The Corner

Politics & Policy

I Guess It Depends What You Mean by ‘Unsolicited’

It’s now becoming a parlor game. Every time Hillary Clinton says something about her secret server, the shot-clock starts on when she’ll be exposed for another lie. You might recall this painfully forced attempt to be charming about her relationship with Sid Blumenthal. 

As many of us noted at the time, the key word here was “unsolicited.” Having a private foreign-policy consultant who lacks clearance working for you while on salary at your superpac-cum-foundation creates any number of legal and political problems for Clinton, particularly when they correspond over an unsecured e-mail system. So, she said the e-mails from Blumenthal were “unsolicited” missives from an “old friend.”

This, of course, was a lie.

The New York Times’s Peter Baker has a long piece on how Blumenthal was pretty obviously one of her closest foreign-policy advisers, as well as an “informer on domestic politics, keeping her up-to-date on the latest machinations in the White House and the campaign trail, even offering suggestions for midterm election strategy.” Baker writes:

Mr. Blumenthal, in fact, was so prolific in his messages to “H,” as he addressed her, that he seems to be the person she heard from by email the most outside her department. Of the 4,368 emails and documents, mostly from 2010, that were posted on the State Department website on Monday night in response to a court order, a search found that 306 involved messages from Mr. Blumenthal to Mrs. Clinton or vice versa.

Mrs. Clinton was usually terse and revealed little in reply, but she indicated that she and former President Bill Clinton welcomed his input outside the normal chain of command.

“I shared your emails w Bill who thought they were ‘brilliant’!” she wrote after a series of messages about elections in Britain. “Keep ’em coming when you can.”

When he was slow with a promised memo, she nudged him. “Are you still sending?” Other messages referred to late-night phone conversations.

Clinton “welcomed his input outside the normal chain of command,” told him “to keep ‘em coming” and “nudged” him to follow through on at least one promised memo. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds awfully “solicited” to me. 

I’m a fan of Baker’s but I do think he ignores the news angle here. Clinton said she did not solicit e-mails from her shadow adviser. She clearly did. Why not say so?

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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