Politics October 30, 2016: FBI Director Comey’s courageous decision to rise above politics in reopening Clinton case

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FBI Director Comey’s courageous decision to rise above politics in reopening Clinton case

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

FBI Director James B. Comey put his conscience before politics when he sent a letter to Congressional leaders informing them that the FBI found new “pertinent” emails relating to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email case. Comey faces threats and opposition to revealing the news a little over a week before Election Day. According to news reports on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, the Justice Department and Attorney General Loretta Lynch was against Comey’s letter and warned him against it. Now the Clinton campaign is struggling to survive the devastating blow so close the election with the only way they know to attack the FBI director and dismiss it all yet again.

An anonymous government source revealed that Lynch was against Comey interfering in the presidential race. The source explained, “The AG’s position is consistent with the department’s position not to take investigative steps that would influence an election so close to an election and to not comment on ongoing investigations. Director Comey decided to operate independently of that guidance by sending that letter to the Hill.”

Lynch did not speak directly to Comey on the issue but staying out of the election, has long been the silent policy for federal officials. The source said, “The position of the department was made clear to the FBI.” In 2012, former Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo on the practice, writing, “Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose is inconsistent with the Department’s mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution.” Such a memo reeks of politics and a desire of ambition above the good of the nation.

Comey knew his letter, and the developments would be unpopular and misunderstood, but he believed it was necessary to make them public. The FBI director wrote a note to his staffers before sending the letter to Congress, explaining his motives, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” The FBI is supposed to a politically independent agency. Comey only discovered news of the emails on Thursday, Oct. 27, while FBI agents knew about them since early October keeping them from their director and possibly influencing the presidential campaign.

Comey’s sending the letter of Congressional Committee Chairmen has rocked the 2016 presidential campaign and has become “the October Surprise” in what was already a rollercoaster of a campaign ride. Republican nominee Donald Trump has praised Comey profusely and Democrats mostly nominee Clinton’s campaign staff have criticized the FBI director. Both sides have been demanding that Comey provides more details about the investigation and the possible content of the emails. Comey keeps his hand close and will probably not reveal more details publicly until he is certain of the probe’s direction.

On Friday, Oct. 26, hours after the news broke; Clinton spoke to reportersduring her campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton demanded, “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes…. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.” Clinton was also insistent selling the line; the new emails “will not change the conclusion.” On Saturday, Clinton continued her criticismduring a campaign rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. Clinton accused, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange, it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

Clinton’s running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine also slammed Comey’s letter saying interview on Friday with Vice News. Kaine echoed his running mate, saying, “When you do this 11 days before a presidential election and you don’t provide many details, but details are apparently being given by the FBI to the press, this is very, very troubling, and we hope that the director- and we really think that he should give a clearer accounting of exactly whats going on right now.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), “the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee” was furious at Comey sending the letter so late in the campaign. Feinstein issued a statement on Friday, attacking the director, “The FBI has a history of extreme caution near election day so as not to influence the results. Today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”

The news initially paralyzed Clinton’s campaign on Friday. On Saturday, the Clinton campaign seemed set to be at war and attack the FBI director for his decision. According to CNN, campaign officials were critical calling Comey’s letter “light on facts” and “heavy on innuendo.” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta “accused” Comey of not being “forthcoming with the facts,” and “providing selective information.” Writing on Medium on Saturday, Podesta also expressed that the FBI Director’s decision was “bewildering” and “unfair to voters.”

Campaign manager Robby Mook had harsher words for the FBI director, saying “The Justice Department’s longstanding practice is: Don’t do anything seen as trying to influence an election. It’s completely unfair to Secretary Clinton and it’s really unfair to the voters.” The Clinton camp intends to attack Comey for being a Republican, praise the FBI’s professionalism and tout the director’s decision in July not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton and his subsequent testimony to Congress in September in an attempt to downplay the disastrous news.

What is uncertain is how the news will affect long-time Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s role in the campaign. After all, her and her husband’s disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner’s devices that had the emails in question. The federal investigation into her husband sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl prompted the investigation and led to the discovery.

Trump has long said Abedin’s marriage to Weiner was a liability to Clinton, even now, as they are separated. Trump commented at a campaign stop on Saturday in Golden, Colorado questioning, “Huma’s been a problem. I wonder if Huma’s going to stay there. I hope they haven’t given Huma immunity because it seemed that everybody that walked down the sidewalk got immunity. She knows the real story. She knows what’s going on.” Abedin was noticeably absent on Saturday as Clinton campaign in the battleground state of Florida.

