Talk about a bad moment for Hillary Clinton. It's too early to say that the Clinton juggernaut is in danger of sinking, but it is taking on water — and fast.
Here's what we've learned in the last 24 hours:
- The email server Clinton wiped clean is headed to the Justice Department.
- Some of the emails she already had turned over to State contained material that could be deemed "top secret."
- Bernie Sanders is now leading her in New Hampshire.
To recap: As secretary of state, Clinton used a personal email account attached to a private server at her home in upstate New York and did not use a government account at all. That means she kept emails that should have been in the public domain on a personal server. When the State Department asked for her correspondence, her team divided email messages it deemed to be related to her work from those it deemed to be personal in nature. The work emails were sent to the State Department, and the rest were wiped from her server — an odd act, at the very least.
For months, Clinton resisted calls from political adversaries and media outlets to turn over the server so that someone not on her payroll could see whether she had withheld any documents that should have been in the public record. On Tuesday — and amid the potentially damaging news that she had material that should have been treated as "top secret" in her emails — Clinton finally relented. Here's what her spokesperson, Nick Merrill, said:
This past spring, Hillary Clinton asked the Department of State to publish the 55,000 pages of the work emails she provided to the Department last fall. As she has said, it is her hope that State and the other agencies involved in the review process will sort out as quickly as possible which emails are appropriate to release to the public, and that the release will be as timely and transparent as possible. In the meantime, her team has worked with the State Department to ensure her emails are stored in a safe and secure manner. She directed her team to give her email server that was used during her tenure as Secretary to the Department of Justice, as well as a thumb drive containing copies of her emails already provided to the State Department. She pledged to cooperate with the government's security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.
You can bet there will be more questions, because, as McClatchy reported Tuesday, two of the emails already in the government's possession contained information that rose to the "top secret" level:
The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications — more sensitive than previously known.
The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of "personal communications hardware and software" by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress.
"We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate," said Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general.
It's pretty clear at this point that there's a turf war going on among government agencies about whether and how certain information should be classified. But leaving aside any legal questions, it will be hard politically for Clinton to defend any laxity regarding highly classified information when she's running for president.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the leading Republican presidential contenders, put an exclamation on that point Wednesday morning:
This is a serious and potentially criminal offense that proves Hillary Clinton put her own personal convenience ahead of the safety and security of the American people. She cannot be trusted to keep America's secrets or its citizens safe, and therefore cannot be trusted to be commander in chief.
As if her Tuesday wasn't bad enough, Clinton got news that she's trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. From the Boston Herald, which partnered on the poll with Franklin Pierce University:
Sanders leads Clinton 44-37 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, the first time the heavily favored Clinton has trailed in the 2016 primary campaign, according to the poll of 442 Granite-Staters.
Vice President Joe Biden got 9 percent support in the test primary match-up. The other announced Democrats in the race, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb, barely register at 1 percent or below.
VIDEO: Hillary Clinton on email: 'Everything I did was permitted'
Here are 9 more things to know today.
1) Chutzpah alert: Bush blames Obama and Clinton for Iraq mess
Jeb Bush's foreign policy speech on Tuesday night should probably go down as the chutzpah speech. His prescription for Iraq — more training and equipping of Iraqis, air cover for Iraqi fighters, and maybe a modest increase in ground troops — isn't particularly bold. But his selective amnesia about the recent history of Iraq is.
Here's the crux of Bush's argument:
Why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary? That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill — and that Iran has exploited to the full as well. ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat. And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away. In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly one time.
Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the President and Secretary Clinton — the storied ‘team of rivals’ — took office? So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers. It was a case of blind haste to get out, and to call the tragic consequences somebody else’s problem. Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous.
Clinton's hands are hardly clean on Iraq. She voted to give George W. Bush the authority to go to war — and Jeb Bush is right that she criticized the surge. But she didn't order the invasion or sign a status-of-forces agreement to force the withdrawal of most US troops.
It's as if Jeb Bush and his whole team forgot that his brother alone chose to go into Iraq in 2003 and and then, in 2008, signed the status of forces agreement requiring the withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011. Or at least it's as if they want the American public to forget.
Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times explains the dilemma at the heart of Jeb Bush's remarks:
The notable omissions in a speech meant to stake out his approach to world issues spoke to a difficulty at the heart of Jeb Bush’s campaign: He can’t really mention the role of his brother, whose foreign policy moves remain unpopular even as he has benefited, as all presidents do, from a certain post-presidency boost in popularity. And to dump on him would seem disloyal. But when George Bush goes missing, it only seems to highlight the past in bright neon and beg for some accounting of how the future under Jeb would be better.
I think his tack reveals another major issue for Bush. The neocons who still think his brother was entirely right on Iraq are a minority even within the Republican Party. And yet they are an outsize portion of Bush's establishment base. To keep them happy and energized, he has to say things on foreign policy that won't be popular with the broader public. And he has to attack Clinton and Obama for failing to pursue their war. Even if he ignores that his brother bears the real blame.
2) The Donald's leading the field in Iowa but losing to undecided
A new Suffolk University Iowa poll shows that Donald Trump is the favorite in the Hawkeye State. But there's a lot of room for other candidates to pick up support. That's because 20 percent of the survey respondents say they are undecided, more than the 17 percent Trump is getting.
