In a presidential news’ cycle there are good weeks, there are bad weeks, and then there are weeks like the one Hillary Clinton just had.
For weeks, Clinton appeared to be on a roll and ready to coast into the White House. She was operating relatively error free (a relatively easy feat if you refuse to talk to the media) and the issues that did come up, such as the Wikileaks revelations of the Clinton campaigns shady inner workings, were largely ignored by the mainstream media. The result was a steadily growing lead poll lead, which allowed Clinton to focus her campaign efforts on down ballot Democrats that didn’t appear to have a chance just weeks ago.
And then last week happened.
In case you missed it, here were the headline stories that greeted the Clinton camp:
- Obamacare’s Unhealthy Premium Hikes: On Monday, the Obama Administration announced that premiums are increasing by an average of 25 percent in the 39 states using the federally run insurance exchanges. In 10 of those states Obamacare enrollees face premium increases of more than 40 percent, including 116 percent hikes in Arizona. Just as troubling, one-third of all U.S. counties will have only one insurer offering coverage and another one-third will have only two competing insurers as a result of insurers dropping out of the marketplace after losing billions of dollars.
This is a far cry from what President Obama and Congressional Democrats promised would happen when they passed the bill. And the fallout from those broken promises will no doubt have an impact this Election Day, which just so happens to overlap with Obamacare’s open enrollment period.
2. Clinton Foundation Pay for Play: Sadly, stories about the Clinton Foundation taking cash for political favors from the former Secretary of State have become a dime-a-dozen, but it shouldn’t make them any less distressing.
The latest storyline involves Clinton committing to speak at an event for King Mohammed VI of Morocco in exchange for a $12 million donation to the Clinton Foundation.
“This was HRC’s idea,” Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton wrote to John Podesta. “Our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request. The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting. It will break a lot of china to back out now when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months.”
“She created this mess and she knows it,” Abedin vented in response
This is one of the clearest displays yet of a deep-pocketed donor being asked to make a large contribution in order to give a foreign leader, with a questionable human rights record, access to the State Department.
3. The Damning Doug Band Memo: In yet another story about the nonexistent lines between the Clinton’s charitable activity, political work, and personal enrichment, WikiLeaks released emails from Doug Band, who sent emails bragging about how much money he was bringing to the foundation.
Band lays out the $14 million in donations he successfully solicited from corporate contributors and the $50 million in profitable activity he was able to secure for, what he calls, “Bill Clinton, Inc.”
“Independent of our fundraising and decision-making activities on behalf of the Foundation we have dedicated ourselves to helping the President secure and engage in for-profit activities – including speeches, books, and advisory service engagements.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel explains how the icky situation works:
The cross-pollination is flagrant, and Mr. Band gives example after example of how it works. He and his partner Declan Kelly (a Hillary Clinton fundraiser whom Mrs. Clinton rewarded by making him the State Department’s special envoy to Northern Ireland) buttered up their clients with special visits to Bill’s home and tête-à-tête golf rounds with the former president. They then “cultivated” these marks ( Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, UBS) for foundation dollars, and then again for high-dollar Bill Clinton speeches and other business payouts.
Hillary Clinton wasn’t far removed from the scheme. For instance, the donations from Dow Chemical coincide with the company’s CEO being granted special access to Clinton, potentially to help with multi-billion litigation between Dow and Kuwait (another Clinton Foundation donor). Given our increasing understanding of the inner workings of the Foundation it’s becoming easier to see why contributions, especially those from foreign interests, skyrocketed when Clinton assumed her role in the State Department.
Is any of this illegal? Perhaps not. But putting their thumb on the scale of international events and selling the Clinton name in exchange for millions of dollars in donations and cash doesn’t look good. Moreover, it’s exactly the type of behavior that the Clintons have long insisted doesn’t happen.
4. The FBI Drops a Weiner Bomb: In what sounds more like a rejected script for the Shonda Rhimes show, Scandal, the FBI announced that they uncovered thousands of new Clinton emails while engaged in an unrelated investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting an underage girl in North Carolina. Weiner, it so happens, shared a computer with his wife, Huma Abedin, who is a longtime aide and confidant for Hillary Clinton.
Although the content of the emails hasn’t been released, and likely won’t be released anytime soon, whatever the FBI found was significant enough for director James Comey to put his neck on the line just days before Election Day. The situation has damaged Clinton’s credibility so much that it has led to calls among some for Clinton to step aside.
The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass summed it up nicely:
Democrats should say, honestly, that with a new criminal investigation going on into events around her home-brew email server from the time she was secretary of state, having Clinton anywhere near the White House is just not a good idea. …
As secretary of state she kept classified documents on the home-brew server in her basement, which is against the law. She lied about it to the American people. She couldn’t remember details dozens of times when questioned by the FBI. Her aides destroyed evidence by BleachBit and hammers. Her husband, Bill, met secretly on an airport tarmac with Attorney General Loretta Lynch for about a half-hour, and all they said they talked about was golf and the grandkids.
And now potentially classified information has been found on a computer of a disgraced representative who once described himself as “a perpetually horny middle-aged man.”
With just days left before the 2016 presidential race comes to an end, these are the last types of stories that Clinton hoped to be dealing with. But the cloud of scandal is never far from the Clinton camp, it’s quite possible the worst is yet to come.