The takeaway from the Columnist To the World? This is a separate, this was a separate, unique arrangement that Hillary Clinton thought she was entitled to because of her celebrity, and there were real consequences to it.
Here’s the transcript of Mark’s appearance with a voice-addled Hugh Hewitt and Hoover Institution research fellow, Lanhee Chen.
HH: Voice challenged with laryngitis today at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, but nevertheless assisted ably by senior research fellow here, Lanhee Chen. And joining us on the phone from, I think, snowbound New Hampshire is Mark Steyn, who you can read everything Mark writes at www.steynonline.com. Mark, hello and welcome to the very non-private server of the Hugh Hewitt Show.
MS: That’s good to know. You sound very husky, Hugh. You sound like you’re about to start singing some Barry White song.
HH: I could very well. Mark, I have Lanhee with me. I want to begin by telling you that ISIS attacked the archaeological site at Nimrod today, and Libya says their oil fields are in the hands of the militants, and ISIS is believed to have 46,000 Twitter accounts. These are all front page stories. But we’re going to talk about email instead, if you don’t mind, because that is the biggest story of the day. And I want to know what you make first from 30,000 feet of Hillary’s intentionality from the beginning of her tenure at State of avoiding scrutiny.
MS: Yes, I think there’s no doubt that it was deliberate. This is why the usual spin isn’t going to work, because she essentially set up a shadow operation to supplant the normal exchange of information within a cabinet department. At midnight last night, I posted a story that a friend of mine, a diplomat tipped me off, not an American diplomat, interestingly enough, but a non-U.S. diplomat, about how the American ambassador to Kenya was fired just three years ago during Hillary’s term for precisely this, for using commercial email systems instead of secure government ones for official business. Hillary Clinton’s State Department fired the U.S. ambassador for Kenya for doing that in 2012. The story’s now been picked up by the Weekly Standard and Drudge and people, and I’m glad, I’m very glad of that, because I think it actually gets to the heart of the matter here, is that this country is decaying from a republic into a banana republic where if you’re an inconsequential person, the rules apply to you. But if you’re a select few, at the Hillary Clinton level, then the laws and the rules don’t apply. This should be a disqualifier. She essentially freelanced, and presumably with the knowledge of the President and other people, she essentially, in defiance of the law, she essentially freelanced an entire cabinet department to Clinton HQ for four years.
LC: Mark, she tweeted last night. Hillary Clinton tweeted last night, you know, something to the effect of I want the State Department to turn over everything that I’ve given them, which I think made matters worse for her. Is there anything that she can do, or that people around her can do to try to head this off in the next couple of days? If you were advising her, what would you tell her?
MS: No, because I think that’s part of, that email last night, that tweet last night, is part of the reason she did this. I’m mired in some tedious court battle over global warming in the District of Columbia at the moment. So I know how these things work. If your regular government email, that is to say your Hillary.Clinton@State.gov, your emails are part of the public record and can be easily accessed under Freedom of Information Act. If they’re part of some private thing and people, and somebody requests them, you have to go to court and then somebody files an interlocutory appeal, and then it’s being heard for the next three years. And by the time there’s any decision comes down, you’re three-quarters of the way through your first term. That’s why she did it. That’s why she did it. And that is what is so repugnant about it, that you have all these rules, you have all these laws. Everything is quite explicit here. Nobody’s saying it’s about codes of behavior and conventions the way it is in Canada or the United Kingdom or whatever. It’s all written down explicitly here. And she says sit down, it doesn’t matter.
HH: Mark Steyn, journalists and pundits exist in the no man’s land between anonymity and celebrity. So I do think that your emails are property of the public because you’re everywhere. But I think she’s going to get away with this, because you say it should be a disqualifier. Here’s Secretary of State Kerry speaking about this today from, I don’t know where he was. Where was he?
HH: In Geneva. Here’s the current secretary of State.
