Democrat Senator Bob Menendez to Be Indicted on Corruption

According to an exclusive report published first by CNN, Democrat Senator Bob Menendez will be indicted by the Department of Justice on federal corruption charges. 

The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.

People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors' request to proceed with charges, CNN has learned exclusively. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.

The government's case centers on Menendez's relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.

Menendez has been under fire over the past three years for allegations of hiring underage prostitutes  in the Dominican Republic, for accepting suspicious campaign donations and much more. Yahoo has a rundown of the scandals surrounding Menendez here

I should point out that the timing of the indictment is interesting. Menendez has been a harsh critic of President Obama's policy and negotiations with Iran and has been a staunch supported of Israel.

The Friday Filibuster: Brought to You by the Most Transparent Administration in History

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

4 - the number of Pinocchios WaPo gave President Obama for his Keystone Pipeline claims

19 - the number of Christian hostages released by ISIS.

51 percent of informed voters would choose Gov. Walker over Hillary Clinton.

55 percent of registered voters oppose President Obama's most recent executive actions on immigration.

19 percent of South Carolina Republicans would choose Jeb Bush if the S.C. Republican primary were held today.

53 percent of registered voters disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.

42 percent of voters doubt Obama’s patriotism.

“Sharknado 3” will feature Ann Coulter as vice president. 

257 - the number of representatives in the House who voted to pass ‘clean’ legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security until the next budget year.

5 - the number of votes the Senate was short in order to pass a Keystone override.

HRC Drama

In 2007, Hilary Clinton chided Bush administration officials for using “secret White House email accounts.” But apparently she didn’t really care all that much about the law or security breaches, because not only did she use (multiple) personal email accounts to conduct official State business, but she even used a server from her family home to do so, which of course gave her additional legal protections. The irony is that Clinton’s State Department forced the resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up a private email system for his office. The White House is squirming on how to address this one given that it's been a common practice in the 'most transparent administration in history.' Press Secretary Josh Earnest though refused to say whether or not they trust her claims that she followed the law in choosing to use her personal email, and the White House Counsel’s Office reportedly had no idea she did this. Even the liberal media are turning their backs on her. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi Committee will be sending out subpoenas to get a closer look at her emails, and Judicial Watch is suing. Two days after the scandal was first exposed, Hillary took a belated stab at transparency and said that she wanted people to read her email … just as soon as the State Department releases them. Apparently, however, they already had 90 percent of the emails. The controversy also didn’t stop her from basically announcing that she’s running for president. But will this be a game-changer for her presidential aspirations?

Campaigns and Elections

Little doubt remains that famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson will take the plunge and run for president. Sources also indicate that Marco Rubio is growing increasingly frustrated in the Senate and unlikely to seek a second term, which paves the way for you know what. The Scott Walker PAC meanwhile made two important hires for their leadership board. And on the congressional side of things, former Rep. Todd Akin said he will not challenge Sen. Roy Blunt in a 2016 primary. I know, you’re heartbroken. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski is calling it quits after 2016. And taking her place may be Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who announced he will run for Senate in 2016.

Gun News

Despite the ATF, DOJ, and White House’s claims that the proposed ban on commonly used ammunition for AR-15s is necessary to protect law enforcement officers from “armor piercing” ammunition, that claim doesn’t pass the smell test. And the House Judiciary Committee Chairman said the ATF’s attempt to ban the ammunition through executive order is preposterous. Breaking news on this front happened Friday afternoon, as it was revealed the "green-tip" ammunition in question has already been reclassified as "armor piercing," meaning their comment period was just for show. In other gun news, New Yorkers are launching a new strategy to chip away at the extremely anti-gun SAFE act; the Maine legislature is considering whether to allow “constitutional carry;” and California had a record year in handgun sales. Oh, and according to a DOJ report, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” never actually happened.

Netanyahu's Speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in D.C. this week for his much anticipated joint address to Congress about the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel and the United States. The White House claimed to be unhappy about the visit due to the elections, but Conn explains the real reason was because they knew he would make a forceful case against Obama’s upcoming nuclear deal with Iran. Unsurprisingly, many Democrats boycotted the speech, while those who did attend decried it as condescending and urged the Israeli PM to just go home. Nancy Pelosi said the horribly insulting speech made her want to cry. Predictably, he did slam the nuclear deal and insisted if Israel has to act alone, it will. (PS: This is how Obama will bypass Congress on Iranian nuclear arms deal.)

