Clinton is using her health as sword & shield. Why are health questions “out of bounds” if she herself says her concussion is why she can’t recall crucial info?
There are two things you are definitely, absolutely not allowed to talk about if you want your writing to be taken seriously. You should definitely, absolutely not say that Hillary violated criminal law and belongs in jail. After all, when has it been part of acceptable political discourse to call for the indictment of a major-party nominee for the presidency? The “lock her up” chant? That’s extremist and disturbing. And you should definitely, absolutely not question Hillary’s health. That’s what fringe, conspiracy theory wackos do. I mean, look at those rubes — examining coughing videos as if they’re the Zapruder film.
Well, yesterday, for what felt like the hundredth time, I made the case that Hillary violated criminal law in her handling of national-defense information. Today, let’s talk about Hillary’s health. Specifically, let’s talk about how she made it an issue when she apparently used it as a convenient excuse for memory loss — as a shield against criminal liability.
But first, let’s establish some basic understandings. I don’t think that the health of every 68-year-old candidate is automatically suspect. We all know people of equivalent age who are extraordinarily healthy and demonstrate vigor and stamina that would exhaust much younger people. She’s been running a relatively grueling presidential race for months, with few setbacks other than some highly visible coughing fits. In watching her day to day, we see no visible evidence she can’t handle the rigors of the job.
However, there is the matter of her testimony to the FBI. The Bureau interviewed her for more than three hours, and during the course of that testimony, she “cited more than three-dozen things that she could not recall.” The Washington Post has a fascinating breakdown of the information she said he couldn’t remember, including any “briefing or training” she received on “the retention of federal records or handling of classified information” or “any specific process for nominating a drone strike.”
Indeed, the list keeps going. She couldn’t remember if she had any specific training on handling Top Secret information associated with Special Access Programs (TS/SAP information, which is among the most sensitive of all national-security data, was found on her homebrew server). And she couldn’t recall whether she’d received any emails that she thought shouldn’t have been sent on an unclassified system. She also couldn’t remember if she received “guidance from the State Department about email policies contained in the Foreign Affairs Manual.”
Selective amnesia is hardly unusual in criminal investigations. Indeed, it’s an effective tactic for stalling investigations without committing perjury — how can a prosecutor prove you actually remember facts you claim you forgot? But the FBI files contained this interesting statement:
Clinton stated she received no instructions or direction regarding the preservation or production of records from [the] State [Department] during the transition out of her role as secretary of state in 2013. . . . However, in December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot. Based on her doctor’s advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received.
The only way this observation does not raise a legitimate health concern is if Hillary raised her own health as a cynical, manipulative method of evading questions. In other words, if she’s telling the FBI the truth (as she’s bound by law to do), then her health issues were so profound that she not only dramatically curtailed her work, but she has literal gaps in her memory.
Is that not a legitimate source of public concern or inquiry? After all, even hale and healthy younger people often have trouble bouncing back from brain injury that traumatic, yet here she is admitting that her concussion and blood clot affected her ability to recall even the basic facts of her job.
A candidate for president can’t use her health as a sword and a shield — with surrogates indignantly denouncing health questions as “out of bounds” even as the candidate herself cites her health as a reason that she can’t recall information material to a criminal investigation. Hillary Clinton raised her own health as an issue in the course of an FBI investigation that had the potential to not only put her in jail but also sway the course of a presidential election.
I’m old enough to remember when Ronald Reagan announced he had Alzheimer’s — almost six years after he left office. Immediately, there were leftists who demanded to know whether he had suffered symptoms while in the White House. Did he have memory lapses? The American people had a right to know. Well now we have evidence that a candidate for president suffered concussion and/or blood-clot-induced memory lapses before Election Day. That makes her medical condition immediately and urgently relevant. We’re way past conspiracy theories now. The genie is out of the bottle, and Hillary Clinton owes the American people transparency.
— David French is a staff writer at National Review and an attorney.