Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Hillary Clinton campaign manager, Robby Mook, did his dead-level best to steer Chris Wallace away from the fact that Clinton and John Podesta blatantly lied when they claimed FBI Director James Comey only informed House Republicans about the new email investigation.
First, Wallace played a clip from Friday evening in which Hillary Clinton said: “If they’re going to be sending this kind of letter that is only going originally to Republican members of the House, they need to share whatever facts they claim to have with the American people.” Then, the following exchange occurred between the two:
WALLACE: “Robby, why would she say something that is so flatly untrue? I have a copy here–it’s not very long–it’s the letter that Comey sent to Congress. On the front page, it’s got the eight Republican chairman of the committee. If you just turn it over, next page, you’ve got the eight top Democrats on the committee. Why would she say that it was just sent to the Republicans when, in fact, it was sent to the Republicans and Democrats?”
MOOK: “You know, Chris, this has been really overhyped–“
WALLACE: “Well she said it. I didn’t.”
MOOK: “We were all surprised by this letter. She looked at the front page–and as you just said yourself–on the front page of that memo, it lists those Republican chairs. Were the Democrats cc’d at the end of the letter? Absolutely. She looked at the front page of the letter. She has acknowledged, we’ve all acknowledged, this was sent to everybody.”
Mook then pivoted, and complained at length that the FBI hasn’t specified what information has been found, or if such information would warrant a new investigation. Chris Wallace wasn’t having it, pulling Mook right back to the center of the bullseye.
WALLACE: “But Robby, I want to make one more point about this letter. You say it’s hyped. Comedy sent the letter at about 1 p.m. Eastern time on Friday. Your campaign chairman, John Podesta, put out a statement at 3:45 p.m. in which he made exactly the same charge that this letter had been sent ‘just’ to the Republicans, not to the Democrats.
Three hours and fifteen minutes later, Hillary Clinton makes the same charge. This was a talking point of your campaign, and frankly, it was a dishonest talking point.”
Mook spun away, saying: “Chris, if your question is that if Democratic leaders were cc’d on that letter, the answer is absolutely yes.” He then went right back to questioning Comey’s motives, and wondering why the FBI hasn’t made public what it knows.
Here’s the full Podesta statement in which he mentions House Republicans twice, but not Democrats, as tweeted by team Clinton’s Rob Flaherty:
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) October 28, 2016
It wasn’t only Clinton and Podesta who conveniently omitted Democrats from the situation. Clinton press secretary, Brian Fallon, tweeted the following at 4:37 p.m. Friday:
Both campaigns now agree Director Comey needs to put forward more information about what prompted this letter to GOP chairmen.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) October 28, 2016
Clinton has since referred to the letter as “put out by the FBI,” though she still never mentions House Democrats.
This is a master class in spin. Although it seems like a stunningly trivial matter, every action–even the most minute–leads to a proportional reaction. By leaving out the fact that House Democrats were sent the letter at the same time as House Republicans, it makes FBI Director Comey appear more partisan than he may actually be. This, in turn, gives pro-Clinton journalists and supporters the opportunity to amplify the notion that this is no more than a political hit job.
Mook said “we’ve all acknowledged,” that the FBI letter was sent to House Democrats as well as Republicans. The use of the phrase “we’ve all” is deliberately nebulous. To whom is he referring? No one can say for sure, and that’s exactly the point. He himself only admitted as much under intense pressure from Chris Wallace.
However, what matters is the immediate response from Clinton and her campaign surrogates because that’s what receives the most media coverage. Clinton’s first response omitted Democrats; Podesta’s first response omitted Democrats; Fallon’s tweet omitted Democrats; these are the statements that will be played and read repeatedly because they came first.
To be fair, House Republicans were the leaders of the email investigation. However, it’s not as if the Democrats weren’t involved. It was a bi-partisan panel.
In the end, what most people will remember is that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to “Republicans” telling them he was opening up the investigation. This will allow people to believe and repeat the idea that Comey’s actions were partisan nonsense, when in reality, such a thing is far from provable.