It's too bad for former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power that Hillary Clinton didn’t share her secret for getting around the Freedom of Information Act. There they both were, working at the State Department for the same administration, and Power was blissfully unaware of the scrutiny that would come once Hillary was a failed former presidential candidate and Obama was out of office. Hillary has always been skilled at hiding evidence and skirting the laws to maintain her secrecy, and she’s had a lot of practice over the years.
See, what you do at the State Department is set up your own private email server, serviced by your own IT people, and physically destroy your devices when someone subpoenas what’s on them or sues to see your old text messages. It also helps when the State Department slow-walks FOIA requests and, when necessary, replies to them with “No documents found responsive to your request.” (Of course, that might actually be true; if you were conducting business through your own email address and your own private server and had rendered your documents unretrievable with BleachBit and destroyed your devices, there might really BE no documents responsive to the FOIA request.)
I guess when Power was busy unmasking Americans’ redacted names –- hundreds of them –- from secret National Security Agency transcripts of surveilled phone calls, she didn’t think ahead about someone finding out and getting curious about her motives. (It should be mentioned that when Power was questioned by Congress a year ago about the unmasking, she testified that it must have been someone else doing it in her name. That’s a pretty outrageous story and needs clearing up.) She didn’t bother disguising her opinions in emails with like-minded colleagues. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, whose persistence in filing FOIA requests is now paying off in spades, has turned up all sorts of intriguing communications, and they just keep coming.
Investigative reporter John Solomon has just gone through the many pages of Power’s old texts from 2016 and early 2017, both during the presidential campaign and after the election, and it seems she was just as adamantly anti-Trump as Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were. He saw that she did not hide this in her official government email. She was making snippy comments about him even before he won the GOP nomination. And when he actually won the presidency, the conversations suggested animosity and panic.
“I am discouraged and frightened,” said one incoming email from someone whose name continues to be redacted by the State Department for privacy reasons. (It would sure be interesting to know if this person is still there.) “Electing a right-wing President is something, but such a morally repugnant bully!” The email, from November 14, 2016, just days after the election, went on to call Steve Bannon “an avowed racist” and predicted that “the worst is coming.”
Power did not disagree, and her own words were similarly anti-Trump. In December, when someone sent her a news story about Trump desiring a new policy direction for the U.N., her reply was blunt. “This reflects the lack of understanding of history,” she said. You know, I could make the case that, considering the direction of U.N. policy under President Obama, that observation applies more to him than to President Trump. It could be argued that Power was free to express her opinion, but because she was so candid, it’s now recorded for posterity, evidence of the kind of anti-Trump bias that likely motivated a little sabotage. It’s important now, because unmasking those names was a BIG DEAL and we need to know why it was done.
As for being free to express one’s opinion, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio made a great point about the double standard on THE INGRAHAM ANGLE Wednesday night: “I think the irony is...the...day we learn about this...is the same day that there’s a hearing going after Kellyanne Conway for allegedly violating the Hatch Act. The left comes after her, when you’ve got these kinds of statements from the Obama administration.”
There were other comments from Power that reflected her strong anti-Trump bias. For example, when Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from a global climate deal, she emailed a colleague to say, “Lord help us all.”
And it wasn’t just talk. According to Solomon, Power’s efforts to arrange media interviews and speeches during her last days as ambassador were clearly designed to counter the incoming President’s agenda and further the narrative that Trump was anti-immigrant and potentially too soft on Russia. For example, she and her staff talked with CBS’ Bill Owens, then executive editor of 60 MINUTES, to try to set up an interview for her at the time President-elect Trump was starting his transition that would use the Syrian refugee crisis to shame him for his views on immigration. (Details of these email exchanges are at the link.)
It’s her attempt to further the Trump-Russia narrative that’s most concerning. When a reporter emailed her that he was working on a story advancing the “collusion” theory, she emailed then-deputy national security adviser and storyteller-in-chief Ben Rhodes to ask for his assistance. “Sounds serious,” she wrote. “Can you follow up, Ben?” Now, this is the kind of behavior that arguably violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits engaging in political activities on government time. But watch Congress go after Kellyanne Conway while ignoring all this.
Power’s very last speech while U.N. ambassador tried to paint Trump as soft on Russia, suggesting it was “flawed” for Trump to think he might “put recent transgressions aside and announce another ‘reset’ with Russia.” Hey, wasn’t it Obama and Hillary who tried the “reset” business with Russia? Talk about lame. They were much weaker with Russia than Trump has turned out to be. But at the time, they needed their precious “narrative.”
Incidentally, it appears now that Inspector General Michael Horowitz won’t be releasing his report in time for Mueller’s testimony before Congress in mid-July. One thing to keep in mind about this upcoming report is that in his first one, on the Hillary email “investigation,” the IG stunningly failed to find bias in the FBI’s decision-making that would have “affected the outcome.” That is total hogwash –- not quite the word attorney Joe DiGenova used –- and I fear that a lot of people who are eagerly awaiting his next report have forgotten about this. Judging from what he did before, Horowitz is probably going to bend over backwards to excuse the FBI.
Inspectors general tend to be “insiders” –- at least this is what former FBI officials have said –- so it should surprise no one if that happens. It’s going to take someone as determined as AG Bill Barr to get to the bottom of what was done.