Hil­lary’s heel

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— When I wrote the head­line “Hil­lary’s heel,” I was think­ing of Achilles, not Bill, though the for­mer pres­i­dent is usu­ally within nip­ping range of his wife’s pantsuit hem.

Hil­lary Clin­ton’s Achilles’ heel is her very Clin­ton-ness. Rather than tell the truth as soon as pos­si­ble, a re­luc­tance shared by her hus­band dur­ing his pres­i­dency, she has mas­tered the art of tee­ter­ing along the knife’s edge of truth. Like a gym­nast on a bal­ance beam, she man­ages to stay within the nar­row pa­ram­e­ters of law­ful­ness with­out los­ing her foot­ing.

But Hil­lary’s long his­tory of avoid­ing prov­able in­frac­tions de­spite hun­dreds of hours of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and mil­lions in tax­payer ex­pense — from White­wa­ter to Beng­hazi to her pri­vate email server — may soon come to an end, not with a gold medal but with an Olympian loss of what­ever faith re­mained in her in­tegrity.

A batch of emails re­leased Mon­day make clear that Clin­ton Foun­da­tion donors got ac­cess to the State De­part­ment.

Some of the email was be­tween Huma Abe­din, Clin­ton’s deputy chief of staff at the State De­part­ment, and an of­fi­cial at the char­ity. Not all re­quests ap­pear to have been granted, but the co­zi­ness be­tween State and the Clin­ton fam­ily char­ity ex­poses a trou­bling hubris and high­lights the empti­ness of her per­sonal prom­ise to Pres­i­dent Obama to build a fire­wall be­tween the two in­sti­tu­tions when she be­came his sec­re­tary of state.

Among ex­am­ples re­ported by The Wash­ing­ton Post:

— Sports ex­ec­u­tive Casey Wasser­man, whose own fam­ily’s char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion has given the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion be­tween $5 mil­lion and $10 mil­lion, and whose in­vest­ment com­pany paid Bill Clin­ton $3.13 mil­lion in con­sult­ing fees in 2009 and 2010 — sought a visa for a Bri­tish soc­cer player with a crim­i­nal past. It was not granted.

— The crown prince of Bahrain, Sal­man bin Ha­mad al-Khal­ifa, whose gov­ern­ment had given $50,000 to the foun­da­tion, re­quested a last-minute meet­ing with the sec­re­tary of state. Granted.

— U2’s Bono, a reg­u­lar at foun­da­tion events, asked for help in broad­cast­ing a live link to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion dur­ing a con­cert tour. Re­sponse from State: “No clue.”

These dis­cov­er­ies, among others, may not amount to much in terms of ac­tual fa­vors, but they cast doubt on the in­tegrity of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s word. They also go a long way to­ward con­firm­ing her crit­ics’ al­le­ga­tion that the Clin­tons were in a global pay-for-play ar­range­ment.

One cru­cial fact is no longer in dis­pute: Foun­da­tion donors got ac­cess to the State De­part­ment.

The emails be­came pub­lic through a law­suit filed by Ju­di­cial Watch, a con­ser­va­tive watch­dog group, and were among 725 pages of Abe­din’s cor­re­spon­dence. The stash also in­cluded 20 emails be­tween Abe­din and Clin­ton that weren’t in­cluded in the 55,000 pages pre­vi­ously pro­vided to State. Mean­while, the FBI has turned over about 15,000 other emails and doc­u­ments to State that were dis­cov­ered dur­ing the agency’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton’s pri­vate server.

Ju­di­cial Watch is try­ing to get these re­leased as well. In the mean­time, a State De­part­ment spokesman says that many of them were plainly per­sonal.

As if these de­vel­op­ments weren’t prob­lem­at­i­cal enough, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell last week­end de­nied Clin­ton’s claim that he ad­vised her to use a pri­vate server, as he had done, say­ing, “Her peo­ple are try­ing to pin it on me.” Ac­cord­ing to Pow­ell, Clin­ton had been us­ing her server for at least a year be­fore the two dis­cussed how he had man­aged his email.

Whether this con­sti­tutes a “lie” to the FBI, as some are claim­ing, or the re­sult of a faulty mem­ory likely will keep busy bees buzzing for a while. But Clin­ton has big­ger wor­ries as more emails con­tinue to trickle out, re­veal­ing who knows what. But what we al­ready know from FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey is that his agency’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion found in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to charge Clin­ton, though he did say her han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion was “ex­tremely care­less” and that she falsely tes­ti­fied to the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee on Beng­hazi that there was no clas­si­fied ma­te­rial in any of her email. Other than that, Mrs. Lin­coln ... To Re­pub­li­cans, Clin­ton is a se­rial liar. To Democrats, she is the peren­nial tar­get of a right-wing con­spir­acy. Both ap­pear to be marginally cor­rect. The ques­tion for vot­ers may come down to this: How much, if any, sub­stan­tive harm has Clin­ton’s lack of ab­so­lute clar­ity on a given sub­ject or event caused?

The only de­fin­i­tive an­swer thus far is that she has deeply dam­aged what­ever pub­lic trust re­mained — and for a can­di­date, this can be fa­tal.

Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Contact her at kath­leen­parker@ wash­post.com.

WASH­ING­TON

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