Hillary Clinton, and by extension the entire left of the American public, are very, very lucky that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president. It’s not just because Clinton’s approval numbers are historically low for all presidential candidates in recent (or distant) memory not named Trump, and it’s not just because a traditional Republican president has the potential to be economically disastrous in the current climate. It’s because without Trump’s incessant provocations—you’ve heard them all by now, each one more outrageous than the last, and if you’re getting bored, just wait a couple hours—the steady trickle of negative news attached to Clinton would bury her, along with the rest of the Democratic party.
The latest release of state department emails (this time by Judicial Watch, and not Russian hackers) shows that Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide, helped coordinate a private meeting between then-Secretary Clinton and Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, whose scholarship foundation gave more than $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative as of 2010. The question, of course, is whether it’s appropriate for a foreign leader to essentially buy time with a sitting Secretary of State, and the answer, for anyone not desperate to protect Clinton’s name, is a definitive “no.”
Josh Schwerin, a Clinton spokesman, said this to Politico:
“Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks…No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.”
Despite this denial-ish verbiage—do we really believe she would have met with some dude from Bahrain who hadn’t given her $32 million?—Clinton has said that she won’t accept foreign donations to the Foundation if elected president. Which begs the question of why she ever thought it was remotely a good idea as Secretary of State.
Nor were these the only meetings Clinton held with top donors; the New York Post helpfully lists far more.
Trump is making hay with the news, as you’d expect, calling the Clinton Foundation “the most corrupt enterprise in political history” and calling for a complete shutdown.
The irony here is that Trump has made a blathering fool of himself so often, with such predictability, that even though he’s probably right on this issue, his demand carries no weight. He’s the boy who cried wolf, writ large. But imagine if someone less offensive on the surface, like Jeb Bush or John Kasich, made the same demand—it would look pretty bad. Arguably, Clinton would be in serious trouble in that kind of race.
Even against Trump, it all looks pretty bad. There’s no answer to the question of when Clinton’s email leaks will stop, or how bad the eventual revelations will become. Perhaps the Russian hackers have a final trick up their sleeves ready for the immediate run-up to the election, or maybe we’ve seen the worst. But this headline from the Washington Post doesn’t bode well: “”FBI Uncovers 14,900 More Documents in Clinton Email Probe. Nor does the fact that the Clinton team keeps stalling on the release of the rest, attempting to delay until October even as a U.S. District Judge declined the request. The entire process has been about as transparent as a mud puddle.
Even after she was cleared by the FBI of wrongdoing, it still appears that the worse news is yet to come. This whole saga simultaneously feels like it’s roughly 1,000 years old, and just getting started.