Commentators are probably right in assessing that Brianna Keilar’s CNN interview with Hillary Clinton was not quite the love-in that many of us anticipated. (See Jim Geraghty’s review of the Clinton interview, here.) Still, you have to mourn the media’s lack of self-respect: as Jim pointed out in Wednesday’s Morning Jolt, Mrs. Clinton blatantly lied when she claimed, “I’ve never had a subpoena” from a congressional committee regarding Benghazi. There was nothing subtle about it. Clinton was totally banking on CNN’s inclination to let her slide.
Well, they don’t call it the Clinton News Network for nothing. It is the network of Candy Crowley, who in the middle of a presidential candidates’ debate couldn’t restrain herself from inappropriately challenging – and misleadingly correcting – Mitt Romney’s remarks about Benghazi. But somehow, when Benghazi came up in a one-on-one media interview setting, CNN couldn’t bring itself to call Mrs. Clinton on an obvious lie.
It is well known that Mrs. Clinton was subpoenaed in March by the House select committee investigating the Benghazi Massacre. The matter is indisputable. Plus, it was Keilar who brought up the subject of the subpoena, so one has to assume she did a modicum of research – which is all it would have taken to be ready to challenge Clinton’s false assertion. Yet, in the context of being asked about her destruction of emails from her private server, Clinton was permitted to tell the public she had not been subpoenaed. Thus, without impunity, she was able to frame suspicions that she has willfully obstructed probes of the Benghazi Massacre as outlandish.
Jim notes that, in March, Chairman Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee released a public statement reporting that it had “issued subpoenas for all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya.” Moreover, we also know that Benghazi Committee Democrats – apparently thinking it would help Mrs. Clinton(!) – publicly released a March 27 letter from Clinton’s counsel, David Kendall, in which the subpoena is acknowledged and analyzed at length.
In the letter (which Shannen Coffin discussed here at National Review back in March), Kendall states that the Committee issued a “subpoena duces tecum” – essentially, a subpoena that compels the witness to produce documents. The subpoena demanded production of “documents, for the period January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012.” Those would be (a) the eight months before the September 11, 2012, Benghazi Massacre, when security at the State Department compound was reduced despite jihadist attacks and an intensified terrorist threat, and (b) the three-and-a-half months after the attack, when the administration misled the public about the nature of the attack and identity of the attackers while trumping up a prosecution against the producer of the Innocence of Muslims video, on which the administration fraudulently blamed the murders of four Americans.
The documents called for by the subpoena are those “referring or relating to” the following for categories:
- “Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi and Tripoli)”;
- “Weapons located or found in, imported or brought into, and/or exported or removed from Libya”;
- “The attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and September 12, 2012”;
- “Statements pertaining to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and September 12, 2012.”
There is no question that the subpoena was issued to Mrs. Clinton personally. Kendall says it was “issued by the Benghazi Select Committee to the Hon. Hillary R. Clinton.” Furthermore, by mutual agreement between the committee and the Clinton camp, it was served on Mrs. Clinton, apparently by delivery to her agent for that purpose (probably Mr. Kendall’s firm, but the letter doesn’t say). Kendall is Mrs. Clinton’s personal attorney, and his letter states that the subpoena was “served by agreement on March 4, 2015.”
Given that Chairman Gowdy is an experienced litigator and he was aware that Mrs. Clinton was represented by counsel, it was consistent with professional ethical rules to arrange delivery of the subpoena – and discuss the subpoena thereafter – with Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer. And, of course, Mrs. Clinton is also a lawyer with congressional committee experience – she is well aware that service of process upon a witness’s agent by consensual arrangement with witness’s lawyer is the legal and factual equivalent of personal service on the witness.
In addition, it is quite apparent that Kendall could not have written a letter extensively responding to the subpoena requests without first having discussed the subpoena with his client, Mrs. Clinton.
When Hillary Clinton told CNN, “I’ve never had a subpoena,” she was lying. Since that is what Mrs. Clinton often does, a reporter who fails to challenge her – in an interview for which the reporter had lots of time to prepare, and on a subject the reporter brought up – must be either incompetent or colluding in the lie. Such collusion might be because the reporter supports the candidate, the reporter and her network want to maintain access the candidate, or both.
I don’t think Ms. Keilar is incompetent.