Thus far, the ongoing WikiLeaks releases of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail information on controversial conversations received minimal press coverage over the weekend as a conflict in US-Russian relations has unfolded over the alleged Russian cyber hacks into the Clinton campaign.
On Monday’s Morning Joe, however liberal commentators discussed disagreements and conflicts between President Obama and Clinton over issues ranging from foreign policy to counterterrorism, economic regulation, and heated campaign conflicts during the Democratic primaries in 2008. Bloomberg Politics editor Mike Halperin initially admitted that “there's lots in there that confirm the suspicions of people about how the Clinton enterprise operates.”
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, said that “this confirms sort of the worst portraits of the Clintons and how they operated out of office and it raises obvious questions about why they were accepting this money now, you know, there were charitable purposes that went along with the Clinton Foundation, but, of course, it came with a conflict of interest.”
Stein continued defending the leaked Clinton campaign’s controversial allegations about Obama’s personality by shifting the blame on to an external actor: “I would like to correct that -- it wasn't the Clinton campaign that did the polling about Obama and cocaine use and Muslim faith. It was a group called Progressive Media USA…an outside government outfit, Democratic-allied outfit in 2008 that was tasked with essentially looking up the vulnerabilities of each perspective candidate.”
The host Joe Scarborough then confronted this absurd defense by questioning whether in “January of 2008 Paul Bogala was not asking about Barack Obama's Muslim identity because he was concerned about a November election against Mitt Romney.” He further asked: “Sam, are you really -- are you saying this with a straight face? Did they teach you this at Dartmouth to say all this with a straight face?” You can correct that and say it was a distinction without a difference in the midst of one of the ugliest Democratic battles in recent memory."
Frequent panelist Donnie Deutsch jumped right into the conversation and defended these tactics, saying that essentially all campaigns engage in such character assassination attempts in the primaries. Of course, the problem with these revelations is that in retrospect, we now have proof that the origin of many infamous criticisms of Obama actually seem to have begun with Clinton, even though she is currently campaigning in a solid defense of Obama’s legacy despite detesting secretly, some of the President’s policies while serving as Secretary of State.
As the discussion flowed deeper into foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation, Deutsch quickly jumped in and changed the subject away from Hillary Clinton’s controversies with an attack on Donald Trump, to which MSNBC’s economic analyst Steven Rattner interjected: “He is going to be a face of hate, I agree with that. Let's assume he goes down a reasonably crushing electoral defeat.”
In response, that attempt was stopped with Scarborough’s clever question to his liberal commentators: “Do you like that pivot?!?!?”. In doing so, Scarborough clearly exposed the uncomfortable nature of any further critical discussions concerning the proven Obama-Clinton contradictions and conflicts that were recently made public and barely investigated in any detail by the mass media.
Here are the excerpts from the October 17th discussion on Morning Joe:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe
6:11:50 – 6:23:43 AM
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Speaking of Hillary Clinton, that's the other big story. WikiLeaks has released transcripts of paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and a series of data dumps over the weekend. The documents were part of the group's latest release of emails allegedly hacked from the personal account of campaign chair John Podesta. They have not been independently authenticated by NBC News, and the Clinton campaign and US intelligence officials have blamed Russia for hacking the emails. One e-mail claims to show Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign polling about Obama's ties to the Muslim faith, hours after her surprise victory in the January 8th, 2008, New Hampshire primary.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: After Obama's surprise victory! So, when Hillary lost in Iowa in 2008, came in third place to Barack Obama and behind John Edwards. Yeah, this is Podesta that was copied on an e-mail dated Wednesday, January 9th 2008
BREZINSKI: The long-time Clinton campaign strategist Paul Bogala is discussing a poll that tested attack lines against Obama. One of the questions in the poll asked whether voters would be more or less likely to support Senator Obama if they knew that "Obama's father was a Muslim and Obama grew up among Muslims in the world's most populist Islamic country,” when asked for an explanation, he said he was polling to defend Obama.
SCARBOROUGH: No, actually, this was the day after Obama beat Hillary Clinton.
BREZINSKI: That’s so bad.
