Republicans Desperate Attempt to Create a New Clinton Email Scandal

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Update

I weep for humanity, I really do.

Now Snopes has a long posting on this story, as if it’s all something incredibly profound. The Hill has decided to double-down on it, like it’s discovered the holy grail. And the House Oversight Committee has ordered Reddit to preserve the posts, even though every single one is already preserved on the Wayback Machine.

Every member of these organization’s IT departments is laughing their heads off right now. Why?

Because all it was, was a simple question asking how to delete an email address in meta date—the only component of Hillary Clinton’s emails that wasn’t relevant then, and isn’t relevant now.

Earlier

An anonymous Twitter user has cracked a new Clinton email scandal.

Not.

A new story in The Hill about the Clinton emails appeared on my radar today. Evidently the House Oversight Committee is, in all seriousness, investigating a Reddit post.

A deleted Reddit post.

This post was dug up out of the archives by an anonymous Twitter account.

Yeah, a deleted, anonymous Reddit account, dug up by an anonymous Twitter Account. What passes for Deep Throat in the social media age.

The Reddit post is from a person with a handle of stonetear. Our intrepid reporters at The Hill and their little pundit minions have loosely connected the stonetear handle to Paul Combetta.

Paul Who?

Paul Combetta is an IT specialist currently employed by Platte River Networks. He was involved in the maintenance of the Clinton email server when it moved to PRN. He’s the guy who told the FBI, “Oh sh..” because he didn’t establish a new protocol to only save emails for 60 days, and when he realized it later, deleted the emails.

Remember BleachBit and Trump’s acid wash? Yeah, that IT guy.

Anyway, the recovered Reddit post is asking for tech help:

“Hello all- I may be facing a very interesting situation where I need to strip out a VIP’s (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email that I have both in a live Exchange mailbox, as well as a PST file,” stonetear wrote. “Basically, they don’t want the VIP’s email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out. I am not sure if something like this is possible with PowerShell, or exporting all of the emails to MSG and doing find/replaces with a batch processing program of some sort. Does anyone have experience with something like this, and/or suggestions on how this might be accomplished?”

The date on the post is July 23, 2014, the day after the House Benghazi Committee and State reached an agreement on producing Clinton’s emails.

All the little tin hats are just having a field day with this. So much so that I hate to burst their bubble.

But I’m going to burst their bubble.

Whether stonetear is Combetta or not, all this post tells us is that an IT person was trying to strip out an email address from a bunch of emails.

Were they Clinton emails? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. I can say this because a) Hillary Clinton was no longer using the email address at the time the emails were turned over, b) Clinton’s email address was already known at the time, and c) the Clinton emails published by State all display Clinton’s old email address. The email address wasn’t stripped.

You strip out an email address because you don’t want the public to get access to it. Other than that, there’s no reason to do so.

It made absolutely no difference in the Clinton emails.

That isn’t to say that our friends at Judicial Watch didn’t do their usual misrepresentation of the non-story.

Notice the reference to Delete ‘Very VIP’ Emails. No longer deleting email address…emails.

Don’t these people have a life?

Note to Trump: Clinton Emails Have Been Released

In a gentle interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump made the following statement:

“When is she going to release her emails?” Trump asked. “Let her release her emails and I’ll release my tax returns immediately.”

Well, then, we should expect to see Trump’s tax returns any moment now.

Clinton released her email server, and thus all her emails, to the FBI months ago. The FBI has been able to discover several thousand deleted emails, which it turned over to the State Department last month. Eventually, emails determined to be State Department records and that aren’t exempt will be released to the public.

But, to all intents and purposes, Hillary Clinton has released all her emails.

If that isn’t sufficient, two separate judges have demanded that the State Department begin releasing emails responsive to their separate FOIA lawsuits in September. Emails responsive to the FOIA requests will begin to be delivered in one case, September 13, and in another, September 30. And additional emails will be delivered on a rolling basis throughout October.

