Hillary Lied About Her Emails on National TV — And Now WaPo Slaps It With Damning ‘Four Pinocchios’

Hillary Clinton didn’t tell the truth about her emails, and she’s still not telling the truth about her emails.

That is a fact made clear on national television earlier this month by FBI Director James Comey. As he put it during a press conference to announce they wouldn’t be recommending charges for the former Secretary of State, Clinton lied about:

  • Whether she used “one device”
  • Whether emails were “marked classified” when sent or received
  • The possibility of security breaches to her email
  • Whether she communicated with officials on their .gov emails
  • Whether State Department was careful with classified emails

Now Hillary is getting called out for another dishonest statement.

In an interview Sunday on Fox News, Clinton said:

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

Let’s unpack that. Clinton claims that the FBI Director says that she was honest with her answers, even though he was rather plain that she was not truthful with her answers.

How did she pull that one off?

Take it away, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler:

Clinton is cherry-picking statements by Comey in order to preserve her basic narrative about the unusual email set-up. This allows her to skate past the more disturbing findings of the FBI investigation.For instance, when Clinton asserts “my answers were truthful,” a campaign aide said she is referring to this statement by Comey to Congress:  “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”

But as Kessler pointed out, that was a dodge.

Comey was saying that Clinton hadn’t lied to the FBI. While the FBI would not release any transcript or recording of its interview with Clinton, all the director was saying is they had no evidence of her lying … to them.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 28: on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Clinton, meanwhile, was saying that Comey vouched for her statements made to the American public. He clearly did not, as he laid out — both in his press conference and while testifying to Congress — the areas where she lied to the American public.

In the end, Kessler slapped Hillary’s statement with WaPo’s harshest judgement for a lie:

As we have seen repeatedly in Clinton’s explanations of the email controversy, she relies on excessively technical and legalistic answers to explain her actions. While Comey did say there was no evidence she lied to the FBI, that is not the same as saying she told the truth to the American public–which was the point of Wallace’s question. Comey has repeatedly not taken a stand on her public statements.And although Comey did say many emails were retroactively classified, he also said that there were some emails that were already classified that should not have been sent on an unclassified, private server. That’s the uncomfortable truth that Clinton has trouble admitting.

Four Pinnochios

That’s going sting for Clinton, who is battling Donald Trump in what’s become an ever-tightening race, even as she deals with national concerns about her honesty as a leader.

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Who Won the Trump–Fox News Debate Showdown?

After completely transforming the 2016 GOP primary, Donald Trump, on Thursday night, pulled off the season’s most dramatic showdown so far simply by refusing to show up for an event. Everyone agreed that Trump’s competing rally was boring, but perhaps that wasn’t the performance we were meant to focus on. As The New York Times‘ Frank Bruni noted, Trump’s absence was the “most compelling presence” on the Fox News debate stage. “Trump was remembered. Trump was invoked,” Bruni said. “His ghost was there, because he’d reshaped his Republican rivals’ images, reconfigured the challenges in front of them, rewritten the rules of this extraordinary race.”

Making your ghostly presence felt is obviously an impressive feat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Trump’s stunt was successful politically. According to the pundits, the Trump–Fox News debacle either proved that the front-runner is a political savant, or that he committed one of the “greatest tactical errors” by a politician ever.

Many commentators agreed with Bruni and gave the night to Trump. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias said Trump put on a “bravura debate performance,” though he wasn’t on stage:

The spirit of Trump and Trumpism was the dominant force of the evening even without Trump in the room. Ted Cruz reiterated his promise to “carpet bomb” ISIS regardless of the civilian casualty. Marco Rubio archly referred to his desire to bring back torture as a matter of American policy. Asked if he was worried about a rising tide of Islamophobic incidents in the United States, Ben Carson said simply that “we need to stop allowing political correctness to dictate our policies.”

Every candidate in the race — even the once sunny and multicultural Rubio — has adopted Trump’s essentially dark and pessimistic worldview. There’s no sense in this field that the economy is stronger than it was three or seven years ago, and there’s no sense that the world beyond America’s shores offers anything other than danger.