SCARBOROUGH: That's --
BREZINSKI: He says, that was a draft poll questionnaire that tested potential right-wing attacks on Obama to help prepare to defend him.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm sorry. Alex -- I'm sorry -- was that poll -- the poll also included suggested questions on Obama's use of cocaine, questioned his patriotism for not covering his heart during the national anthem, and Mark Halperin, this was the day after the Iowa loss, Hillary Clinton loss. Or New Hampshire? Was this the day after New Hampshire? Okay. The day after New Hampshire.
MARK HALPERIN: One of two things is true about Paul Bogala, either he is not telling the truth about the poll, or he is one of the most forward-looking people in Democratic politics (LAUGHTER)
BREZINSKI: I am going to go with the first...
HALPERIN: …Even as he was helping Hillary Clinton fight to win the nomination, he was thinking ahead to the general election where his candidate would lose and Barack Obama would need to be defended --
SCARBOROUGH: You remember, actually Barack Obama, got so angry at them with their whisper campaign on him being a Muslim or coming from a Muslim country, a Muslim father. Remember that scene on the tarmac where he was yelling at Hillary Clinton?
HALPERIN: I do. It was featured in the book Game Change about that campaign.
HASS: I have never seen him mention his book before.
SCARBOROUGH: That was very subtly.
HASS: I love that.
BREZINSKI: Also in the WikiLeaks hack are transcripts purportedly showing remarks Hillary Clinton made to Goldman Sachs employees during three appearances in 2013 touching on a number of topics, including the war in Syria. Clinton allegedly told the crowd that “the best way to take on the Assad regime is as covertly as possible. My view was to intervene as covertly as possible for Americans to intervene. We used to be much better at this than we are now. Now, you know, everyone can't help themselves. They have to go out and tell their friendly reporters and someone else…”
BREZINSKI: “Look what we're doing. I want credit for it and all the rest.”
SCARBOROUGH: She's talking about Barack Obama there.
BREZINSKI: Speaking on Russia --
BREZINSKI: Clinton purportedly said I would love it if we could continue to build a more positive relationship with Russia. We would like to see Putin be less defensive towards relationships with the United States so that we could work together on some issues. Clinton also allegedly touched on the 2008 financial crisis discussing the root causes with Goldman employees, seeming to avoid criticism of the banks: “I think there's a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides. You know what happened. How did it happen? How do we prevent it from happening?” and, finally, in a separate e-mail from 2012 an employee at the Clinton Foundation allegedly told several aides that Qatar wanted five minutes to meet with former president Bill Clinton in New York to give him $1 million as a birthday present. The e-mail goes on to say that Qatar is looking for suggestions from the Clinton Foundation to the $20 million gathered to invest in Haiti.
SCARBOROUGH: Mark Halperin, a lot to digest here. A lot to digest. What are your thoughts first before we go around the table?
HALPERIN: Well, there's lots in there that confirm the suspicions of people about how the Clinton enterprise operates. There's a lot of things that are kind of medium grade. I think just as a political reality…part of what’s holding…. (SILENCE)
BREZINSKI: Where did Mark go?
HALPERIN: Decide which one to seize on.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah well, let's talk about Russia first since we have you here. Hillary Clinton 2013. First of all, obviously criticizing Barack Obama who leaked -- the administration would leak the terrorists they killed that day and had leaked that he would look over lists of what terrorist to kill that particular day in the 2012 campaign but talk about Russia, which is absolutely fascinating. Even in 2013 she wanted a close relationship with Vladimir Putin.
RICHARD HASS: What's interesting, what it tells us, is the piece and degree to have US-Russian relations have deteriorated. This is one of the big developments in the world. That we've gone from a difficult but okay relationship to something that even now the Russians are saying it's the worst it's been since the worst moments of the Cold War with the idea of US-Russian military confrontations or coming to contact either in Syria and Europe is not off the table. So, it just shows you…there's nothing bad about what she was saying. It's a really snap shot, two years ago, three years ago to how quickly things have changed. I don't think there's anything in this that causes problems for her like the previous ones which talked about open borders, free trade and all that. There she ran into trouble between what she was saying privately and what she's been now saying publicly.
SCARBOROUGH: We've got Sam stein's picture back out of Washington. $1 million as a birthday gift, I know you have a lot of friends, a lot of your rich friends from Dartmouth that come in and give you $1 million for your birthday presents but for most politicians, you know, a self-described ‘redneck’ from Arkansas getting a $1 million check for his birthday, that’s big stuff..
