The Clinton distinction

On yesterday’s Daily Show Trevor Noah hosted Hillary Clinton in the course of her book tour. They discussed Russian matters as through a Clintonian glass darkly.

Noah asked her about what I’ve been calling the Trump Dossier, commissioned by her campaign and drawn on disinformation provided by the friends of Vladimir Putin. You might think she was talking about herself: “I mean, he has to know — we’ll find out what he knew and how involved he was — but he had to know that people were making outreach to Russians, to the highest levels of the Kremlin, in order to help him, to hurt me, but more importantly to sow this divisiveness.” This is what she herself did via the dossier.

Noah asked her what the difference is between the dossier that she commissioned and about what the Trump campaign did. I can answer that, but it’s not the answer Clinton gave. With a little help from Noah’s question, Clinton asserted that Trump sought to influence the outcome of the election whereas as she simply undertook legal opposition research. “I think most serious people understand that,” she said. “This was research started by a Republican donor during the Republican primary and then when Trump got the nomination for the Republican Party the people doing it [i.e., Fusion GPS] came to my campaign lawyer [Marc Elias] and said, you know, would you like us to continue it.”

How classic. It depends on the meaning of “this.” It depends on the meaning of “research.” It depends on the meaning of “started.” It depends on the meaning of “continue.” It depends on the meaning of “it.”

Clinton continued with reference to Elias: “And he said yes. He’s an experienced lawyer. He knows what the law is. He knows what opposition research is and, you know, from my perspective, it didn’t come out before the election [not through lack of trying, however], as we all know, and what also didn’t come out, which I think is even a bigger problem, as I write in the book, is that the American people didn’t even know that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign because of connections with Russia starting in the summer of 2016 [with or without the assistance of the Russian disinformation she had compiled we don’t know; the first dossier memo is dated June 20, 2016].”

At this time we don’t need any reminder of the Clintons’ peculiar contributions to American public life. Nevertheless, I think she gave us one here.

Via The Week.

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