, one candidate’s recent promise not to royally embarrass his would-be constituents sounds like a laser-accurate — if tellingly sad — reading of America’s cultural and political zeitgeist in 2015.

What message of optimism and opportunity is Daniel Donovan, a Republican candidate in New York’s 11th Congressional District, spreading among voters?

Mainly, he’s promising not to take R-rated selfies and post them to social media. That’s a phenomenon, he says, that residents of his district have had their fill of. He may not have much in the way of hope and change to offer, but at least he is pledging to do no harm to the prestige that supposedly still attends the holding of high office.

“… I will make you proud,” Donovan, whose current day job has him running the Staten Island District Attorney’s office, told members of the Brooklyn South Conservative Club last week.

“I will never embarrass you. I’ve run four times, I’ve been vetted up and down, there’s nothing in my background that’s going to embarrass you. And I am too old to know how to put a naked photograph of myself on the Internet.”

Well, that’s something. New Yorkers already know something about congressmen and sex scandals, following an ongoing saga that saw former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner resign from his office in 2011. Weiner, husband of Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, announced he would reform his private habits and threw his hat into the New York City mayor’s race in 2013, only to be outed for again soliciting sexual chit-chat on social media under the alias of “Carlos Danger.”

Republican New York Congressman Chris Lee also resigned from Congress in 2011 after a similar online solicitation scandal; a year earlier, Democratic New York Congressman Eric Massa had resigned following allegations that he had sexually harassed male staffers in his office.

Al Gore gets Orwellian on climate change skeptics; calls for punishment

Every year, Al Gore pauses from his overscheduled itinerary of making a fool of himself at climate change speeches around the world to pause at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where he drops by to make a fool of himself in front of hipsters, activists and a sizable jumble of uninterested partiers.

This year, the rhetoric got harsh — as in “punish-the-deniers” harsh.

While Gore was talking specifically about politicians who reject the idea that government should divert public funds to combat the effects of a changing climate, his tone toward anyone who thinks the jury’s still out on whether climate change is even a problem was especially condescending and totalitarian. According to the Chicago Tribune, Gore invoked Nature itself as a corroborating force in his call to action:

Former Vice President Al Gore on Friday called on SXSW attendees to punish climate-change deniers, saying politicians should pay a price for rejecting “accepted science.”

“We have this denial industry cranked up constantly,” Gore said. “In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in.”

Gore suggested meting out punishment — or, in his words, a “price on denial in politics” — by shaming elected leaders who don’t share his agenda into legislating punitive cap-and-trade regulations that remove profits from the fossil fuel industry.

Gore’s more direct, ad hominem approach may be part of a coordinated marketing effort enjoined by the Obama administration. The White House released a March Madness-style “bracket” of lawmakers who oppose government action on climate change, attempting a public shaming of each with the promise that one eventually will be crowned a “champion denier.”

Clinton Foundation accepted millions from company deeply connected with Chinese government

Which Hillary Clinton scandal is bigger? Is it the one involving her likely illegal secreting and destruction of email records from her time as secretary of state, or is it the one involving the massive conflict of interest she wholeheartedly embraced by using her family’s nonprofit foundation to collect millions of dollars from foreign government donors — again, during her time as secretary of state?

Time will tell, but the foreign-donor scandal got a fresh dose of ugliness Monday with a CBS investigative report revealing that the Clinton Foundation received a massive injection of money from “at least one” Chinese company with very close ties to the Chinese government.

CBS reported that the Clinton Foundation received a $2 million pledge from Rilin Enterprises, a private Chinese construction company helmed by Wang Wenliang, who also happens to be a Chinese parliamentary delegate. The donation came at roughly the same time as the company was actively lobbying the State Department and Congress — to the tune of $1.4 million. Rilin was involved in construction contract work for the Chiense embassy in Washington, D.C., according to the report.

Rilin may be private, but those with knowledge of its place in China’s government-controlled economy describe the company in terms that almost make it sound para-governmental.

“If the point is you are not going to take money from foreign governments, then his [Wang’s] construction company is as close to not just the Chinese government, but its Ministry of State Security as they could possibly be,” one policy observer told CBS.

The Rilin donation appears to have been in the works while Clinton headed the State Department. The actual donation of $2 million was made “in 2013,” the report indicates; Clinton left the State Department in February of that same year.

Before the Clinton email scandal overtook some of its limelight in early March, the former secretary was about a week into the foreign donor scandal. That story, first reported by The Washington Post, revealed that Clinton had violated a highly tailored agreement with the Obama administration about what conflicts of interest the Clinton Foundation could and couldn’t get away with while she served as secretary of state.

Among those was a ban on the acceptance of donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments — a ban that the Foundation explicitly violated at least once, and that it appears to have violated on numerous other occasions. Among the foreign nations that contributed to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s tenure were Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Norway, Australia and the Dominican Republic. Some of those, including Qatar, were simultaneously spending millions of dollars actively lobbying the State Department during the same period.