The information the FBI discovered must have been damaging or Comey would not have broken ranks. No matter the content the fact that former disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner had access on his computer to any State Department emails, documents or work product is in itself troubling and demonstrates a risk to national security, something Trump has long warned the public concerning.

An anonymous official told the Los Angeles Times, the emails were not to or from Clinton and some might be repetitive, while Fox News reported that the FBI found tens of thousands State Department emails on Weiner’s computer. Comey felt the public needed to know all the facts before voting; it would have irresponsible to hide the facts. Should the information be damaging, the nation cannot face the divisiveness of another Watergate scandal, when terrorism threatens the country and the world, Comey did not want to be responsible for that.

The Clintons repeated scandals and the changing stories around her email server and handling of classified information made the new development all the more necessary to share to the electorate for them to make the most informed decision as possible, even if the Democrats, Clinton campaign, and Obama Administration do not like it. Throughout their national public life, the Clintons have a had a steady stream of scandals, blaming them on their opponents, repeatedly calling them unfair attacks, dismissing them as reasons why they should continue to go on without lasting consequences. Their entitlement has gone too far and too long as the nation and voters continually give them a free pass. National security in a dangerous era is on the line now, it is the FBI’s duty to above all else to “protect and defend” the country and “uphold criminal laws,” the nation needs to know if a potential president is deserving and abiding by the rules.

Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom has come out to deride the Clintons’ repeated scandals in a recent radio interview calling the Democratic nominee a “pathological liar.” Kallstrom agrees with Comey’s decision to send the letter, saying, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.” Kallstrom says FBI officials were angry at the original investigation, which was essentially stifled by the White House. Kallstrom fervently believes Clinton’s action should prevent her from the presidency, expressing, “God forbid we put someone like that in the White House.”

As the nation’s highest law enforcement agent, Comey felt that his duty to his country superseded politics or the desire of President Barack Obama to secure his legacy. The Clinton’s campaign attacks on Comey show a lack of respect to law enforcement, proving that for the Clintons’ no matter what they say public service is not about the public but what is best for their ambitions. No matter who wins the election, the public should applaud and revere Comey’s decision to place the country’s safety before politics; his decision to rise above it all is the ideal of what law enforcement is all about.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

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Politics October 28, 2016: FBI is reopening Clinton email investigation is it the October Surprise of 2016?

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FBI is reopening Clinton email investigation is it the October Surprise of 2016?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CBS News

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is the gift the keeps on giving. Just over a week before the election on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, the FBI reopened their investigation into Clinton’s private server after finding new relevant emails. Chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the first to announce the reopening of the investigation after receiving a letter from FBI Director James B. Comey. NBC News became the first news source to report on the investigation. The news media is hailing the turn of the events the October Surprise of 2016.

On Friday morning, Oct. 28 Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted: “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.” Chaffetz announced the news after FBI Director Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional chairmen including Chaffetz informing them of their decision to reopen the case.

In the letter, Comey writes, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

According to the Associated Press, the new emails were not sent or received from the private email server Clinton used during her tenure as Secretary of State. According to the New York Times, the emails came from the electronic devices from Clinton’s most trusted aide, Huma Abedin owned by her and soon to be ex-husband Anthony Weiner. The emails were found during an investigation into Weiner, a former Congressman over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl by sending “sexually explicit text messages.”

The FBI quickly seized the devices and after being briefed Comey decided to reopen his investigation into Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State. However, Comey would not indicate how long the renewed investigation would last as he reported to the Congressional chairmen. Comey concluded in the letter, “Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump was quick to seize on the news what could be his best opportunity to capture the White House. Trump commented on the new development during his rally in Manchester, N.H. announcing the news to his supporters. Trump expressed, “This is bigger than Watergate” and admitted the system “might not be as rigged as I thought.”

The GOP nominee declared, “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into office. I have great respect for the FBI and Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake they made.” As Trump was speaking his supporters went wild chanting “lock her up.” Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was equally enthused about the development, writing on Twitter, “A great day in our campaign just got even better.”

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus also issued a statement praising the decision. Priebus said, “The F.B.I.’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for the Director of Intelligence to cease allowing Clinton receive the national security briefing nominees receive. In his statement, Ryan said, “Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” Continuing the Speaker demanded, “This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.”

Meanwhile, Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta respondeddemanding that the FBI to release details of the investigation. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”

Both Trump and the Republicans have longed criticized the FBI and Comey for deciding not to prosecute Clinton for endangering national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State. In July, Comey announced his decision not to prosecute Clinton after a lengthy FBI investigation. Comey said on July 5, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Although Comey expressed, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he called Clinton’s handling of her emails “extremely careless.” Clinton has always dismissed the issue as merely a “mistake” of judgment.