Another point for Trump: Days before the Iowa caucus, he forced his rivals to attack each other, while he emerged unscathed. The Nation‘s John Nichols said it was obvious that Trump was smart to skip the debate — and not just because his own event generated “wall-to-wall coverage on the other cable news networks.”

Had he taken the stage with the rest of the candidates, Trump would have taken hits directly from them. He also would have had to stand by while they took shots at one another. They did just that: Cruz took shots at Rubio, Rubio took shots at Cruz, Bush took shots at Rubio, and Rand Paul took shots at everyone.

By skipping the debate, and letting the rest of the candidates argue among themselves, Trump avoided any potential damage — and he made it harder for the other contenders, especially Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich, to build on whatever momentum they might be accumulating as the key tests approach.

Speaking of the other candidates, most pundits felt they failed to fill the Trump-sized hole at the center of the debate. Joan Walsh, Nichols’s colleague at The Nation, wrote:

The debate illuminated the vacuum at the heart of the Republican Party that has been filled by Trump. None of the candidates have the combination of smarts, charisma, and backbone that leading the country usually requires. Their massive cave-in on immigration, a sop to their nativist base, was the clearest example of their abdication of responsibility to govern, but foreign policy, where everyone pledged to kill ISIS deader than the other, but nobody said how, was a close second. Trump’s absence is likely to make GOP hearts grow fonder. At any rate, nobody did anything to stop his momentum on Thursday night.

Bruni added that Rubio missed yet another opportunity to become the candidate everyone predicted he would be:

Political observers have been waiting for Rubio’s breakout moment, and many predicted that he’d have it at this debate. He didn’t. Put frequently on the defensive, he reverted to lines he’d used before and nuggets from his stump speech, and he kept returning to ISIS and military might, military might and ISIS. He came across as overly programmed, one-dimensional and itchy to go to war.

Others, like Slate’s Jim Newell, said Ted Cruz was the most disappointing candidate onstage:

Cruz had his worst debate at a time when polls suggest he’s fallen well behind Trump in Iowa. Unless organizing can make up the shortfall, he needs to make something happen in the few days left. But instead of commanding the stage and hammering the absent front-runner, Cruz turned in a sloppy performance consisting of flat jokes, whining to the moderators, whining to the moderators as a set up for flat jokes, and taking substantive poundings from his rivals—and from Fox News itself … Cruz on Thursday night wasn’t the dominating presence he needed to be. He was just another one of the people losing to Donald Trump.

And don’t forget about the two candidates who actually sided with Trump in his war on Fox News. On Newsmax TV, Michael Reagan panned undercard debaters Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who won the last two GOP Iowa caucuses, for playing along. “They’re not going to win another caucus at all,” he said. “They shouldn’t even be in the debates — and then to go and give credibility, or try to give credibility to Trump, Trump had to be laughing all the way back to his plane.”

There was one candidate who was almost universally praised for turning in a good … er, less-bad performance than usual: Jeb Bush. The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza summed up his night:

If you had any doubt about how much Donald Trump is in Jeb’s head, this debate should have cleared it up. The former Florida governor was, from the get go, more relaxed and more forceful in this Trump-less debate than he has been in the previous six debates where Trump was included. He owned his family’s political legacy unapologetically. He fought Rubio to a draw in an immigration back and forth. He regularly was the only candidate — aside from Paul — who answered the questions asked of him.  Jeb is still a somewhat (ok, very) awkward candidate — his halting closing statement was painful — who doesn’t really like going on the attack. But, without Trump looming over him, Bush looked positively presidential.

Fellow Post journalist Stephen Stromberg agreed that Bush was the only candidate who put on a “halfway decent” show. Though, he couldn’t say exactly why:

Maybe Donald Trump’s absence gave Bush a confidence boost — or at least permitted him to get a word in edgewise. Perhaps Bush, with little to lose at this point, relaxed. Or maybe he is just more polished after months of campaigning. Whatever the reason, he spoke with more conviction and dominated the stage at several points in the debate. And he used some of those moments to bring policy specifics and high principles into an otherwise dismal conversation.

And he thinks it’s too late for Bush to “rescue his flailing candidacy.”

