BY DIANE DIMOND
So wait just a darned minute. A committee of the United States Congress wants to schedule testimony from Hillary Clinton, and she refuses the request, laying down certain conditions? That’s not the way our system is supposed to work! If Congress calls a citizen to the witness chair, that citizen is supposed to automatically comply. That’s how it would be for you or me. Why not for Hillary Clinton?
A select committee of the House is investigating two matters: The 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans died, and the more current scandal swirling around Clinton’s lost emails from her tenure as secretary of state. No matter whether you think those subjects need investigating, that is the committee’s agenda. If a regular citizen thumbed their nose at a request to appear, they’d be held in contempt of Congress faster than you could buy cattle futures.
Committee chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy, (R-S.C.) received a letter from Clinton’s lawyer saying that there is “no basis, logic or precedent for such an unusual request.” What? Cabinet members testify on Capitol Hill all the time, on various different subjects. Why is asking Mrs. Clinton to testify on two of the most serious issues swirling around her tenure as secretary of state such an unusual request?
Lawyer David Kendall further declared to the institution his client used to be a part of that Mrs. Clinton would be available only after the week of May 18 and that she would only sit for one session, not the two requested. But that’s not all.
In March, Kendall said there was no need for Clinton to give the committee the private server she used to house her emails during her time as secretary of state because the server had already been wiped clean of that correspondence. Really? She was supposed to turn her email traffic over to the government upon leaving her post. Why were those emails erased? Beyond some glib response at a news conference about the emails being about her daughter’s wedding and yoga lessons, Clinton has never answered that legitimate question.
Since when does a civilian (albeit one running for president) get to dictate the date or the duration of her congressional testimony? Since when do civilians get to tell Congress what it can and cannot inspect? Yes, Mrs. Clinton has certain rights under the U.S. Constitution, but she does not have extra-special rights.
A Clinton campaign official quickly reacted after news of her refusal to comply with the committee’s request went public. He told the New York Times that the candidate has already testified about the Benghazi attack and factions at the Capitol were trying to “exploit a tragedy for purely political gain.”
The truth is, this kerfuffle has been going on since late last year. True, chairman Gowdy could have put his foot down and demanded an appearance long ago, but he didn’t. So here we are with the presidential campaign clock slowly ticking away. Whose fault is that? The Clinton camp surely knew months ago that she was going to run for the presidency. They surely knew this appearance was on the horizon. Why did they drag their feet on a problem that was sure to come back to bite their candidate?
More importantly, is this a sign of how a Clinton presidency would work? Ignore a problem and hope it will go away?
Look, this column is dedicated to crime and justice issues. Frankly, there’s nothing I could write to change the paralytic political mess in Washington. What I care about is a system that’s unequal. I’m angry that someone with wealth and political heft can laugh off an official government request. I wonder why more of the media doesn’t point out this obvious travesty.
But mostly, I wonder: If Hillary Rodham Clinton is as righteous, influential and deserving of the nation’s highest office as she wants us to believe, then why doesn’t she march herself to Capitol Hill and give clear-cut answers to the questions a lot of American citizens have been asking?
The Clinton political endgame seems evident to me — get through one day of congressional testimony, and then declare that the matter is “over.” Any reporter who asks another question about either Benghazi or Clinton’s mysteriously missing emails will be told they are pursuing “old news.” I can just hear the words that will be used. “What difference does it make now … ?”
I think it makes a lot of difference.
Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email Diane@DianeDimond.net