WashPost’s Phillip: Clinton Scandals Are Too ‘Complicated to Prosecute’ a Case to Voters

On the Monday edition of CNN’s Inside Politics, Washington Post political reporter Abby Phillip employed a tiresome tactic to deflect away from any number of the Clinton scandals and particularly the revelations via WikiLeaks because it’s all “too complicated” to explain to voters in building a case against her. 

Host John King turned from Donald Trump’s continued issues with female voters to Clinton’s ongoing problems with the truth as he explained that, despite the Clinton campaign’s deflections, “just now voters are learning some of the things in these WikiLeak releases that are pretty damaging or at least raise serious questions.”

King then aired a clip of State of the Union host Jake Tapper grilling Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on one WikiLeaks revelation that “[t]he King of Morocco wanted to donate $12 million to the Clinton Foundation this year, but he only wanted to do it if he could get a face-to-face meeting with Hillary Clinton.”

Yahoo! News correspondent Olivier Knox responded after the video by pointing out the reality that such “external shocks” like the WikiLeaks dumps would be having more of an impact “if [Trump] is a plausible alternative” in the eyes of voters as exhibited in poll after poll that while voters dislike Clinton, many despise Trump even more.

This led right into Phillip, who initially acknowledged that the near-constant pop-ups of either new Clinton scandals or further details about one have translated to “her unfavorability ratings are really sky high, and it is in there.”

Phillip changed her tune thereafter and chalked up the unfavorability to it largely being “baked into the electorate” and then dropped the decades-old line of Clinton scandals being too “complicated”(for just a few examples, see here and here):

[B]ut we're seeing it's not enough to push voters over the line to support Trump, and also, it's a complicated. I mean, some of this stuff is not easy to boil down. It is complicated to prosecute an argument against her on these grounds, and I think that Trump is having trouble prosecuting that case, and he's not doing it, frankly with any consistency. 

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Almost immediately, conservative and The Federalist writer Mary Katharine Ham shot back that “what’s not complicated, though, is look, the argument this is a person doing business in Washington” and doing it “as usual and it's really bad business, and here's where it is and he can point to it.” 

However, Ham quickly pointed to how Trump hasn’t been able to do so “consistently without veering into the other brambles he's been in.”

The segment wound down with more of those sentiments that Trump could have thrived in light of these Clinton scandals if he had been more disciplined with The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser ruling that “[h]e had those moments where he did and those were his most effective moments and then suddenly he shifts to, I'm going to sue those women.”

King concluded that Trump could have “made the case consistently” but “instead he goes to Gettysburg the other day” and spends portions of a speech intended to be a preview of his first 100 days as president if elected on how he’ll sue the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.  

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s Inside Politics on October 24 can be found below.

CNN’s Inside Politics
October 24, 2016
12:34 p.m. Eastern

MATT VISER: And the other thing is, you know, the October surprise. Is there anything else out there we learn about Hillary Clinton that drags down her numbers? The difficulty with that, though, is early voting and that so many people have already voted in so many of the states that, well, about 40 percent of the electorate already having voted, so you know, even that argument is somewhat tenuous.

JOHN KING: And a key point about the change election. She spent her campaign's spent millions on television. A lot of the time we thought maybe those ads weren't working. Then the debates, to disqualify Donald Trump to say he doesn't have the judgment, he doesn’t the temperament, and then the women come forward to sort of pushing him over the line of being qualified and just now voters are learning some of the things in these WikiLeak releases that are pretty damaging or at least raise serious questions. The Clinton campaign doesn’t want to answer the questions. They say no, Russia hacked these e-mails. They won’t answer the specifics, but one of the more recent ones to come up is a Clinton Global foundation meeting. They want to have the meeting in Morocco and they want the King of Morocco to pay $12 million. Listen to Clinton’s campaign manager explain this one away. 

JAKE TAPPER [TO MOOK] [on CNN’s State of the Union, 10/24/16]: We learned that the king of Morocco wanted to donate $12 million to the Clinton Foundation this year, but he only wanted to do it if he could get a face-to-face meeting with Hillary Clinton. I mean, doesn’t this feed into one of the concerns that voters have about the Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation? 

ROBBY MOOK [on CNN’s State of the Union, 10/24/16]: Well, I’m glad you asked that question for that reason. It was known for a long time the Clinton Foundation's conference was held in Morocco. It has been known for a very long time that Secretary Clinton chose not to attend that conference, so there isn't anything new here. 

TAPPER [on CNN’s State of the Union, 10/24/16]: Well Bill and Chelsea did. 

MOOK [on CNN’s State of the Union, 10/24/16]: They did, but Secretary Clinton chose not to. 

KING: I don't know if this, these kind of things are, you know, would be determinative in the election but I do believe that if she had not successfully, with Trump's help, pushed him on the other side of the qualified line that she would have to answer these questions in more detail. They would be more of an issue to the middle of the electorate. 

OLIVIER KNOX: Absolutely. These external shocks only matter if he is a plausible alternative and so that’s why they worked so darn hard to get him — as you say, push him on the other side of plausible and that’s — that's what we're seeing here with a lot of these WikiLeaks revelations. 

ABBY PHILLIP: And it isn't as if all of these things aren't having an impact. I mean, her unfavorability ratings are really sky high, and it is in there. It is baked into the electorate, but we're seeing it's not enough to push voters over the line to support Trump, and also, it's a complicated. I mean, some of this stuff is not easy to boil down. It is complicated to prosecute an argument against her on these grounds, and I think that Trump is having trouble prosecuting that case, and he's not doing it, frankly with any consistency. 

MARY KATHARINE HAM: I think — I think what’s not complicated, though, is look, the argument this is a person doing business in Washington. She does it as usual and it's really bad business, and here's where it is and he can point to it. Had he done that consistently without veering into the other brambles he's been in, I think would have been a much more effective case. 

VISER: He had those moments where he did and those were his most effective moments and then suddenly he shifts to, I'm going to sue those women. You know, I mean, he sort of shifts back so quickly that — 

KING: Right. If he made the case consistently, I will get you a job. I will change the culture of Washington. Here's why she can't then you connect all this stuff. She plays by the —

HAM: They’re real things. 

KING: — by the old rules, but instead he goes to Gettysburg the other day.

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