The Weekly Standard‘s Jonathan V. Last felt the candidates’ generally mediocre performances were actually Fox News’s fault:

… the Fox crew ran a strange debate: They asked very few questions about the frontrunner; they queued up flip-flop highlight reels for some candidates, but not others; they paid homage to liberal shibboleths like climate change and Kim Davis; they devoted time to silly YouTube question about America’s supposed climate of Islamophobia from a Bernie Sanders supporter.

The result was something of a muddle, with none of the candidates prosecuting the case against Trump. Instead, they all acted as if they were in an interregnum which had nothing to do with the campaign both behind it and in front of it. It’s as if they thought that because Trump was gone for a night, he was vanquished from the field. This seems like a terrible miscalculation.

Though most commentators felt Megyn Kelly, the journalist at the center of this week’s debacle, came off well. Writing (perhaps not coincidentally) for Fox News, Erick Erickson called Kelly the debate’s “ultimate winner”:

After days of being beaten up by the Trump forces, she showed she is a sharp, credible journalist who is willing to ask tough questions and hold the candidates accountable for their prior statements. The video montages and prior records of the candidates were fair game and she forced them to answer.

And the Post‘s Chris Cillizza noted that she managed to perform under a tremendous amount of pressure:

There has rarely been a debate moderator who has come under as much scrutiny as Kelly has during the course of this campaign. Despite all of that negative attention, Kelly showed why she is the face of Fox News on Thursday night. She was pointed, tough and well versed on the issues. And, more important to me?  She showed her sense of humor and a willingness to not take herself too seriously.  That she performed so well with so many eyes on her speaks incredibly highly of her abilities.

But if Fox News won, doesn’t that mean Trump lost? A handful of pundits argued that point, noting that Trump’s competing event was tremendously dull, despite all the publicity. The Atlantic‘s Yoni Appelbaum said:

It might have been interesting to watch Trump’s grimaces and facial contortions as his own flip-flop reel played. But he avoided awkward questions on his own, far-longer list of substantive reversals. Standing alone on stage at his veterans’ event across town, though, Trump appeared equally diminished by the absence of his rivals. He brought Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee up to join him, before yielding the podium to veterans for half an hour. The other cable-news networks cut away from their live coverage, and the rally wound down to its anti-climactic end while the debate remained in full swing.

Dick Morris took the most extreme anti-Trump stance, declaring on Newsmax TV that he “missed a huge opportunity” and allowed Cruz to consolidate his position as the front-runner. He wondered why Trump let the debate go on without him, since he’s “not stupid,” and speculated that Trump was worried that he’d be hit hard on his abortion flip-flop.”He has a good chance to win,” he said, “but he committed one of the greatest tactical errors I’ve ever seen a candidate do in a campaign.”

So, is there anything positive to say about the GOP’s chaotic display? The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol tried to find a silver lining:

Could the consequence of the debate be to begin the deflation of the Trump balloon? I’ll grant that I may be indulging in wishful thinking, but I think so. If you were an undecided Iowa voter, or a leaner one way or another, I think you saw something to like in one or more of the candidates on the stage. I don’t think you recoiled from the spectacle and said, “I want Donald.” The national media is enraptured with the narrative of The Triumph of Trump, so they’ll want to say that he was the winner in absentia. But I think for actual Republican voters, especially in Iowa, he was simply in absentia. And I don’t think absence made the heart grow fonder. I suspect absence made the heart start to question why it was interested in Trump in the first place.

This time, we only have to wait until Monday to find out if he’s right.

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Obama’s comments about Hillary Clinton’s email left ‘a foul taste in the FBI’s mouth’

The FBI is mad at its president.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” last Sunday, President Barack Obama said that though it was probably a “mistake” for Hillary Clinton to use a private email server during her time as secretary of state, it “is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

His comments have reportedly angered the FBI, which has been investigating Clinton’s server out of its DC headquarters since August to determine whether any classified national-security information was mishandled.