However, we don’t have to wait. Yesterday, the State Department released nine pages of newly discovered emails to Judicial Watch. These emails are related to its search for Benghazi-related material.

The first email was one of the many where Clinton forwarded the email on to her assistant to print. The forwarded email was from Rick Jasculca, CEO of Jasculca Terman and Associates, sent to Huma Abedin. In it, Jasculca wrote:

Huma, I think you know how much I, and our entire family, loves Hillary as a friend. She has long been both a hero and a role model in our world.

But, it took some kind of special courage to step to the plate and take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi.

At a time where there is literally no moral or political courage being demonstrated anywhere, it seems somehow appropriate that, in the same week, both Malala and Hillary stood tall.

I have never been more proud to call Hillary a friend, and I’d appreciate it if you could share that with her.

Much love,

Grandpa Rick

The other emails echo the same theme. I’ll leave it to you all to guess why Judicial Watch hasn’t released this new FOIA production, yet.

If Trump is a man of his word, he should at least begin to turn over some of his tax records. He can start small: release his 2008 tax return now, as a show of good faith. He can then continue to release one new tax return year for every new FOIA email production.

One tax return not being audited now, and additional returns published as Clinton emails are produced. Surely a man of his word would be eager to follow through on his promise.

The New York Times Invokes its Inner Child

The New York Times published a petulant piece on Hillary Clinton attending a fundraiser, and we discovered why via a tweet from another NYT reporter, Michael Barbaro.

Evidently the New York Times reporters—Amy Chozick and Jonathan Martin—are unhappy that Clinton has not held a press conference. They imply that she makes herself accessible to the wealthy, but not the press or regular folk.

Mr. Trump has pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s noticeably scant schedule of campaign events this summer to suggest she has been hiding from the public. But Mrs. Clinton has been more than accessible to those who reside in some of the country’s most moneyed enclaves and are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to see her. In the last two weeks of August, Mrs. Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times tally

And while Mrs. Clinton has faced criticism for her failure to hold a news conference for months, she has fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley.

The New York Times piece implies that Clinton has spent all of her time at fundraisers—with the unspoken comparison with Donald Trump, media’s Great White Hope.

Press Conference As Entertainment

It is true that Trump has had more press conferences. However, they haven’t been singularly effective or informative. A March press conference played out more like an informercial, one in May was an attack on the Press, and we don’t need to get into the press conference where Trump invited Russian hackers to hack Clinton’s computers.

These press conferences weren’t effective for us…but they were effective for the news media. They were circuses, and stories about them attracted attention. Attention is money in the media biz.

I suspect that’s what the New York Times and other media really want: they want more circuses. They want to trap Clinton in a room and just hammer her: about her email, her foundation, Russian hackers, and even the recent news about Anthony Weiner.

They certainly aren’t interested in the issues, or any of the meticulously detailed proposals that Clinton has provided—two of which, on economics and mental health, she published in August. The same August the New York Times reporters claimed she spent most of her time fundraising.

About Those Fundraisers in August Both Clinton and Trump Attended

In a Presidential race, August is the last month candidates can focus on earning the big bucks necessary to fund both campaigns and advertising for the rest of the race. After August, it’s all campaigning, all the time.

So, yes, Clinton attended a lot of fundraisers in August. However, so did Trump. When he recently canceled events in Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado, he still attended fundraising events scheduled in the same areas.

Clinton also raised over $143 million dollars in August. Yes, that’s a lot of money. Of that money, though, $81 million is going to the DNC and to the state Democratic parties to help with down-ticket races.

We don’t know how much Trump raised in August, but we can take a good guess in how much went to down-ticket races: exactly zero.

Why Not a Motel 6?

The writing that really stood out for me in the Times piece wasn’t the coverage of the fundraising. No, it was the unnecessary and gratuitous aside about the Clinton family’s August living arrangement for the past few years.

Cash-seeking candidates from both parties often rely on August to reach vacationing donors who open their wallets and their palatial homes. In 2012, the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, brought in close to $4 million over a single weekend from events in the Hamptons. And Mr. Trump, while netting $64 million through online and direct-mail fund-raising in July, also made the trek this summer to the eastern end of Long Island to raise cash.

