Politics & Policy

A Trip Down Memory Lane with the Clintons’ Sleazeball Extraordinaire

Which is more shocking — that Hillary Clinton used an unsecured, private e-mail system to get alleged “intelligence” about Libya’s political leaders and the Benghazi attack, or that her primary source was the one man the Obama team deemed too dishonest and unethical to work in the State Department?

Hillary Clinton wanted Blumenthal to have an official role at Foggy Bottom, but the Obama team deemed Blumenthal unfit for any administration role, sending Rahm Emanuel to tell her that he was persona non grata in their eyes. In their minds, he crossed the line far too many times during the Clinton–Obama primary fight.

Back in May 2008, Occidental College professor Peter Dreier wrote that Blumenthal was regularly distributing e-mails attacking “Obama’s character, political views, electability, and real or manufactured associations.”

RELATED: Sid Blumenthal Does Benghazi!

According to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s book Game Change, “Blumenthal was obsessed with the ‘whitey tape’ and so were the Clintons, who not only believed that it existed but felt that it might emerge in time to save Hillary. ‘They’ve got a tape, they’ve got a tape,’ she told her aides excitedly.”

The “whitey tape” was a persistent rumor in 2008 that a videotape existed of either Barack or Michelle Obama making racially incendiary remarks, referring to whites as “whitey,” that would irreparably damage Obama’s presidential bid. (In June 2008, I found the nebulous rumor just happened to match a plotline in a 2006 thriller novel.)

Blumenthal telling Hillary Clinton a far-fetched story, with no supporting evidence, that comports with her preferred beliefs, and her eagerly believing it . . . sounds a bit similar to his initial memo to Hillary that “a senior security officer told [President of Libya Mohammed Yussef] el Magariaf that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyan [sic] viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.”

It is hard to overstate Blumenthal’s lack of credibility. Everyone outside the Clintons’ inner circle has recognized El Sid’s, ahem, unique relationship to the truth for at least two decades.

It is hard to overstate Blumenthal’s lack of credibility. Everyone outside the Clintons’ inner circle has recognized El Sid’s, ahem, unique relationship to the truth for at least two decades.

As the White House correspondent for The New Yorker in Clinton’s first term, he aroused the ire of other reporters with his relentless defense of the first couple and criticism of other reporters investigating administration scandals. The Clinton administration reciprocated the warm feelings: “When he wrote and staged a play depicting the White House press corps as a bunch of scandal-crazed buffoons [at the National Press Club], one part was played by Labor Secretary Robert Reich.” Blumenthal told the Los Angeles Times that playwriting was “a liberating form. I have no trouble making things up, and I can tell the difference. Artistic license allows you to say things that get closer to the bone of the truth than journalism.”

Blumenthal worked for President Clinton from August 1997 to January 2001, but Howard Kurtz reported that Blumental slid into the role of an advisor to the first lady long before he started collecting a paycheck:

Blumenthal’s main White House relationship, insiders say, is with Hillary Clinton. He talks to her periodically on the phone or in person, sometimes offering political advice. “He absolutely would make passing suggestions,” says a former administration official. “I can remember her saying, ‘Sid had an interesting idea. What about this?’”

Once in the White House, Blumenthal continued to talk to the press, and his once-friend-turned-enemy, the late Christopher Hitchens, argued that he used his position to lie to reporters during the Lewinsky scandal.

In 1999, Hitchens argued that Blumenthal committed perjury when he said, under oath before Congress, that he had never contended that Monica Lewinsky had pursued a sexual relationship with President Clinton; Hitchens said Blumenthal had told him over lunch that Lewinsky was a “stalker” and that Clinton was her “victim.” Charges were never filed, but Blumenthal did find himself rebuked in a courtroom for his false characterization of grand-jury proceedings.

After testifying as a witness before a grand jury during the Lewinsky trial, Blumenthal told the assembled press outside the court that Ken Starr and his team asked ludicrously personal and inappropriate questions about Bill Clinton’s religion, and inquired about Blumenthal’s conversations with reporters. Court transcripts later revealed that none of those questions were asked.

The grand-jury forewoman told Blumenthal in a subsequent appearance, “We are very concerned about the fact that during your last visit that an inaccurate representation of the events that happened were retold on the steps of the courthouse.” Ever the victim, Blumenthal wrote in his 2004 book that the forewoman’s comment was  “distorted and highly inappropriate.”

Columnists Jack W. Germond and Jules Witcover said Blumenthal was “so widely suspected of spreading stories of a conspiratorial nature that he has been nicknamed ‘Grassy Knoll’ by some in the White House and ‘Sid Vicious’ by some outside it.” At the time, Jonah Goldberg summarized, “Sidney Blumenthal did what he did and said what he said because that is the kind of man he is. He likes saying bad things about people. If you snapped him open like a peapod nothing but bilious black ooze would come out.”

Michael Isikoff concurred:

In the book as in life, he rearranges facts, spins conspiracy theories, impugns motives, and besmirches the character of his political and journalistic foes — all for the greater cause of defending the Clintons (and himself). . . . Distortion is standard fare for Blumenthal.

Just the kind of man you want sending intelligence directly to the secretary of state through an insecure e-mail system, right?

— Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent for National Review.

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