The news could not come at a better time for Trump’s campaign. After being on the defensive for nearly a month after the release of a 2005 tape where the GOP nominee bragged about being able to grope women as he liked because of his celebrity status, and then 12 accusations from women that he made inappropriate sexual advances, Trump now can go on the offensive. The GOP nominee has longed railed about “crooked Hillary” now he might have some basis.

Clinton’s poll numbers surged with Trump’s scandals, but as WikiLeaks released her campaign chairman John Podesta emails depicting the unflattering inner workings of her campaign and news that her husband Bill Clinton explicitly blurred the lines with his Clinton Foundation, Clinton’s poll numbers have fallen. The poll numbers already showed Trump still had a possible path to the White House, now the FBI may have tipped the campaign in his favor.

The public and news media went into a frenzy on social media over the new development, as everyone believed Clinton had the election locked up and the only issue was her margin of victory. Clinton’s campaign worried of complacency; they were right. In an election so unpredictable there was bound to be a game-changing October Surprise, there was none until now. The reopened investigation might just change the whole outcome of the nastiest election in American history.

The full text of FBI Director James Comey’s letter:

In previous congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.

In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agree that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether the contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.

Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete the additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics October 26, 2016: Trump is leading in Florida are his chances of winning improving?

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Trump is leading in Florida are his chances of winning improving?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNBC

A major battleground state is moving into Republican Nominee Donald Trump’s column, Trump now leads in Florida. According to the latest Bloomberg Politics poll published on Wednesday morning, Oct. 26, 2016, Trump now has a slight lead over opponent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida, one of the must-win battleground state. Meanwhile, a Florida Atlantic University Business and Polling Initiative also released on Wednesday, indicates Clinton has an advantage in Florida with early voters, but Trump leads with those planning to vote on Election Day Nov. 8. The numbers show a race getting closer as Election Day approaches.

The Bloomberg Politics poll has Trump with 45 percent support from Florida voters, while Clinton has 43 percent support in a four-way race. In a two-way race, Trump has 44 percent to Clinton 44 percent support. Trump’s advantage is with independent voters in a two-way race Trump has 43 percent support from independents while Clinton has 41 percent. In a four-way race, Trump’s lead widens to 44 percent while Clinton loses 4 percent falling to 37 percent.

In contrast, the Florida Atlantic University Business and Polling Initiative has Clinton with a three-point advantage. Clinton leads 46 to Trump’s 43 percent. The poll mainly looked at early voter trends, where Clinton lead widens 54 percent to 41 percent among voters that have already voted. Trump has the advantage with voters that are waiting for Election Day 50 to 36 percent. The poll also looked at nominees’ likeability among voters, where it seems that they are choosing between the lesser of two evils. Clinton has 44 percent favorability and a 54 unfavorable rating. Trump fares worse with only 40 percent favorability and a 57 percent unfavorable rating.

The polls infuse some hope in the Trump campaign. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday determined the GOP nominee would win the state. Conway expressed, “The path would be much harder without Florida, and that’s why you’re going to see him — but we’re going to win Florida, so it’s not even part of the calculation.” According to RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average Clinton only leads Trump by 1.6 percent in Florida.

Some national polls are indicating that Clinton is losing some of her steam after Trump’s scandals over a 2005 tape where he boasted of groping women and the 11 allegations of sexually inappropriate advances afterward, which were the most challenging stretch of his campaign. With some reliable recent polls showing the race a virtual tie. The RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average shows Clinton’s once 7.1 percent lead dropping to 5.1 percent.

Trump is also faring well in the important must-win battleground state of Ohio. According to a Remington Research (R) poll released on Tuesday, Oct. 25, Trump leads by 4 percent, 46 to Clinton’s 42 percent. A Suffolk University poll from Thursday, Oct. 20 shows it was a tie in Ohio with Clinton and Trump both with 45 percent. Clinton’s lead is narrowing Pennsylvania with her RCP average falling from 8.7 points to 4.4 points. The latest Monmouth University poll for New Hampshire has Clinton going from a 9 point to only 4 points.

Trump senior policy adviser, Peter Navarro released a memo on Wednesday is that the tide is turning towards Trump. Navarro wrote, “The message of a candidate of change draining the swap is growing louder and louder, and it is going to get to a crescendo by Election Day.” A number factors are lowering Clinton’s numbers, Wikileaks release of campaign chairman John Podesta emails give insight into her campaign, and they do not endear her to the electorate, and the news from Tuesday, Oct. 25, that ObamaCare premiums are going to be raised by 25 percent.

