Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal widened as the lead Republican investigator into the deadly Benghazi fiasco accused Clinton of failing to hand over months of emails from her tenure.
“There are gaps of months and months and months,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
“If you think [back] to that iconic picture of her on a C-17 flying to Libya — she has sunglasses on, and she has her hand-held device in her hand — we have no emails from that day. And we have no emails from that trip.”
Gowdy’s committee has repeatedly subpoenaed records related to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, so “it strains credibility to believe that if you’re on your way to Libya to discuss Libyan policy that there’s not a single document that’s been turned over to Congress,” he said.
The Benghazi bungler, Americans recently learned, created an email system worthy of a James Bond movie villain when she became top U.S. diplomat in 2009. Clinton used private instead of government email and even established her own private email server that has been traced back to her Chappaqua, N.Y., home address. It seems likely that Clinton’s fast and loose approach to email compromised U.S. national security.
Last week Gowdy issued subpoenas for Clinton’s communications dealing with Benghazi. He also directed Internet companies to preserve the emails.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said using the subpoena power to force the former first lady to hand over the missing emails is necessary because “voluntary cooperation does not guarantee that it’s a crime not to deliver all.”
“A subpoena, which Trey Gowdy issued, is so that in fact it will be a crime if she knowingly withholds documents pursuant to [the] subpoena,” Issa said. “He needed to do that because she wasn’t forthcoming 2 1/2 years ago. She in fact hid the very existence of this until she was caught.”
With the revelation that mountains of electronic correspondence have not been accounted for, the still-unfolding scandal is now becoming eerily reminiscent of President Nixon’s Watergate scandal in which 18 1/2 minutes of audio disappeared from secret recordings made in the White House. The recordings that were intelligible revealed that he attempted to cover up a break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel in the nation’s capital, along with other illegal activities that had taken place during his administration. Nixon resigned in 1974 after the Supreme Court ruled that he had to turn over the tapes to congressional investigators.
“Like Richard Nixon’s tapes, the issue of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails raises the issue of control of evidence, destruction of evidence — and deliberately lying about all of it. Will the media go after Hillary Clinton’s e-mails with the ferocity they went after the issue of Richard Nixon’s tapes? Don’t bet the ranch,” writes conservative commentator Jeffrey Lord. “Which is exactly why Congress has that subpoena power. And why Benghazi Committee chairman Trey Gowdy is using it.”
The barrage of adverse publicity is hurting Mrs. Clinton who is widely expected to seek the presidency in 2016.
Her unannounced candidacy is taking a beating in the polls. Just last year Clinton had a favorability rating of 60 percent or higher. No more. Now she’s even being mocked on “Saturday Night Live” for her self-authored email troubles.
“Hillary Clinton’s troubles are costing her politically, as potential Republican presidential rivals have inched closer to her in 2016 matchups,” according to a new poll from McClatchy-Marist poll.
“The former secretary of state fell below the crucial 50 percent level of support in one-on-one matchups against Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, and she was barely above that benchmark against Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.”
Poll results “may tap into some concerns voters have about her,” said pollster Lee Miringoff. “It gets us back to stuff people find unpleasant about the Clintons.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who just days ago was brushing off the sordid email situation, now urges Clinton to stop ducking the press because “from this point on, the silence is going to hurt her.”
The Obama White House claims the president knew nothing about Clinton’s surreptitious email system even though Obama acknowledges he emailed her while she was a member of his cabinet. As is his habit when things go wrong, Obama claims to have learned about the email imbroglio from media reports.
Of course, it is hard to believe that the tech-savvy president whose enthusiasm for technology –and in particular electronic mail– is well known, didn’t know he was emailing Mrs. Clinton at a non-governmental email address. Surely he had to know such communications might be less than secure.
Then again, being concerned about U.S. national security has never been a priority for President Obama.