If you missed it on first glance, take a look at where Bush is. That's right. He's at 5 percent. It might be time to start thinking about skipping Iowa, a state his brother won handily in 2000. George H. W. Bush won Iowa narrowly in 1980 but lost to Bob Dole and Pat Robertson there in 1988.
3) Omarosa defends Trump's celebrity-feud mentality
I did an interview with Omarosa, the villain of The Apprentice. I'll post something fuller on that later today. But I thought her take on Trump's mistreatment of Rosie O'Donnell and Megyn Kelly provides some insight into what might be going on in his head.
"He's been operating in an entertainment space, and celebrity feuds are par for the course," she said.
4) Schumer "not lobbying" senators on Iran as he calls them to explain why his position against the nuclear deal is the right one
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is taking a lot of flak from White House allies over his decision to oppose the Iran nuclear deal. Now he wants his colleagues to know his reasoning, according to Politico's John Bresnahan.
In these conversations, Schumer has been walking through his position on the Iran agreement, the product of lengthy negotiations between the leading world powers and the Iranian government.
Schumer, though, is not lobbying his colleagues to vote against the agreement when the Senate takes up a "resolution of disapproval" next month, several undecided senators said during interviews. The disapproval resolution is expected to win the 60 votes needed to overcome any Democratic filibuster.
It's funny that senators view his calls that way. If his reasoning is sound, then calling them to outline the merits of his position would have the effect of lobbying them to his side. In fact, that's exactly how the White House lobbies members of Congress. It's illegal to spend appropriated money to lobby Congress, so members of the administration often say they are simply "educating" lawmakers about the president's position.
But Schumer's pretty wily, and I've long suspected that he would both oppose the deal and help the White House round up the votes for it. Perhaps whatever he's saying to his colleagues is helpful, not hurtful, to the president's case.
5) John Kasich, a man on the move in New Hampshire
Many Democrats found Ohio Gov. John Kasich the most appealing candidate on the Republican debate stage last Thursday. He's also winning some love from New Hampshire Republicans. A Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University poll released Tuesday shows Trump in the lead with 18 percent, followed by Bush at 13 percent and Kasich at 12 percent. An important sign of the progress he's making: Former state Attorney General Tom Rath is expected to endorse Kasich today. Here's Reid Epstein of the Wall Street Journal on Rath's credentials:
Mr. Rath, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, served as the state’s Republican National Committeeman and served in the George H.W. Bush administration. He also worked on the campaigns of George W. Bush and 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole.
6) Obama promotes voting rights in letter to New York Times
President Obama wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times Wednesday in praise of Jim Rutenberg's July 29 magazine story on half a century of efforts to peel back the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The article featured Rosanell Eaton, a 94-year-old woman who is fighting a 2013 North Carolina voting law in court. Here's a bit of what Obama wrote:
I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality. Their efforts made our country a better place. It is now up to us to continue those efforts. Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier — not harder — for more Americans to have their voices heard. Above all, we must exercise our right as citizens to vote, for the truth is that too often we disenfranchise ourselves.
7) Melissa Gilbert is running for Congress
Remember Melissa Gilbert, the girl who played Laura Ingalls Wilder on the TV version of Little House on the Prairie? Well, she's now running for Congress as a Democrat in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. The district's not quite the prairie — more like the suburbs and exurbs east of Lansing. Gilbert's challenges include overcoming a lien the IRS filed against her for $360,000 in back taxes and freshman Republican Rep. Mike Bishop, who currently represents the district. One last fun fact: She's married to actor Timothy Busfield, who played the fictional Washington Post reporter Danny Concannon on The West Wing.
8) Keystone politics: It's not just for Americans
Nicole Gaouette of Bloomberg reports on another layer of the Keystone thicket: Canadian elections.
Canada’s election in October has become yet another event shaping the seven-year saga of the Keystone XL pipeline, one that may lead the Obama administration to delay announcing a decision to approve or reject the $8 billion project.
Putting a decision on hold would give the U.S. and Canada a chance to reset a strained relationship, said David Wilkins, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada. On the other hand, a decision in the midst of Canada’s 11-week election campaign could be seen as political interference.
9) The lost "I have a dream" recording
Students of the August 1963 March on Washington have long known that Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" riff was an ad-lib, spurred on by Mahalia Jackson, who had heard it before. Now there's an audio recording of a very similar address he gave in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1962. From the Raleigh News & Observer:
The world might have forgotten that speech, confined for decades to those who witnessed it at Booker T. Washington High School, but for a remastered recording recovered from a Rocky Mount library and played publicly for the first time at N.C. State University on Tuesday.
In research for his book "Origins of the Dream," English professor W. Jason Miller discovered a reel-to-reel copy on acetate tape, probably recorded by a teacher at Booker T. Washington and stored for years within the school library.
It "mysteriously appeared" in Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount, where the staff had no equipment to play it. Miller noticed "Please Do Not Erase" penciled on the box. Transformed to digital format, it is now confirmed that King gave Rocky Mount listeners the first taste of his "I have a dream" speech delivered in Washington, D.C., nine months later.
For stirring excerpts, click on this link.