The movement shows the campaign is far from over even though there are only 13 days left. CNBC senior columnist Jake Novak might have said it best in op-ed published on Wednesday, Oct. 26 “Stop it with the Clinton coronation. Trump can still win.” Novak indicates that polls show a must closer race than most pundits want to admit, while he also points to Stony Brook University Professor Helmut Norpoth, whose model successfully predicted all elections since 1912 except for 1960 claiming Trump will win.

As Novak notes, both candidates have something against them neither are liked, but Trump still is attracting larger than average crowds for his rallies showing his appeal to his base. Also going in Trump’s favor with a vast majority of Americans believing the country is moving in the “wrong direction,” Trump is campaigning as the candidate of change while Clinton is mostly campaigning as an incumbent continuing President Barack Obama’s legacy. The economy is still facing problems has been a major concern for disgruntled voters that have both supported Trump and in the Democratic primaries Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

With nearly two weeks to Election Day, Clinton supporters and some of the more liberal media can cheer and calculate her margin of victory, but the campaign is not over. Like the old sayings of counting your money before you have it or your chickens before they hatch, Clinton has not won yet. The 2016 cycle has a been a roller coaster of a campaign, one of the most volatile in history, and there might be some more surprises in store. Hopefully, only by the early hours of Nov. 9 will one candidate be declared the winner, only then can they and their supporters celebrate and bask in the glow of victory.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics October 22, 2016: Third Clinton-Trump debate filled with policy and attacks

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Third Clinton-Trump debate filled with policy and attacks

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Politico

With only three weeks to Election Day, the third presidential debate was the most placid of the confrontations between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The debate on Wednesday evening, Oct. 19, 2016, was held at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. Except a few zingers on either side, attacks were to a minimal as policy took center stage. As The Hill noted “gun rights, abortion, entitlements, immigration and foreign policy” were discussed in a campaign where policy has taken a back burner to insults and scandals.

Clinton changed her game aiming to finish off Trump in the eyes of the voters by attacking his weaknesses, rather than play it safe as she did in the previous debates. The Democratic nominee hammered Trump on being a choke artist, his relationship with Russia, past and present positions and especially his recent scandals with women attempting to show him up as both racist and sexist. Clinton wanted to make sure that the voters know she is the only candidate prepared for the presidency.

Clinton is leading in the polls by wide margins and is looking to expand the electoral map in her favor and win big. Clinton has been campaigning in Georgia, Alaska and Utah, who traditionally vote Republican. The Democratic nominee is looking for a legitimate mandate for her agenda to counter the Republicans. She is also seeking to help the Democrats recapture the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Pundits agree Trump has his best performance of all the debates, but trailing in the polls both nationally and in battleground states Trump needed a game changer and memorably strong performance he did not accomplish that. The nominee stayed on the campaign and Republican message on the issues but also in his attacks on Clinton’s weaknesses; the private email server she used as Secretary of State, Clinton Foundation’s foreign donations and WikiLeaks release of John Podesta campaign emails.

After the first 30 minutes, Trump reverted to some of his old tricks, interrupting Clinton and the moderator and making some side remarks. Trump needed to act presidential because voters are most concerned about his temperament; instead, he fell into Clinton’s traps. Trump made one huge mistake, and that was all anyone remembered from the debate in answering a question about his remarks accusing a rigged election he refused to agree that he would concede the election if he loses. His comments countered his campaigns and angered Republicans. The debate was nasty, with the shaking hand’s protocol omitted before or after the debate, but was not nearly as bad as the two previous debates.

Here are some of the best lines of the third and final debate night of the 2016 campaign:

Trump’s third response about whether he wants Roe v. Wade, abortion overturned by the Supreme Court:

“Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”

Trump on late term abortion:

“I think it’s terrible, if you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”

Trump on criminals and illegal immigration:

“Once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”

Clinton on Trump not bringing up his infamous border wall when he met with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto in August:

“When it comes to the wall that Donald talks about building, he went to Mexico. He had a meeting with the Mexican president. Didn’t even raise it. He choked,and then got into a Twitter war because the Mexican president said, ‘we’re not paying for that wall.’”

Clinton on WikiLeaks releasing campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails:

“You are very clearly quoting from WikiLeaks and what’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans.”

Trump responding about Clinton claiming in her paid Wall Street speeches released by WikiLeaks that she supported “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders”:

“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders, OK?”