But Mr. and Mrs. Clinton have occupied a particular place in the social fabric of the enclave. Over the past several summers, they have spent the last two weeks of August in a rented 12,000-square-foot home with a heated pool in East Hampton and in a six-bedroom mansion with a private path to the beach in Sagaponack. This year, the former first couple stayed in the guesthouse of Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton compound built on nine acres overlooking Georgica and Lily Ponds.

Question to Ms. Chozick and Mr. Martin: were you expecting the Clintons to stay at Motel 6? Maybe, sleep in a limo with the Secret Service?

I Want to Know: Are the Toilets in the Trump Plane Gold-Plated?

Since expensive homes seem to offend the delicate sensibilities of our intrepid reporters, I wonder if we can expect to see a similar piece on Donald Trump. For instance, I’ve read that there are real diamonds embedded into the entry door to Trump’s home in Trump Tower.

Why diamonds? Diamonds are insipid. Why not emeralds, or rubies?

And is everything in the Trump plane gold-plated? Does that include the toilets? If so, what’s it like to plant your bum on gold? Does it make you feel special?

And the chairs. How can we forget the chairs?

All this kind of puts that rented six bedroom ‘mansion’ with its own path to the beach in perspective, doesn’t it?

If You Want to be Treated Like Journalists, Act Like Journalists

If the Press really wants more access to Hillary Clinton, it’s simple: all they have to do is act like journalists, not paparazzi.

Why should Clinton hold a press conference if every question is going to be about her email? Or the Clinton Foundation? Or her aide’s personal married life? How no one trusts her, and why is that, or her optics are bad. And nothing she says about these subjects will ever make a difference and no matter how many times she answers the same questions, it will never be enough?

The media can also drop the double standard that’s been an all too real component of its Presidential reporting. It’s spent close to two weeks dropping unfounded accusations about the Clinton Foundation based on mish-mashed cherry-picked data, yet it barely gives a mention to the very real problems Donald Trump’s own foundation has in its donation to the political campaign of Florida’s Pam Bondi.

I won’t even get into equating Anthony Weiner’s bad behavior with more trouble for Clinton (your story again, New York Times); a claim reputable journalists reject.

No, if the media wants a press conference than it needs to look at its own behavior, including indulging in the kind of petty snark forming the core of the New York Times piece covered in this story.

No one expects the media to go easy on Clinton, but it needs to remember one important fact: She is running for the Office of President of the United States. There are more important topics to cover than speculating about what was in one specific email sent by a career State employee to Clinton 7 years ago.

Stop playing games, and get down to business. And you’ll get your conference.

Originally published at Crooks & Liars.

OnHub: Google’s Newest Miss/Hit?

OnHub

Google is known for many things, including being wildly successful and a major cultural impact. But its path is also littered by the skeletal remains of failed projects.

Search, Maps, GMail, Chrome, Android, and some of the Nexus devices—not to mention its acquisition of the ubiquitous YouTube, as well as a successful set of hardware with recent purchases of Nest and Dropcam—are decided hits. But they’re matched by the misses, including Dodgeball, Notebook, Wave, Lively, Nexus Q, and Google Glasses. Reader was successful software that Google abandoned, and Google+ never has achieved the reach of Facebook.

Now we have a new entry into the Google sphere of products in which to dominate the world: OnHub. The question becomes, will it be a hit? Or another miss?

Continue reading “OnHub: Google’s Newest Miss/Hit?”

Clinton Emails: FOIA is not the Federal Records Act

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Update

Bloomberg is probably the only news organization expressing the same concerns I have expressed related to this FOIA lawsuit, and the Judge’s decision to allow questioning of Hillary Clinton.