“Injecting politics into what is supposed to be a fact-finding inquiry leaves a foul taste in the F.B.I.’s mouth and makes them fear that no matter what they find, the Justice Department will take the president’s signal and not bring a case,” Ron Hosko, a former senior FBI official who retired in 2014, told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

Hosko added that it was inappropriate for the president to “suggest what side of the investigation he is on” during an ongoing investigation.

Though Clinton’s use of a private email address was not illegal and was permitted by State Department rules, the federal government has standards for how servers are built, how they are secured, and how their data is stored.

The FBI is looking into the configuration of the server that Clinton handed over to authorities, as well as whether classified information passed over the remarkably unsecured server.

In August, the intelligence community’s inspector general, Charles McCullough III, told Congress that he discovered two emails sent to Clinton that contained information classified as “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information,” which is the government’s highest levels of classification. Those emails were discovered in a sample of only about 40 emails.

And an email sent to Clinton reportedly contained the name of a CIA asset in Libya.

Agents perceived Obama’s comments as an attempt to influence the outcome of their investigation, according to The Times. And they are annoyed that the president would pass judgment about whether Clinton’s email setup endangered national security when officials have yet to determine whether her server — which contained information retroactively marked top secret and classified — was compromised by foreign adversaries.

“If you know my folks,” FBI Director James Comey said earlier this month, “you know they don’t give a rip about politics.”

The administration has since backed off Obama’s comments: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama was not trying to undermine the investigation after he was grilled by reporters during Tuesday’s daily briefing.

“The president has a healthy respect for the kinds of independent investigations that are conducted by inspectors general and, where necessary, by the FBI,” he said.

Clinton’s unusual email system was originally set up by a staffer during Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, replacing a server used by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Facing criticism earlier this year for her use of the server, Clinton handed over about 30,000 work-related emails for the State Department to make public. She also deleted about 31,000 emails she says were personal. She handed over the entire server to the FBI in August.

Over the past three months, officials examining Clinton’s emails have determined that some of the information that passed through her inbox is now considered either classified or top secret and should not have been discussed over such an unsecured platform.

Indeed, according to a lengthy Reuters investigation, much of the information Clinton sent and received was inherently classified even if it was not marked as such at the time.

And reports that hackers in China, South Korea, Germany, and Russia tried to break into her server have raised questions about the kind of security precautions she took to safeguard this sensitive information.

It is unlikely that the foreign attacks on Clinton’s server were targeted at her directly: The attempts discovered were basic phishing scams disguised as speeding tickets, The Associated Press reported, and rather unsophisticated.

But the malicious emails highlight the fact that Clinton’s server was a target.

And according to a new AP investigation, the way Clinton’s server was connected to the internet — via a Microsoft remote-desktop service that permitted remote-access connections without additional protective measures — made it particularly vulnerable to hackers, which is something experts say her own security experts should have known.

If malicious state actors did know that Clinton was running a private email server and they tried to hack it, “then it’s almost a sure thing that they were successful,” Michael Borohovski, CTO of Tinfoil Security, told Business Insider.

“It’s possible Clinton’s server was breached before she even sent her first email,” Borohovski added. “She probably didn’t mean to put government at risk, but she ended up doing it by running an external mail server that was secured with questionable resources.”

Clinton defended herself on “Meet the Press” earlier this month by saying that she was unfamiliar with the technical aspects of the server, which she left in the hands of experts.

But because Clinton made a conscious decision to bypass the State Department’s server — and the millions of dollars the government has spent to protect it — in favor of her own risky setup, her ignorance of the technological particulars is a poor excuse, Joe Loomis, CEO of CyberSponse, told Business Insider last week.

“The fact that Clinton chose to use her personal email instead of a .gov account shows that she obviously doesn’t understand security,” Loomis said. “What she did is like inviting spies over to dinner — every device connected to the internet is an opportunity for them to collect intelligence.

“This world is full of cyberwarfare, and your computer is a part of that war zone.”

As The Times pointed out, the president and the FBI also sparred in 2012 when he commented on reports that David Petraeus had passed classified information to his mistress.

“I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security,” Obama said at the time.

FBI officials reportedly believe that their recommendation for Petraeus — felony charges and a prison sentence — was overruled by the Justice Department at least in part because Obama had prejudiced the outcome.

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