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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Glenn Thrush of Politico Ponders Hillary’s Email Problem

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The audio:

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The transcript:

HH: I’m joined by Glenn Thrush of Politico.com. Glenn, this is an earthquake in Clinton world. Could they not anticipate this happening when the Attorney General sits down with the husband of the object of a prosecution who himself might be under investigation for the Clinton Foundation-related improprieties?

GT: Let’s just say that you know, I was with some Clinton folks last night, and the general sense was kind of WTF. (Laughing) I just think this is just Bill Clinton being Bill Clinton. And you know, we were at this nice, quiet moment where things seemed to be chugging along for them, and this is exactly the sort of thing that the Clintons tend to do.

HH: It also puts the server in the spotlight for the long weekend, running into the Cleveland convention. And if the Trump campaign steps on this story by announcing their VP this weekend, I’m really going to hit, slap my forehead. They’ve got to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday. But all weekend long, people are going to be talking about the server and why she is subject to prosecution. And Glenn, do you think, you know this story, it’s a national security problem. The Russians have everything on there. The Chinese do. The Iranians do, at least according to Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, acting director of the CIA. They’ve got it all. It’s a national security nightmare. Do you think the public gets it? Or do they still think it’s an email thing?

GT: Well, I don’t, look, I know Mike Morell says that. You know, I don’t know what they got, and I also know that the State Department server has been hacked also. I mean, you know, in terms of her use of emails, I’m not going to defend it. I think it was stupid. But in terms of her general use of emails, we know for a fact that in terms of private email, she used fewer, she used emails less frequently than a lot of other high government officials. So yeah, I don’t…

HH: Wait, wait, Glenn, what do you mean by that?

GT: I don’t know…

HH: There is no comparability anywhere. I’ve got to push back. I’m being like Daniel Hannan and Christiane Amanpour, which I want to talk to you about.

GT: Yeah.

HH: There are 33,000 emails deleted, and 30,000 turned over all on a private server. It is epic in its scale of disregard for encryption and security. There is nothing similar to it. That’s like comparing Krakatoa to stubbing your toe. There’s nothing like this in the history of national security other than Snowden.

GT: No, it’s like comparing Krakatoa to Mount St. Helens.

HH: No, it’s not. There’s nothing. There is nothing remotely close.

GT: How many times was the State Department internal emails systems shut down because it was hacked, because…tell me…

HH: Attacks against encrypted systems are detected, and encrypted information can be recovered and you what’s lost. A private server with 66,000 emails, many of which are classified, all of which are valuable, because they’re to and from the Secretary of State, has no predicate, Glenn. None. Nowhere.

GT: How do you compare this to, no, I’m talking about in terms of national security threat, how do you compare this to the Wikileaks?

HH: Snowden is worse, Wikileaks about the same, but Wikileaks has low level as well as high level. Everything…

GT: So the man accused of Wikileaks in comparison to what the potential for what was on Hillary Clinton’s server is incomparable.

HH: You’re wrong.

GT: That’s where you’re connected…

HH: You’re just, Glenn, you are flat-out wrong.

GT: It doesn’t connect to global security.

HH: Now I speak as a former counterintelligence professional who had all the SCI compartmented information clearances. I know what goes on in those communications. You are flat-out wrong.

GT: Okay, I’m wrong.

HH: Okay. Glad to have that admission against interest.

GT: I just, I think in terms of a political problem, I think it is an unbelievably, it is an unbelievably idiotic self-inflicted wound, and what Clinton did, what Bill Clinton did with Loretta Lynch, and what Loretta Lynch did, was absurd.

HH: It’s only the Clintons could do this because of their two roles. Tell me what you think happens, just indulge me, if she is indicted, what happens to the campaign?

GT: I don’t know. I mean, who knows if she’s going to get indicted? I think it’s the same set of, I think it’s the same set of issues that we were dealing with before. If she gets indicted, it’s obviously a massive reset of, you know, of what’s going on in the campaign.

HH: Now my theory is…

GT: And I think the different question is what evidence do we have, Hugh, that she is any more likely to be indicted today because of what happened than you know, than anything we’ve been talking about before?

HH: Oh, we took out a political actor who in a political Department of Justice, that for example, I remind you of Ted Stevens hounded to what eventually became his death by political prosecutors, no longer can step on Comey, who I trust. If Comey says there’s no crime here, I’m accepting that. I believe in James Comey. I accept…but if he indicts, here’s what I think happens. Nothing. I think this is a meta campaign that has nothing to do with either of the candidates. It’s being fought out like Brexit on fault lines so deep in the American political system, the candidates at the top are just shaking in reaction to them. What do you think?

GT: Well look, I mean, you know, I had Tim Miller, the former Bush communications director, on my podcast about two months ago, and he said that Hillary could beat Donald Trump from jail, right?

HH: (Laughing) That’s a Tim Miller thing to say.

