‘Am I not speaking English?’ Reporters grill State Dept over Clinton emails
The State Department’s Elizabeth Trudeau had a hard time dodging a swarm of uncomfortable questions, forcing her to comment on the ethical side of close ties of Department and the Clinton Foundation back when it was headed by the current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Newly published emails, released by Judicial Watch, revealed the back-and-forth between top aides of Clinton and of her husband, seeking for favors and connections at the State Department in the years of the former first lady’s service.
In one case, reporters wanted to know on the fate of “an associate” who Bill Clinton’s controversial aide Doug Band asked “to take care of,” implying a job at the Department, and whose name was redacted from the email for some unknown reasons.
However, Trudeau refused to speak on the matter, setting a tone to her subsequent answers.
“I’m also not going to speak to specific redactions,” she replied, stressing that she can’t “speak to specific cases.”
Yet, Trudeau tried to get away with a general response, saying that “the department regularly hires political appointees with a range of skill sets for a broad variety of jobs” and it is not “unusual” for their candidates to be recommended by a “variety of avenues.”
Reporters appeared to be at loss over the secrecy surrounding the mysterious person, especially with Clinton campaign now saying that he was not “employed by the Foundation."
“This is pretty – in fact, it’s pretty non-specific since we don’t know what the name is,” one of the reporters said.
The Department’s spokeswoman said she has “no information” and was “unable to speak” on the matter.
“I think we’re parsing,” she replied to AP’s Matt Lee, who also seemed to be losing his cool.
Reporters also wanted Trudeau to address the ethics of her Department and Clinton Foundation after one of the emails exposed a special request from the former president’s team. In a 2009 email, Band wanted a “right hand” of the former Secretary of State Huma Abedin to put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury in touch with a proper person at the Department.
However, here Trudeau also tried to evade answering the uncomfortable question.
“I’m not going to speak to specific emails,” she said again, now adding that working with “a wide variety of outside individuals and organizations, including businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks” was not unusual for her Department either.
The reply has prompted a harsh reaction from AP’s Lee, who said:
“Can you at least try to answer Abigail’s question, which was: Has the department looked into this and determined that there was no impropriety?”
Failing to receive a satisfactory answer he snapped:
“I’m sorry, are you – am I not speaking English? Is this – I mean, is it coming across as a foreign – I’m not asking you if – no one is saying it’s not okay or it’s bad for the department to get a broad variety of input from different people. Asking – the question is whether or not you have determined that there was nothing improper here.”
However, it did not help him get the answer he was looking for with Trudeau generally saying: “We feel confident that all the rules were followed.”