The Republican National Committee appears to have gathered some fresh ammunition for the party’s presidential nominee as the second presidential debate nears. A cache of emails obtained by the party under the Freedom of Information Act and partially released to the Wall Street Journal, show that the Obama White House and the Department of State coordinated on a response to the revelation that Hillary Clinton had used a private email server while she was serving as secretary of state.
The emails indicate that the White House was seeking to deflect attention from the issue in early 2015, even before Clinton officially declared her candidacy for the Oval Office. In one exchange, the White House communications director corresponds with a top spokesperson for the Department of State about the possibility of having Secretary of State John Kerry avoid interviews where he could be asked about the email scandal.
“Their discussion included a request from the White House communications director to her counterpart at the State Department to see if it was possible to arrange for Secretary of State John Kerry to avoid questions during media appearances about Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement,” the Journal reported.
Another exchange shows State Department officials corresponding with Clinton’s personal attorney over material that the department had just made public.
None of the emails released to the Journal appear to show any actual wrongdoing. White House staff are not completely prohibited from participating in political activity.
However, the emails will contribute to the narrative that GOP nominee Donald Trump has been trying to establish: that the system is unfairly “rigged” in favor of Clinton.
At an invitation-only town hall meeting in New Hampshire Thursday night, Trump continued to push the idea that there is a broad conspiracy against his campaign, claiming that in the first debate he was hammered with much more difficult questions than Clinton was.
“She gets easy ones,” he complained. “By the way, have you noticed the difference? I’m getting boom, boom, boom. With her, ‘What would you do to fix the economy?’ Of course, that’s actually a much tougher question than you would understand, and she doesn’t have a clue, but you see the questions I was getting.”
The event was seen by everyone except Trump as a dry run for the debate Sunday night, in which he and Clinton will square off in a town hall-style event moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. (For his part, Trump adamantly denied that he was practicing. “They were saying this is practice for Sunday,” Trump said. “This isn’t practice. This has nothing to do with Sunday.”)
However, if it was practice, it wasn’t very demanding practice. Among the softball questions Trump was asked were queries about his favorite childhood memory and his perception of media bias favoring his opponent.
Trump, as usual, couldn’t resist raising the issue of Clinton’s health and stamina. After criticizing her for her preparation for their first encounter -- preparation that served her well, by any reasonable standard, he told the crowd that this time around he doesn’t think she’s preparing at all.
“You really think Hillary Clinton is debate prepping? Hillary Clinton is resting,” he said.