GT: Look, I think…it is a Tim Miller thing to say. Look, I think this is obviously, no, if she, come on, man, we’re looking, look at our poll spreads over the last couple of days. You know, another person I talked with yesterday was Nate Silver. We’re going to pop that podcast, fascinating stuff…

HH: Oh, wow.

GT: And we were sort of looking, we were looking at the trajectory of the polls. And one of the dissonances has been the state polls. Trump has been doing better respectively in the state polls and battleground state polls than he has in the national polls. That’s changing a bit over the next couple of days. Look, I suspect if she gets indicted, particularly in some of these, you know, in a state like Pennsylvania, which really does seem to have some movement, I mean, this could be extraordinarily impactful. Now I think if she gets indicted, it’s obviously a game changer for the campaign.

HH: And now talk with me about vice presidents, because the story this morning is that it’s down to Newt and Christie, which Newt in the front running position. I, for the life of me, do not understand why a 70 year old white man would put another 70 year old, actually, a 74 year old white guy on the ticket. He is combative. He is very talented. I’ve got nothing against Mr. Newt. But I just, I think you put Chris Christie on there, you put Pennsylvania in play because of his amazing media exposure in the Philadelphia market. You double down like Clinton-Gore. I just do not, or Tom Cotton, because he killed terrorists. Christie prosecuted them. I don’t get Newt. What’s going on?

GT: Well, I mean, the issue with Christie is, well, you know, the other shoe with Christie is let’s just say your scenario plays out and Hillary Clinton gets indicted on the email scandals, right? Christie has the Bridgegate thing hanging over his head, and that’s something that Democrats, I think, in terms of equivalence, would attempt to make that argument. So I think Christie, in that regard, is a difficult…I don’t get the Newt thing. Dude, we’re down to these people in part because I think a lot of folks, and I guess sitting, waiting off in the wings is Jeff Sessions, is like a break glass alternative.

HH: Well, I think Tom Cotton would say yes. I don’t know that for a fact. I think he would say yes. I think you put an Army Ranger, a combat veteran of the war, a House member for two years, a newbie Senator, it’s like…

GT: You are, man, you want this to happen.

HH: I do, because I want the war to be central to this. I want Istanbul…you know, they learned today that these three guys started in Raqqa. One’s a Russian, one’s an Uzbekistan, one’s a Kyrgyzstan guy. They moved through Sryia and Iran. They get into Turkey, they get an apartment. They are so sophisticated. We’re getting killed. I mean, they’re going to hit here, Glenn. Every time I go through Reagan, I think this ain’t that hard, buddy. Don’t you think that every time you go through Reagan?

GT: I try, well, I like BWI.

HH: Oh.

GT: So I’m thinking if I’m going through BWI, you know…

HH: No one can find it.

GT: If they decide to go after Reagan, I’m in good shape.

HH: Yeah, terrorists can’t find BWI.

GT: Plus, I have to say, they have an excellent Dunkin’ Donuts at BWI concourse.

HH: So I want the issues to be about this, and so I just, that’s what Cotton as the under…

GT: If it’s on national security, man, what was Newt’s, I’m going back into the memory banks here, Hugh, but what was Trump doing during Vietnam? And what was Newt doing during Vietnam? Were they both sort of in the same place?

HH: Of course, neither of them served. Neither did I, but I don’t think that argument has much traction because of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. I just don’t think that’s, but I do think Tom Cotton underscores and gives context to the race, as does Christie, if you want to make it about national security, the server, her failures in Egypt, Libya, Syria, with the Russian reset button…

GT: Well, I think Chris Christie, if you’re talking about Newt versus Chris Christie, first of all, the other thing, Newt can be very obtuse. He can get off topic. He kind of…

HH: Do you think?

GT: He has a little bit of a weird factor. He’s getting older. And I think if it comes down to a comparison with Newt and Christie, I would, if I were him, I’d pick Christie. I think Christie is a far more effective campaigner than Newt is at this point.

HH: Now let me ask you on the Democratic side, I’m afraid they’re going to pick Tim Ryan and not because he’s an acquaintance and a friend from Warren, Ohio who went to my high school, but because he takes Ohio away from Trump by bringing back the blue collar Democrats in Mahoning and Trumbull County. It’s actually the only person I think that can win a state. I don’t think Tim Kaine can win Virginia. I don’t buy that argument. What do you think?

GT: Well, I think Barack Obama’s going to win Virginia. I mean, I think that’s, I think the strategy in terms of how Obama is going to be deployed, just watch this. Barack Obama is going to be on a bus between North Carolina and Virginia from August through October.

HH: (Laughing)

GT: I mean, I really, I mean, that is the utility. You know, I covered the Virginia thing in 2008 and 2012. He’s going to live in Henrico County. Let’s just put it that way.

HH: I hope you’re right. I want him with a microphone 24/7, because he is both the best turnout machine the Democrats have, and the best turnout machine the Republicans have. Glenn Thrush from Politico, have a great 4th of July weekend. We’ll look for that Nate Silver podcast. That’ll be fascinating. Everything from Politico.com has got Glenn Thrush’s name on it, read it.

End of interview.

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