6:18:56 – 6:23:43 AM
SAM STEIN: This confirms sort of the worst portraits of the Clintons and how they operated out of office and it raises obvious questions about why they were accepting this money now, you know, there were charitable purposes that went along with the Clinton Foundation, but, of course, it came with a conflict of interest. I would like to correct that -- it wasn't the Clinton campaign that did the polling about Obama and cocaine use and Muslim faith. It was a group called Progressive media USA, now, Progressive Media USA was an outside government outfit, Democratic-allied outfit in 2008 that was tasked with essentially looking up the vulnerabilities of each perspective candidate.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: So this was John Podesta --
STEIN: It was Paul Bogala of a group called Progressive Media USA. I know. It was the poll that was done by Progressive Media USA. A guy named Tom Matsey. he is in clean energy now. This was not a Clinton campaign --
SCARBOROUGH: Come on, Sam.
STEIN: No, it really wasn't. It was Progressive Media USA!
SCARBOROUGH: It was in the heat of an ugly campaign. This is even before racist charges started being leveled between the two campaigns…
STEIN: It was said that it was a Clinton campaign poll. That is factually not true.
SCARBOROUGH: Ok, so would it be safe to say that Paul Bogala and John Podesta were not talking about the President’s Muslim ties for the benefit of a general election campaign against Mitt Romney in the midst of a nasty fight..
STEIN: Well, what we do know is that Mark Pen did famously bring up the cocaine use and there were subtle references to Obama’s foreignness but I think that its subjectively true that they were not pushing it as an issue in the campaign. What Progressive media was doing was checking whether it would be a huge vulnerability for Obama once he got to the general election. Which I should add…This is a fairly mundane campaign -- operation here.
SCARBOROUGH: In January of 2008 Paul Bogala was not asking about Barack Obama's Muslim identity because he was concerned about a November election against Mitt Romney.
STEIN: The idea was to see if he would be a vulnerable general election candidate…
SCARBOROUGH: Sam, are you really -- are you saying this with a straight face? Did they teach you this at Dartmouth to say all this with a straight face?
STEIN: Listen --
SCARBOROUGH: They're very good.
STEIN: You read it as if it was a Clinton campaign poll. I'm correcting that.
SCARBOROUGH: You can correct that and say it was a distinction without a difference in the midst of one of the ugliest Democratic battles in recent memory.
DEUTSCH: Can I just jump in.
SCARBOROUGH: Big difference
STEIN: No, no, it's really not.
DEUTSCH: Let's also always assume -- not that these are not true. These are Russian hacks. I general genuinely believe if you went into the emails of any political campaign and did a deep dive, once again not excusing any of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Should we not report on this? It sounds like you're excusing it.
DEUTSCH: Not excusing it. I would guarantee, I would bet anything that on any political campaign that's ever been done private going back --
SCARBOROUGH: So, they all do it?
DEUTSCH: It's not even a question.
SCARBOROUGH: You're saying they all do it, right?
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The million dollar present… Did that go in --
DEUTSCH: That went to his foundation.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you know that? Because Reuters reported this on, I think, Friday or Saturday and said that they couldn't confirm that it wasn't a personal gift.
BRZEZINSKI: 5 minutes - for $1 million dollars?
DEUTSCH: I would like to know that. I also want to jump back really, really fast because I think it's a critical point about Trump. You said that he is going to go away. I couldn't disagree with you more. He’s got that shot of heroin - everything that drives this man is attention and adulation and going back…
SCARBOROUGH: Figuratively speaking.
DEUTSCH: He is not going to give them that, and he is going to be this face of hate, or whatever you want to call it. By the way, he can't go back. He can't go back to being Donald Trump.
STEVE RATTNER: He is going to be a face of hate, I agree with that. Let's assume he goes down a reasonably crushing electoral defeat.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you like that pivot?!?!?
RATTNER: Crushing electoral defeat, and he goes off of whoever is willing to follow him into the woods, you know like Che Guevara and fight the next fight. I don't think it's going to be a major force. I think it’s going to be some Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some figure out there on the fringe ranting and raving.