Clinton about Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin; Russia is believed to have hacked Podesta’s email account for WikiLeaks:

“[Russian President Vladimir Putin would] rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”

Trump’s response to Russia and Putin:

“No puppet, no puppet… You’re the puppet…. I never met Putin. This is not my best friend. But if the United States got along with Russia, wouldn’t be so bad.”

Trump on the nearly ten allegations by women that he behaved sexually inappropriate with them:

“I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it and I think it’s her campaign.”

Trump’s response to Clinton as she discussed raising taxes on the wealthy. Clinton also took a jab at the GOP nominee for using a loophole that let him out of paying federal taxes for 18 years:

“Such a nasty woman.”

Clinton responding to Trump about lacking respect for women and sexist rhetoric:

“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.”

Trump counter responding to his treatment of women:

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

Clinton after Trump attacked the Clinton Foundation f or accepting foreign donations from countries that restrict human rights:

“I’d be happy to compare what we do with the Trump Foundation which took money from other people and bought a six-foot portrait of Donald. I mean, who does that?”

Trump’s response of moderator Chris Wallace question about his comments on a rigged election:

Wallace: “I want to ask you here on this stage tonight do, you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?”

Trump: “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now…. What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”

Clinton commenting on Trump’s response about accepting the election results referring to his Emmy nominations for his reality TV show “The Apprentice”:

Clinton: “Well, Chris, let me respond to that because that’s horrifying…. There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged. This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling.”

Trump: “Should have gotten it.”

Clinton on Trump’s plan to vet Syrian refugees because they could be terrorists:

“The killer of the dozens of people at the nightclub in Orlando, the Pulse nightclub, was born in Queens, the same place Donald was born.”

Trump on Obama Administration’s foreign policy and the civil war in Syria:

“It’s a catastrophe. Have you seen it? Have you seen it? Have you seen what’s happened to Aleppo?”

Trump on trade deals that increased the national debt:

“We’ve had people that are political hacks making the biggest deals in the world.”

Trump telling Clinton she is all talk and no action:

“The problem is, you talk, but you don’t get anything done, Hillary. You don’t.”

Clinton responding by contrasting her and Trump’s preparedness and accomplishments to become president:

“You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, and I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings. In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine. And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics October 22, 2016: The real October Surprise will Monica Lewinsky speak out on the Clintons?

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The real October Surprise will Monica Lewinsky speak out on the Clintons?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: TED Talks

The 2016 campaign has descended into the gutter, policy positions rarely matter, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s political scandals are a blip and all that seems to concern the news media or the voters are the sexual exploits or lewd remarks of Republican nominee Donald Trump versus Former President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. The one woman at the center of the debate eighteen years later, Monica Lewinsky has remained quiet on the whole campaign, could her insights and opinion, be the October Surprise that could resolve who is personally worse, Bill Clinton or Trump?

Trump aiming to hit Clinton low started the game, throughout the campaign Trump has repeatedly brought up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. Trump went as far as to bring three of Clinton’s victims, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey to the pre-debate press conference and then they were his guests at the debate. Additionally, Kathy Shelton was in attendance, Shelton was raped in 1975 when she was 12, Hillary Clinton defended the 41-year-old man accused of raping her and ensured he received convicted of lesser charges with jail time of less than a year. Trump has not only attacked Bill Clinton’s sex scandals but Hillary’s complicit behavior, blaming, threatening and ripping apart the reputations of the women involved all with the aim of protecting her and her husband’s political futures.

Bringing up the Clinton scandals came back to haunt Trump as a 2005 tape emerged with Trump bragging about kissing and grabbing women because he can be as a celebrity and talked about his failed attempt for an affair with a married TV host. Trump apologized, called it “locker room talk” and denied acting on it during the second presidential debate. After that denial, ten women have come forward claiming that between 1980 and 2007 Trump kissed, fondled or grabbed them without their permission.

While all of Clinton’s former accusers have come out against Hillary’s campaign calling her an enabler, the only one person refuses to be brought into the fray, Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was at the center of Clinton’s scandal in 1998 while he was president. The affair with the former White House is the reason he perjured himself leading to him being only the second president impeached.

Lewinsky stayed out of the public eye for years, reemerging in May 2014 with an article inVanity Fair entitled “Shame and Survival” about the ordeal she went through during the scandal and being at the center of the media storm and their mocking. Lewinsky wrote, “Anybody who has gone through any kind of trauma knows it doesn’t just go away with a snap of the fingers. It lives as an echo in your life. But over time the echo becomes softer and softer.” She then became an anti-cyber bullying advocate remaining in the public eye, but much to the chagrin of the press refusing to comment on the election or her position on Clinton’s run.

