Every week, Fox News contributor Karl Rove wraps up the last week in politics and offers an inside look at the week ahead.
This is not over: Hillary Clinton may think the issue of her email server is over because no one was indicted, but it’s not.
In a lengthy 2,314-word statement, FBI Director James Comey found Clinton guilty of lying in every major claim she made to the American people, but then he inexplicably failed to indict her.
Clinton has said what she did was permitted or allowed, but Comey offered no support for her claim. He castigated her and her close aides for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Clinton said she never sent or received classified information, but Comey found 110 emails contained information that was classified at the time they were sent through Clinton’s private server. Clinton “should have known that an unclassified system was no place” for those kind of messages, he said.
As to the 2,000 emails that contained information that was subsequently classified, Comey said even if sensitive information is not marked “classified in an email,” Clinton and her staff should know better and were “still obligated to protect it.”
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Clinton said her private server was not hacked, but Comey said “we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”
“Hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account,” Comey said. “Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent,” and Clinton “used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries.”
Clinton said she turned over all her official emails after a careful review of all of them, but Comey said the FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails” by searching the computers of State Department employees and others who corresponded with Clinton and her aides. Comey explained that Clinton’s lawyers “relied on header information and used search terms” and did not review each message, missing potentially thousands of official emails.
In short, Hillary Clinton has lied about this from the beginning.
Most voters see Clinton as untrustworthy and dishonest. She and her husband appear to think the rules (or in this case, the laws) don’t apply to them. Both these problems got worse last week. It didn’t help that Bill Clinton barged onto Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s plane Monday while it was parked at a Phoenix airport and stayed 30 minutes. Like that didn’t look fishy!
And it wasn’t smart for Team Clinton to leak to the New York Times that Hillary is considering keeping Lynch on as AG if she wins the White House. Like that doesn’t seem like a payoff.
Stay on this channel or change? The question is whether these issues will occupy more of the public dialogue in the final week before the Republican National Convention. The answer to that lies in the hands of Team Trump.
On Saturday The Donald tweeted, “it is impossible for the FBI not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. What she did was wrong.” Twitter has lots of commendable features, but its 140-character brevity is a problem in this instance.
Team Trump is better off prosecuting this issue in detail, rather than jumping to the end of the argument. That is to say, Trump would be better off warming up the teleprompter and systematically working his way through what Clinton did and why it was wrong, and excoriating her for her recklessness with the nation’s secrets.
The Trump campaign (and the candidate) act like everyone knows as much as they do about this issue and there’s no need to methodically explore Clinton’s misrepresentations, evasions and lies. But many swing voters would welcome hearing the case litigated in depth.
Nor is this the only issue worth pursuing: Last week’s report by the House Select Committee on Benghazi reminded Americans that Secretary Clinton and a top deputy refused numerous requests from Ambassador Chris Stevens to increase security for the Libyan mission and that the Obama administration did not deploy any military assets during the 13-hour terrorist attack that cost four Americans their lives.
The report was another reminder to voters that Clinton lied, first to the nation and then to the parents of the four dead Americans, by claiming the attack was spontaneous, inspired by an anti-Muslim web video. She knew this was untrue, but with the U.S. presidential election less than two months away, she didn’t want to admit it was a terrorist attack.
Again, more detail is better than a sound bite, and staging matters. Just as Clinton was wise to go to Atlantic City this week to continue her attacks on Trump’s business record, Team Trump must be concerned about staging, backdrops and supportive voices.
Does he need the money or not? This week will also see whether the Trump campaign’s new expanded finance operation and the campaign’s belated use of internet fundraising solicitations increase the campaign’s fundraising. In May, Trump raised just over $3 million, while Clinton raised $26 million. At the start of June, her campaign had $42 million cash on hand; his had $1.3 million. The Trump campaign says money has been pouring in during the last week, much of it from email appeals signed by the candidate and his son, Eric.
Trump doesn’t help his fundraising requests by saying, as he did last Wednesday, “I don’t even know why I need so much money,” and explaining, “I go around. I make speeches. I don’t even need commercials.” The presumptive Republican nominee is betting that weeks of unanswered television ads in battleground states will either have no impact or can be offset by campaign speeches alone. He may be right, but he would be the first presidential candidate to win that dangerous bet.
He’d be better off admitting that while he may not need as much money as Clinton, he needs to have sufficient funds to mount a strong campaign, and that he’s willing to put in a significant amount of his own money and hopes people will match his largesse with their personal contributions.
VEEP! Unless he plans to unveil his running mate at the convention itself, as George H.W. Bush did in 1992 with Sen. Dan Quayle, this is the week for Trump to announce his vice presidential pick. Then again, Hillary might steal The Donald’s spotlight by naming her pick late this week, too. Either way, both campaigns will spend a considerable amount of their time this week coming to their conclusions on this important decision.
Karl Rove joined Fox News Channel as a political contributor in February 2008. He also currently serves as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads. His latest book is “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters” (Simon Schuster, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @KarlRove.