On Thursday, Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman, was absent on his MSNBC morning show “ Morning Joe.” His co-host, Mika Brzezinski, instead led a panel of guests including herself, Chuck Todd, and Andrea Mitchell — all of whom are far from excessively adversarial to the Clinton campaign. In fact, I’ve criticized those very panelists often for being outrageously biased in their support of Clinton.
In one 10-minute segment on the Hillary Clinton email scandal that is beginning to engulf her campaign, the panelists unanimously presented the most devastatingly painful takedown of how it has all unfolded.
From the very beginning of the segment, it was clear that the report issued by inspector general of the State Department on the scandal, and the subsequent excuses issued by the Clinton campaign, had completely taken the wind out of Mika and the team. They were equal parts miffed, exasperated, and disgusted – and sustained these emotions throughout the entire segment.
It must be watched to not only understand the gravity of the situation and the tenor of the conversation, but to witness firsthand how it has crossed over from being a Republican talking point to a very substantive problem for the Democratic Party.
For the first two and a half minutes, Mika narrated a montage of clips in which Hillary Clinton repeatedly denies all wrongdoing, stated that everything was approved and “above board,” and repeatedly declaring that she simply did what every other secretary of state had done. The report stated very clearly that none of that is true.
It was not above board.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union hall, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Buena Park, Calif.
It was not approved.
It was not, as one of her staff members told two people who reported concerns about her system, “reviewed and approved by department legal staff.”
Every email was not turned over to the State Department. She was the only secretary of state who refused to be interviewed. Seven of her staff members refused to be interviewed. And the investigation, headed up by an appointee of President Obama, was not driven by “Anti-Clinton bias” as her spokesperson inferred. Even Congressman Elijah Cummings, who has been an avid supporter of Clinton, outrageously blamed this new scandal on Republicans. That might’ve worked in 1990s, but it rings hollow today.
What could and should have been a very manageable problem to own, has now become a full-fledged scandal for Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Earnest observers, including Mika Brzezinski herself, believe that Hillary Clinton lied, repeatedly, to all of us. When pressed on whether or not Clinton was lying. Andrea Mitchell’s answer was the one I just couldn’t shake. You can see that she wanted to make sure she said what she had to say with respect and ultimately declared that what Hillary Clinton has told us just “doesn’t hold up.”
How are we to process Chuck Todd saying that he seriously doubted Hillary Clinton could even be confirmed as Attorney General at this point because of the scandal? If someone lacks the integrity and truthfulness to serve as Attorney General, then they certainly lack what it takes to be President of the United States. This scandal is not going to go away. In fact, it will probably get worse as the FBI continues its investigation.
Hillary Clinton should remove herself from contention from the Democratic nomination. Had the American public known a year ago what we know now, it’s possible that Clinton would have never made it this far. That she refused to be interviewed for the investigation and that she refuses to release the transcripts from her speeches to Goldman Sachs, suggests that she is prepared to win by any means necessary, even if it means denying the voters in her own party the information they truly need to make an informed decision about who she truly is.
When respected members of the press are utterly flabbergasted by the lies that were told sometimes directly to their faces, this has crossed over into something else – something far more nefarious.
When Hillary’s own staff member at the State Department told junior staffers who expressed concerns that “the matter was not to be discussed any further” and to “never speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again,” it leads most of us down the same rabbit hole to believe that the smoke we see is caused by a fire somewhere.
When years and years worth of emails from Hillary’s IT Director are now missing and cannot be retrieved, in light of everything we now know, what are we supposed to believe?
This scandal wasn’t a Republican hit job. It wasn’t from a vast right-wing conspiracy. This news segment wasn’t from the hacks at Fox News.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski speaks onstage during the ‘Morning Joe’ panel during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 7, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
It was all of Hillary’s doing. It’s too late for her to simply own up to it. The only way for her to fix this for the Democratic Party is for her to bow out gracefully. Now, you and I know that’s not really the Clinton way, but we are all faced with the painful reality that this scandal makes her that much weaker against Donald Trump. In the days ahead, the polls will no doubt show as much.
My sincere guess is that Clinton and the Democratic establishment will do nothing to own up this. They’re in so deep to one another that they couldn’t see a way out if they tried.
For the record, and in case you have trouble viewing the video, I’ve included some transcribed notes from some of the most devastating clips of the segment.
2:43 – Mika Brzezinski to Andrea Mitchell, “The first interview we showed was the one you did with her and she says time and time and time and time and time and time again it was allowed. Was it allowed?” Andrea answers, “It was not allowed to not return those records before she left the State Department. She violated the Official Records Act, according to her own State Department IG (Investigator General) appointed by President Obama. What you have shown just now, Mika, completely undercuts the argument she has been making for more than a year, just as she trying to persuade voters that she is not untrustworthy. I think the most surprising, and in some ways shocking thing, is their reaction, claiming that this is the same as what former secretaries did.”
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.
(NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
4:11 – Mitchell – “There are so many flaws in their argument. The politics, we’ll have to see how that plays out, but I don’t see how this is anything but devastating, given the fact that they have been making a completely different argument now, for more than a year.”
5:28 – Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek – “If you were to remove Donald Trump from the equation right now, this is the story that would be roiling the 2016 Presidential election.”
5:40 – Chuck Todd – “The only reason why I think there isn’t panic on the Democratic side is because of Trump.”
6:25 – Mika Brzezinski “I really don’t want to be the one delivering this, but, I gotta tell ya, this is really hard to believe. It feels like she is lying, straight out.”
6:50 – Mika Brzezinski to Andrea Mitchell, “Andrea Mitchell, is she lying” Andrea responds, after an awkward pause “I can’t say that. Um, I would let the viewer, let the voter, make those determinations, but it doesn’t hold up. There are so many inconsistencies, including their response yesterday, and as Chuck said, it was jaw dropping.”
9:00 Chuck Todd “I have always looked at this, it’s sort of, what is the Occam’s Razor, what is the most logical sort of explanation, and the most logical explanation is she wanted to make it harder for the press and Congress to see her correspondence.”
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