The Clinton and Trump camps are fighting whose sex scandals are worse. The Democrats who long defended Clinton’s actions as president, saying the personal actions should not matter to his duties as president are contradicting themselves when it comes to Trump’s actions. Both behaviors are reprehensible whether founded or not, the difference remains Clinton’s actions were as president. Clinton abused his powers with a star struck White House intern then perjured himself in a deposition, lied to the nation and then ended up impeached all while Democrats, some Republicans and the public primarily gave him a free pass with high approval ratings.

The issue has become why is good for one but not the other, when the actions mostly come under the same umbrella, inappropriate and abusive. Recently Vice President Joe Biden spoke to NBC and said, “I can’t make any excuse for Bill Clinton’s conduct. And I wouldn’t attempt to make excuses for his conduct. But he paid a price. He was impeached. And he expressed his deep sorrow and acknowledged what he did.”

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama ravaged Trump‘s behavior in a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. The First Lady said Trump’s comments have “shaken me to my core in a way I couldn’t have predicted.” Mrs. Obama continued, “This is not normal, this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable. We simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer. Now is the time for us all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”

Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence is certain that Clinton‘s actions are worse than anything Trump had said or is accused of because they happened when Clinton was president. In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Indiana Gov. Pence noted, “Bill Clinton didn’t just talk about doing things, he did them. It took a while to find all that out. He was under oath in 1998 and he finally came clean on having taken advantage of a 23-year-old intern at the White House named Monica Lewinsky, in the most appalling behavior by an American president in the history of this country.”

Despite being at the center of the storm, yet again with a presidential election in the balance, Lewinsky is staying out of the debate. On Friday, Oct. 14, a photographer stopped her at Los Angeles International Airport at 5:30 A.M. asking her if “she thought Trump was ‘fit to be president‘.” Lewinsky avoided the question, responding, “It’s 5.30 in the morning, you should be asleep. You should not be at the airport bothering people with your camera.” She later tweeted, “Nothing like a pap at LAX somehow spotting u in seconds… when ur w/o a stitch of make up @ 5.30 AM. gee, thx @Delta!”

Is Lewinsky staying out of the race because she wants to, and might still have a soft spot for the former president or like Trump accuses the Clinton’s made sure she kept her mouth shut with a legal agreement or threat? Public figures like to stifle free speech if they can especially where personal matters are concerned that might destroy their careers no matter how it affects who they stifle.

What is certain is her best friend actor Alan Cumming is supporting Clinton and Lewinsky has called herself a “conscientious Democrat.” Throughout the scandal, Hillary Clinton made her opinion of Lewinsky known, but Lewinsky never focused on the then First Lady. The clearest view Lewinsky has of Hillary comes from her Vanity Fair article.

Lewinsky spoke out about then to recent reports that Clinton called Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon,” to her friend Dian Blair. Lewinsky responded, “Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband’s mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman — not only me but herself — troubling.”

In the article, Lewinsky seems to defend Hillary, writing, “If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in ‘gross inappropriate behavior,’ the affair was, nonetheless, ‘consensual (was not a power relationship).’”

Lewinsky also defended Bill behavior with her, “My boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship.” However, Lewinsky noted the spiral in her life came from the Clintons’ actions, “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.” The abuse and the media’s scrutiny became so bad that she recounts, “I, too, was suicidal, so much that her mother was worried and scared Lewinsky “would be literally humiliated to death.”

If Lewinsky would emerge in the debate now and give her opinion, it might sway opinion, as to whose behavior with women, is worse Bill Clinton or Trump. Lewinsky’s comments or even previously unrevealed insights into both Bill and Hillary Clinton could even more detrimental to Clinton’s campaign than the political scandals that have dogged but not fazed her.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics October 22, 2016: Bombshells: Clinton’s WikiLeaks problem over release of controversial Podesta emails

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POLITICS

Bombshells: Clinton’s WikiLeaks problem over release of controversial Podesta emails

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

With the news media focusing on Republican nominee Donald Trump’s allegations of groping women, there is little focus on a more political related scandal, WikiLeaks of controversial emails from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. On Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began their release of emails from Podesta’s hacked account. The organization plans to release up to 50,000 emails throughout October, on an almost daily basis.

Julian Assange, the founder WikiLeaks wants their release of a treasure trove of emails from Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to be this election’s October Surprise. The emails give insights into Clinton’s privilege, and a strategic campaign full of hypocrisy and duplicity when it comes to demographic, religious groups and policy positions. The emails show Clinton only cares about one thing winning the presidency, and her public message is only a means to an end.