The court said yes again. Here’s where the case — and the court — began to go seriously off track. A FOIA suit seeks information from the government, not from its former officials. The State Department didn’t thwart the law, surely. And even if Clinton wanted to avoid disclosing documents, that’s not an issue for the court in this FOIA case. FOIA provides for no remedies for failure to comply, other than a court order to do so.

Good stuff. But then it turns around and says, well it’s partially Clinton’s fault because she had the server.

No, it’s not Clinton’s fault. Her having private email is no different than Colin Powell having private email and probably 100s of government officials having private email. Having private email is not a valid reason for a Federal Judge violating the parameters of his duty. Or for Judicial Watch making a livelihood out of FOIA requests.

Earlier

I’m still bugged by Judge Emmett Sullivan’s recent decision in one of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits. He should never have allowed Judicial Watch to submit written questions to Clinton.

It’s a given that Clinton will respond with yet another reply of, “It was for convenience”. Tt’s also a waste of everyone’s time. More importantly, Sullivan had no justification acceding to Judicial Watch’s demand. His decision was an abuse of judicial discretion.

There’s a great deal of confusion about what the FOIA really is, and does. Its purpose is to increase government transparency. The mechanism for doing so is a FOIA request. There are rules related to how a request is answered, what material is exempt, and timelines for a response, etc. If you’re an organization like Judicial Watch, which makes a living related to its FOIA requests, you can also sue if the government doesn’t drop everything and respond immediately.

However, the FOIA is only related to a government’s search of existing records. It has nothing to do with ensuring that records are maintained.

Clinton Was Not Involved With the FOIA Request

The only justification for allowing depositions in a FOIA lawsuit is if the Judge believes the answering organization is attempting to thwart a FOIA request. The State Department has already established it didn’t initially search Clinton’s records in response to the original request  because it didn’t have access to those records. When Clinton turned her emails over, State voluntarily agreed to re-open the FOIA lawsuit and search the newly obtained emails.

The State Department is also searching the records recently discovered by the FBI. That it didn’t do so earlier is because the new records were either deleted as personal (or inconsequential) or are records pulled from other people’s email accounts. At no time did State attempt to hide the records, or deliberately thwart an attempt to recover the documents.

To establish that State was not thwarting the FOIA request, the only appropriate people who should have been deposed were those directly related to the FOIA search.

Hillary Clinton is not involved in the State Department’s FOIA search. She’s no longer a State Department employee. And from a FOIA perspective, it doesn’t matter, at all, why she used a personal email server. Not one bit.

Clinton Did Not Violate the Federal Records Act

Now, the storage of records is related to the Federal Records Act. Did Clinton violate the Federal Records Act? No, she didn’t.

She never removed records from the State, as the emails were never stored at State. She used a personal email account, but that’s not a violation of the Act. The only individuals forbidden in using a personal email account are the President and Vice-President and their immediate staff.

And she turned the records over to State as soon as she realized she was supposed to turn the records over to State.

Again, to emphasize the point, why she used a personal email address is irrelevant, even to the Federal Records Act.

It’s All About Optics

Clinton’s lawyers could have appealed Judge Sullivan’s decision, and I strongly suspect they would have won. Of course, they didn’t because everyone would clamor, incessantly, about what does Clinton have to hide, why is she against transparency, and so on.

However, if Judge Sullivan had demanded that Clinton be deposed, then they would have appealed. Judge Sullivan likely knew this, which is why he limited Judicial Watch to written questions.

That Judge Sullivan took a less controversial approach to Judicial Watch’s request doesn’t alter the fact that the law has been abused in this case. Judicial Watch has not once in all of its depositions established that the State Department was deliberately attempting to thwart the FOIA request. There is no justification—none—for not denying Judicial Watch’s obviously politically-motivated request.

Judge Sullivan should never have granted Judicial Watch’s request. By doing so, he’s unnecessarily adding to State’s FOIA burden. And he’s arbitrarily inserting himself into this year’s Presidential election.

All of this is moot. The State Department just filed a status update, stating that it has searched the new records and found nothing related to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Photo by Sam Javanrouth, used under CC License, modified by cropping