JK: The State Department has had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records, including emails, between her and department officials with the State.gov accounts, as well as cables, as they do for every secretary of State. I think we have all the ones that are State.gov, which are appropriately the ones in the purview of the department. But let me check on that when I actually have time to pay attention to such an important issue when I get home.
HH: So Mark, did you hear the echo, ‘and let me get back to the work the American people elected me to do’ in that dismissiveness from Secretary Kerry?
MS: Yes, I did. And I think it’s all part of a pattern here, that they’re protecting their own in the same way as they protect the President when he decides which bits of U.S. immigration law no longer apply, or which bits of Obamacare law no longer apply, that there is an increasingly open contempt for the rule of law. And I am frankly, I think you’re right that to this extent that she thinks she can get away with it, which is one reason all this stuff is coming up and out now. You know, it’s the usual business. The New York Times guy who broke the story is sort of kind of sheepish about his own scoop. In other words, he’s writing it up now because he doesn’t want the scoop to get out of hand. But it’s a major, it’s a major issue. The problem in Libya on the night of Benghazi was that nobody, either in Benghazi or in Tripoli, can get hold, could get hold of the cabinet office in charge of American foreign policy. The ambassador in Tripoli, the deputy ambassador in Tripoli after the U.S. ambassador has been killed, was able to get the president of Libya on the phone, but he wasn’t able to get anyone who mattered in his own department back in Washington on the phone, because he, he’s like all these other shlub ambassadors. He didn’t have the email for the Secretary of State. That’s absolutely ridiculous. The Australia ambassador in Washington knows how to contact the Australian foreign minister in Canberra. This is a separate, this was a separate, unique arrangement that Hillary Clinton thought she was entitled to because of her celebrity, and there were real consequences to it.
LC: So how, you know, you make a good point about sort of the Times reporters and others almost trying to back off of this now. How does, where does this story go now? And how does the pressure stay on her, because you know, I think I share Hugh’s concern that you know, this goes away, and we’re entering into the campaign season now. It’s very easy for her and people around her to dismiss this as just a political witch hunt. What’s the right way to sort of keep the pressure on here?
MS: Well, I think the right way is to insist that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a candidate like any other. If you look at, for example, the way Scott Walker is treated, where things that he did as some minor county executive years ago of great interest, suddenly of great interest to the national media, but things that Hillary Clinton did as the chief officer of American foreign policy are supposed to just be swept under the rug. I don’t believe that situation can hold. And I think the danger for Mrs. Clinton here is that she’s a weak candidate, and that if enough of this stuff comes out, and enough of this stuff sticks to her, then while it may not be enough to take her out in and of itself, it will actually emphasize, even to Democrats, that this is a weak candidate who it will be difficult to drag across the finish line.
HH: Mark, there’s an article on the front page of the New York Times this afternoon by Trip Gabriel saying Jeb Bush to visit in Iowa, where fatigue with his family has set in. It goes on at great length about Bush fatigue. And I mentioned to Lanhee before the show began that you know, at least it’s a different Bush. It’s not George W., it’s not George H.W., it’s Jeb. These are the same Clintons that have been in our living room since 1990. Is there a point at which we’re just exhausted by them?
MS: Yeah, I mean, I think you’re right that it might actually be a different story if it was Chelsea. I don’t like dynastic politics in a republic at the best of times. I do think that is banana republic stuff. But I think Mrs. Clinton at this stage is just a terribly tired figure. And the reason she was allowed to get away with this is because of that sense of entitlement, that she has to be treated differently because of who she is. And this is what’s going to be the problem when it all comes up, when she actually has to sit across a debating room from the other guys’ candidate, is that she will not be able to make that deference hold until November. So if she can’t function as a normal political candidate in the normal rough and tumble, then Democrats would be well advised to go with Elizabeth Warren or whoever else comes down.
HH: Mark Steyn, always great to talk to you. Visit www.steynonline.com for all of his columns as he begins to follow the E-Pot Dome scandal, or Home Brew scandal, or whatever you want to call it. This one is erupting faster than any other story has hit Hillary since the cattle futures.
End of interview.