Amidst his scandal of sex impropriety, pundits are criticizing Trump for not taking advantage of the email leaks. The Hill writes, “The emails, from hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton confidante John Podesta’s email account, may be the best chance Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has of knocking off Clinton, the Democratic nominee and heavy favorite to win the White House.”

Throughout the week, the Clinton campaign would not entirely confirm the emails authenticity. They have proceeded to blame the Russians for the hacking and breaching national security in an attempt to sway the election and elect a Republican president. Clinton’s campaign is angry at the news media for covering the details of the emails rather than the national security breach. Clinton is also blaming Trump for being sympathetic to Russia and comparing the leaks to Watergate.

Some of the most controversial releases made public the following bombshells:

Wall Street speeches transcripts:

The first batch of emails WikiLeaks released Friday, Oct. 7, included excerpts of Clinton’s highly guarded paid speeches to Wall Street financial institutions. Throughout the primary campaign, opponent Bernie Sanders demanded she releases those transcripts, but Clinton refused, putting their content more into question. There has long been speculation that Clinton had a close relationship and pro-Wall Street approach that differed from her later campaign rhetoric.

In speeches to Goldman Sachs and BlackRock delivered in 2014, Clinton stated that to play the political game one has to be “deceptive.” Clinton said she is that “kind of far removed” from the issues most Americans face and “you need both a public and a private position.” Clinton said, “We had a solid middle class upbringing… And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven’t forgotten it.”

Clarifying in another speech from 2013 to the National Multi-Housing Council, Clinton explained, “Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least.”

Clinton expressed support for “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.” Clinton gave a speech to Banco Itau in 2013, declaring, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders … I think we have to have a concerted plan to increase trade already under the current circumstances.” Continuing Clinton said, “There is so much more we can do, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit, but businesses on both sides have to make it a priority, and it’s not for governments to do but governments can either make it easy or make it hard and we have to resist protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access, and to trade, and I would like to see this get much more attention.”

Clinton also dismissed terrorism as a danger for Americans in the country in a speech to the Global Business Travelers Association in August 2013. Then Clinton said, terrorism is “not a threat to us as a nation,” but in general is “a real threat.” Clinton told an audience that terrorism “is not going to endanger our economy or our society, but it is a real threat,” she said. “It is a danger to our citizens here at home, and as we tragically saw in Boston, and to those living, working, and traveling abroad.”

Planning to spin the Wall Street speeches:

If ever Clinton’s paid Wall Street speeches had to be released Clinton’s campaign was ready with contingency plans to spin them in a positive light. In November 2015, Clinton aides Brian Fallon, Jake Sullivan and Dan Schwerin, and advisor Mandy Grunwald considered leaking excerpts of Clinton’s speech to Deutsche Bank from October 2014 to counter a Politico reports about her speeches especially those from Goldman Sachs. Sanders’ campaign was applying a lot of pressure over the speeches.

In an email from Nov. 20, Schwerin, who serves as Clinton’s speechwriter wrote an email, saying, “I wanted to float one idea. HRC did a paid speech in NYC for Deutsche Bank. I wrote her a long riff about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats.”

Schwerin suggested that speech because although it was “definitely not as tough or pointed as we would write it now, but it’s much more than most people would assume she was saying in paid speeches.” He thought maybe it should be leaked to the press because “perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power.”

Schwerin, however, was concerned that releasing an excerpt would force the campaign to release all the emails, writing, “Downside would be that we could then be pushed to release transcripts from all her paid speeches, which would be less helpful (although probably not disastrous). In the end, I’m not sure this is worth doing, but wanted to flag it so you know it’s out there.”

Clinton’s spokesman Brian Fallon thought of spinning the speeches, which Clinton was only telling Wall Street what they wanted to hear. In an email from Nov. 23, Fallon wrote, “I think we could come up with a vanilla characterization that challenges the idea that she sucked up to these folks in her appearances. But then use AP’s raising of this to our advantage to pitch someone to do an exclusive by providing at least the key excerpts from this Deutsche Bank speech. In doing so, we could have the reporting be sourced to a ‘transcript obtained by [news outlet]’ so it is not confirmed as us selectively providing one transcript while refusing to share others.”

In the end, Clinton’s camp decided against releasing the excerpt seeing more damage than good, and raising the possibility; they would have to release more including the rest of the Deutsche Bank speech where Clinton seemed to sympathize with the financial industry.

Clinton received primary town hall debate question from CNN:

During the primaries against Bernie Sanders, Clinton had preferential treatment going as far as obtaining a question to CNN town hall held in March 2016 in advance. Present Chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile, who then commented for CNN emailed Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri. Brazile told Palmeri “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.”

