During an interview with Hillary Clinton last week in New Hampshire, Univision anchor María Elena Salinas missed a critical opportunity to live up to her claim that her network’s news coverage is “fair and balanced.” That’s because unfortunately, the veteran anchor at the nation’s largest Spanish-language network allowed the Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State of the United States to attack Judicial Watch for its central role in exposing a huge political scandal that is the subject of an FBI investigation and federal court litigation.
At the heart of the matter is Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct government business as Secretary of State. Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan educational foundation dedicated to promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in government, has played a big role in exposing the details. That’s because Judicial Watch had filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits seeking State Department records as part of an ongoing investigation into the agency. Among them was a lawsuit seeking records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and wife of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.
We now know that, because Clinton used a private email server, the State Department could not find records responsive to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit. The FBI has since launched an investigation and even traditionally liberal national media outlets have reported the severity of the matter. In fact, virtually all of the nation’s news services, including CBS, CNN and practically every newspaper in the country, have reported that hundreds of Clinton’s “private” emails were flagged for possibly containing classified information.
This is serious stuff and could lead to criminal charges, yet Salinas allowed Clinton to wiggle her way out of it during the interview.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS, ANCHOR: Even though you swore under penalty of perjury that you have turned over all e-mails that are related to any kind of, you know, federal record, Judicial Watch is still claiming that it’s not enough. Do you think that at the least that this has created the perception that you’re hiding something?
HILLARY CLINTON: No, because you have to remember Judicial Watch is a partisan group that has been suing Democrats, me in particular, for twenty years. Anything that they can sue over to create partisan advantage, they do. The facts are very clear here. I did turn over all work-related e-mails in an effort to help the State Department make sure that their records were complete. And those are the facts. Now that doesn’t mean that I will ever convince these partisans who are, you know, trying to make all sorts of allegations.
Judicial Watch has a proven track record of being nonpartisan and has sued both Republican and Democrat administrations that have violated public-record laws created to keep government transparent and accountable. In fact, Judicial Watch argued before the United States Supreme Court to obtain records on former Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force, during the administration of former President George W. Bush. As a matter of fact, Judicial Watch filed hundreds of public-record requests under FOIA during the Bush administration.
Attacking Judicial Watch was simply a deflection from the real story—that Clinton was forced to turn over her server and some emails to the FBI and Justice Department. No cabinet secretary has ever established their own external communication system in an effort to circumvent both the unclassified and classified government systems. This could very well turn out to be a national security crime.
It’s also worth pointing out that Judge Emmet Sullivan, the U.S. Federal District Court judge who has ruled in favor of Judicial Watch, ordering the State Department, Clinton and her top aides to produce all government records in their possession, was appointed to the bench by none other than former President Bill Clinton.
At present, it appears that Hillary Clinton continues to withhold material information from the federal court, as well as from the FBI and Justice Department. Allowing Clinton at this juncture to deflect by bashing Judicial Watch as a partisan group making “all sorts of allegations” brings to mind when, as First Lady, the media also largely let Clinton blame the sex scandal involving her husband and a White House intern on a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”