Hillary Clinton: Come Clean or Get Out

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at Moulton Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

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Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at Moulton Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa.

If Clinton won't say how and why she hid her State Department emails related to national security, why should the public--much less the FBI--believe her on anything?

If the Demo­crat­ic Party cares to sal­vage a sliv­er of mor­al au­thor­ity, its lead­ers and early state voters need to send Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton an ur­gent mes­sage: Come clean or get out. Stop ly­ing and de­flect­ing about how and why you stashed State De­part­ment email on a secret serv­er—or stop run­ning.

Tell her: We can’t have an­oth­er day like this:

Story 1: The State De­part­ment con­firmed that Clin­ton turned over her email only after Con­gress dis­covered that she had ex­clus­ively used a private email sys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post, the de­part­ment first con­tac­ted her in the summer of 2014, at least three months be­fore the agency asked Clin­ton and three of her pre­de­cessors to provide their emails.

The story un­der­cuts Clin­ton’s claim that her de­cision to turn over self-se­lec­ted email was a re­sponse to a routine-sound­ing re­cords re­quest. She hasn’t been telling the truth.

Story 2: A fed­er­al court has helped un­cov­er more emails re­lated to the Benghazi raid that were with­held from con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­at­ors. Clin­ton has in­sisted she turned over all her work-re­lated email and com­plied with con­gres­sion­al sub­poen­as.

Again, she hasn’t been telling the truth.

Story 3: The FBI has re­covered per­son­al and work-re­lated e-mails from her private serv­er, rais­ing the pos­sib­il­ity that the de­leted in­form­a­tion be­comes pub­lic. “The FBI is in­vest­ig­at­ing how and why clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion ended up on Clin­ton’s serv­er,” Bloomberg re­por­ted.

While the Demo­crat­ic front-run­ner still in­sists there was no clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion on the un­se­cured serv­er, the FBI has moved bey­ond wheth­er U.S. secrets were in­volved to how and why. In the lan­guage of law en­force­ment, the FBI is in­vest­ig­at­ing her motive.

On Sunday, Clin­ton told Face the Na­tion host John Dick­er­son: “What I did was al­lowed. It was fully above board,” and “I tried to be fully trans­par­ent.” Both claims are ob­ject­ively and in­dis­put­ably false.

From the mo­ment this story broke in March, seni­or Demo­crats told me they were wor­ried about where the ques­tions would lead. Sev­er­al said they feared what the emails might show about the in­ter­sec­tion of Clin­ton’s work at the State De­part­ment and the fam­ily’s private found­a­tion. One Clin­ton loy­al­ist, a cred­ible source who I’ve known for years, told me, “The emails are a re­lated but sec­ond­ary scan­dal. Fol­low the found­a­tion money.”

That is still spec­u­la­tion. But months of dis­hon­esty and de­cep­tion took their toll: A ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans don’t trust her, and the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion fight has shif­ted from a coron­a­tion to a com­pet­i­tion. A poll re­leased today by Bloomberg shows Clin­ton barely lead­ing so­cial­ist Bernie Sanders and Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden, who’s not even in the race.

For Demo­crats, this is an op­por­tun­ity wasted. A crowded GOP field has been taken host­age by a celebrity bil­lion­aire with a his­tory of bank­ruptcies, sex­ist be­ha­vi­or, and ra­cially of­fens­ive state­ments. Lack­ing a firm grip on policy or the truth, Don­ald Trump is the GOP front-run­ner. His closest com­pet­i­tion, Dr. Ben Car­son, said Sunday he didn’t think a Muslim should be pres­id­ent, and his ef­forts to clean up the con­tro­versy have been as ham-handed as they are dis­hon­est.

Which brings me back to Clin­ton. Loy­al­ists ar­gue that her policy agenda speaks to Amer­ica’s new demo­graphy and ad­dresses 21st-cen­tury chal­lenges. Even if they’re right, the Clin­ton team has un­der­es­tim­ated the value that voters place on a can­did­ate’s char­ac­ter. One top Clin­ton ad­viser told me in the spring, “Trust doesn’t mat­ter.”

Oft-burned Amer­ic­ans un­der­stand that a policy agenda is a col­lec­tion of prom­ises. If they can’t count on Clin­ton to be hon­est, they can’t count on her to keep her word about in­come in­equal­ity, jobs, health care, and the en­vir­on­ment.

She an­nounced a plan Tues­day to re­duce pre­scrip­tion-drug costs, prom­ising to cap monthly out-of-pock­et ex­penses at $250 without curb­ing profits that fund re­search in­to life-sav­ing drugs. Can you be­lieve her?

Over­shad­ow­ing that news was her long-awaited de­cision on the Key­stone pipeline: Clin­ton now op­poses a pro­ject she was once in­clined to sup­port at the State De­part­ment, a flip-flop that she jus­ti­fied with a rhet­or­ic­al wave of the hand. “I think it is im­per­at­ive that we look at the Key­stone pipeline as what I be­lieve it is—a dis­trac­tion from the im­port­ant work we have to do to com­bat cli­mate change.”

A dis­trac­tion from the im­port­ant work. That could be her cam­paign slo­gan.

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