Why do I keep thinking about Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner together?
Ah, yes—could it be because both have sought to hide from scandals swirling about them in much the same way: hiding.
In a way, Mrs. Clinton seems like a higher level version of Lois Lerner; Mrs. Clinton is not quite taking the Fifth, as the disgraced IRS official did. But she also is refusing to just walk before the cameras, into the open, and take questions.
If must be infuriating to Team Hillary that an editorial in the New York Times, not exactly a bastion of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, is calling for Mrs. Clinton to do just that:
Nothing illegal has been alleged about the foundation, the global philanthropic initiative founded by former President Bill Clinton. But no one knows better than Mrs. Clinton that this is the tooth-and-claw political season where accusations are going to fly for the next 19 months. And no one should know better than the former senator and first lady that they will fester if straightforward answers are not offered to the public.
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.
The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.
The messiness of her connection with the foundation has been shown in a report by The Times on a complex business deal involving Canadian mining entrepreneurs who made donations to the foundation and were at the time selling their uranium company to the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company. That deal, which included uranium mining stakes in the United States, required approval by the federal government, including the State Department.
The editorial could not be more measured—or more devastating.
If Mrs. Clinton has done nothing wrong, why not just open up in a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred press conference?
The subject of the Clinton finances is indeed complicated, but Mrs. Clinton certainly knows whether she and her husband have engaged in anything illegal.
It is true that Mrs. Clinton is not a natural politician. Empathy is not her gift. But the famous press conference she gave at the U.N. when the story of her erased emails broke failed not because she was cold or hard or brittle. She was all of those things. But the presser was a failure because Mrs. Clinton didn’t answer questions. She was shepherded away before the press could finish questioning her, and she didn’t present a reason for why she did what she did that was both convincing and ethical.
Can she do better if she addresses her newer problems?
Mrs. Clinton is hiding behind unsatisfying, lawyerly responses:
The Clinton team is on defense, telling the New York Times that there was not a “shred of evidence” suggesting that Hillary influenced the deal to reward donors of the Clinton Foundation.
“To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” spokesperson Brian Fallon explained.
Like Lerner, Mrs. Clinton refuses to tell us what she did when working as a public official. Like Ms. Lerner, Mrs. Clinton seems to be hoping to wait it out. Since being president is even more powerful than working for the dread IRS, Mrs. Clinton will eventually have to say something. It will be an interesting moment in American history.