The State Department’s inspector general released a report last week concluding that Hillary Clinton is a breathtakingly brazen and consistent liar.
No, that’s not a direct quote. Bureaucrats don’t talk that way under the best of circumstances — and this IG, Steve Linick, is an Obama appointee whose report is about the apparent Democratic nominee for president.
So it’s all the more shocking, then, that the report confirms nearly everything Clinton’s critics have been saying. By setting up a secret email server in her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., without proper authorization from any legal or security official, Clinton displayed a cavalier disregard for national security and an outrageous desire to hide her doings from Freedom of Information Act requests, government archivists, Congress, the press and, ultimately, the American people.
What’s infuriating about all of this is that it is not, in fact, news. Yes, the fresh details are justifiably headline-grabbing. But the underlying conclusion is about as shocking as a Department of Interior report confirming that bears are currently using our national parklands as toilets.
More than a year ago, Clinton held a press conference at the United Nations intended to put the whole controversy to rest. Nearly every significant statement she made was a lie. And we’ve known it for a year.
For instance, she said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” We know that’s untrue. Of the emails she handed over (remember, she unilaterally deleted some 32,000 on her own), 2,079 of them contained classified material, some given a classification even more sensitive than “top secret,” some fairly mundane. Her campaign clings to the fact that they were not “marked” classified.
Nonsense. Classified material is “born” classified, and it was Clinton’s job to understand that. Moreover, how could the classified material she sent be marked “classified” if the whole point of her shadow server was to avoid oversight by the people who do the classifying? It’s like selling bootleg gin and then claiming that no one from the government marked it “bootleg.”
Another major lie: that she did this out of “convenience” because she didn’t want to carry two devices. The whole thing sort of just happened on auto-pilot while she was concentrating on much more important things, Clinton insisted.
More lies. Not only did she carry several devices, but the IG report makes it clear that this stealth rig took a lot of planning and effort. She told staffers, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
When two employees in the IT department raised concerns that Clinton’s stealth server would not properly preserve records, a supervisor replied that the matter had been reviewed and approved by lawyers and that the staffers were “never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.”
That’s a strange instruction for something lawyers approved, isn’t it? The IG couldn’t find any evidence of this legal review of Clinton’s system. These mystery lawyers are surely unreachable because they are aiding O.J. Simpson in the search for the real killers.
If such a review existed, you’d think the Clinton campaign would provide it to investigators (and the press). Then again, if Clinton did nothing wrong, she also would have talked to the inspector general, like every other relevant secretary of state did. And she would have happily told her team to cooperate with the IG to clear the air. They all refused. I wonder why.
Just kidding. Of course I don’t wonder why. From the earliest days of this scandal — and it is a scandal — Clinton has lied. Unlike Donald Trump’s lies, which he usually vomits up spontaneously like a vesuvian geyser, Clinton’s were carefully prepared, typed up and repeated for all the world to hear over and over again.
I would think this is an important distinction. Neither of the candidates is worthy of the office in my eyes, but voters might discount many of Trump’s deceits as symptoms of his glandular personality. Much like Vice President Joe Biden, who always gets a pass for launching errant fake-fact missiles from the offline silo that is his mouth, Trump is often seen as entertainingly spontaneous.
Meanwhile, Clinton — who lives many time zones away from the word “entertaining” — is marketing herself as the mature and upstanding grown-up. She does nothing spontaneously. And that means all of her lies are premeditated.
Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by email at JonahsColumn@aol.com.