Then the email included six sentences that compromised the question: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responded, “Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” At the town hall moderator TV One’s Roland Martin used the same data included the email and an audience member asked an almost identical question. Martin said, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?” Martin moderated the town hall with CNN anchor Jake Tapper. All parties involved have since denied sharing or passing along the question.

Clinton campaign coordinated with DOJ over emails release:

Clinton’s preferential treatment extended beyond the campaign to the Obama Administration, who defended her long after leaving her post as Secretary of State. The Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits the emails from her private server with the Clinton campaign just as recently as May 2015. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon wrote in an email “DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in this case this morning, so we could have a window into the judge’s thinking about this proposed production schedule as quickly as today.” Fallon was a former spokesman for the State Department during Clinton’s tenure.

Clinton camp insults Catholics and Evangelical Christians:

The leaked emails show the Clinton campaign’s animosity towards Catholics and Evangelical leaders. A 2011 email thread with Podesta, and communications director Jennifer Palmieri and John Halpin, who is a senior fellow at the Podesta founded liberal think tank Center for American Progress” proceeds to mock those two religious groups.

Halpin wrote that Catholic media titans 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp Chairman Robert Thomson belong their religion because of “systemic thought and severely backward gender relations.” Palmieri, who is Catholic responded by mocking Catholics and Evangelicals, “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable, politically conservative religion — their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelical.”

Clinton used harsher rhetoric in her Benghazi testimony:

In an earlier draft of her opening statement to House Benghazi committee as part, her testimony in October 2015 Clinton used harsher rhetoric to attack the Republicans leading the committee. The tone in the earlier draft released by WikiLeaks differed considerably in the opening lines, where Clinton wrote, she “will not be a part of a partisan slugfest on the backs of dead Americans.”

Clinton’s director of speechwriting Dan Schwerin emailed a draft of the earlier version of the speech to Clinton campaign staff for their opinion. Schwerin tells them about the tone, saying he “aimed for high minded but it’s possible this will come off as fairly pugilistic. Maybe that’s just fine, but see what you think.” Clinton’s final draft did not include that line, but instead focused on the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the attack on Sept. 11, 2011. Clinton discussed her relationship with the ambassador and a personal anecdote from his mother.

Clinton’s strategically chose policy positions based on politics:

Clinton’s game plans have nothing to with passion for policy positions or issues but is guided entirely by winning. One case point from the leaked emails is Clinton’s changing position on the Keystone XL Pipeline. During her, speeches to Wall Street Clinton said she supported the Keystone Pipeline from Canada. Clinton waited a long time to give her public position. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon emailed her aides, “[D]o we worry that publishing an oped that leans this aggressively into our newfound position on Keystone will be greeted cynically and perhaps as part of some manufactured attempt to project sincerity?”

Democratic consultant Joel Benenson thought coming out of nowhere with a position looked politically motivated, which what it was. Benenson wrote, the lack of a “single big idea that encapsulates her vision on this and link it to our country’s future…. I’m worried that if we don’t have something like that we are light on her core values and beliefs on this issue and we are missing those, she risks looking very political, especially on this.”

Clinton’s entire campaign is calculated:

The Hill noted the sharp contrast in the way Clinton runs her campaign versus Trump. Clinton’s campaign considers every word published and said, everything is carefully planned. If Clinton appears stiff, it is because her campaign is just as stiff with a strict script and no room for improvisation. WikiLeaks released emails that show Podesta coordinating with campaign aides on the exact wording of tweets.

Two instances stood out where the campaign was in panic and considered their responses. One was responding to new reports about Clinton’s private email server in March 2015. The second instance was the release of Peter Schweitzer’s book in 2015, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

Clinton has an army of reporters that serve her:

Trump may be right that the media is biased against him in the election. According to the WikiLeaks release of Podesta emails Clinton has reporters all over the new media that are willing to write favorable stories about Clinton and her campaign and soften any negative news at her behest. Among the reporters in Clinton’s corner are ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Mark Leibovich of the New York Times, CNBC’s John Harwood, CNBC’s Becky Quick, and Univision owner Haim Saban who is also a Clinton donor and advisor.

These are not the only reporters, in Gawker.com obtained emailed from Clinton’s State Department PR aide Phillippe Reines listing more Clinton camp reporters. Among the other journalists, include, Mike Allen at Politico, Ken Vogel at Politico, Juliet Eilperin, White House correspondent for The Washington Post, and Mark Ambinder at The Atlantic.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert inpresidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.