Pro-life News

Despite reasons to doubt Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s pro-life credentials, he did seem to make up for it by pledging to sign a controversial pro-life bill. There were also a couple of inspiring stories that made the rounds this week, one about a 12-year-old girl who was brutally raped but still chose life, and another about a photo that proves fetuses aren’t ‘blobs of tissue’ in early stages of pregnancy. An excellent documentary about one pastor’s heroic efforts to rescue abandoned babies in South Korea also hit screens this week.

In other news

President Obama is ‘very interested’ in raising taxes through executive action. And according to the GAO, the chance of a ‘path to citizenship’ was a ‘primary cause’ of the 2014 migration surge, but we already knew that. And in an effort to justify his executive amnesty, President Obama on Friday invoked the “spirit of Selma.”

Townhall Exclusives

Sarah Seman was busy at CPAC last week. She sat down with Guy Benson to talk about his upcoming book, “End of Discussion,” interviewed millennials to find out what the most important issue to them is, and had some fun, asking attendees which politician they’d most like to get a drink with. Also at CPAC, editors in the Townhall Media Group weighed in on whether Republicans should nominate a governor or senator in 2016. 

Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.

EXCLUSIVE: Common AR-15 Green Tip Ammunition Already Banned in New ATF Regulation Guide

On Friday February 13 at 4:00 pm, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms released a proposal to ban commonly used M855 "green tip" AR-15 ammunition under the guise of law enforcement safety. The same day the proposal was released, on a Friday of a three day holiday weekend, ATF opened up a shortened 30-day period for the public to submit comments about the new regulation. 

But it turns out, ATF has been working on a ban of AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition for quite some time and has already issued the ban in its new, 2014 Regulation Guide. For reference, ATF Regulation Guides come out approximately every ten years. 

When you take a look at the 2005 ATF Regulation Guide, you'll see an exemption for AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition, which means it exempted from the definition of "armor piercing" and therefore is legal on the federal level. 

When you look at the last page of the new, most recent ATF 2014 Regulation Guide, which was published in January, there is no longer an exemption for AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition.

The Office of Management and Budget must review and approve ATF Regulation Guides, which again, come out approximately every 10 years. This can take months and changes to Regulation Guides are not easily or often made. Because of the lengthy amount of time it takes for OMB to approve a new ATF Regulation Guide, ATF's comment period is just for show. ATF officials and the White House have (and never did) no interest in actually listening to or considering comments that are currently being submitted. The exemption for the ammunition in question has already been stripped out of the regulation handbook moving forward and "green-tip" has been reclassified as "armor piercing." The rules have been changed. Further, because of local rules and regulations in different states across the country having their own "armor piercing" standards based on ATF regulations, thousands of people in possession of AR-15 green tip ammunition have essentially been turned into felons overnight.

A review of the timeline: 

January 2015: ATF published a new, OMB approved Regulation Guide stripping AR-15 "green-tip" from its armor piercing exemption list.

February 2015: ATF proposes a ban (which they've already put in place through their handbook published in January) on AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition and opens up a comment period. 

March 16, 2015: The comment period about the proposed/already implemented ban on AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition closes, ATF ignores tens-of-thousands of comments because they were never going to consider them in the first place, and continues with the regulations outlined in the new 2014 Regulation Guide.

ATF changed the law unilaterally, didn't tell anyone about it and has now put up a bogus comment period that means nothing. Because of these actions, ATF and the White House have not only failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, but has gone around Congress to violate the Second Amendment rights of Americans. 

So, what' next? ATF is going to have to explain why the change was made under the radar and will also have to explain what this means for people in possession of "green-tip" ammunition after January 2015 when the new ATF Regulation Guide was published with the exemption missing. Is there no grandfathering period for possession? When will manufactures be forced to stop producing? What does this mean for buyers and sellers? States are also going to have to find a way to implement these regulations and define compliance under separate state ammunition possession laws.

Editor's note: The timeline listed above mistakenly said 2014 for all three dates. It has been corrected to 2015.

This post has been updated with additional information.

We Will Never Know If Hillary Broke Email Law

Hillary Clinton no doubt violated the spirit of the law when she set up her own private email server from her residence in Chappaqua, New York, to conduct official State Department business. 

That is why Congress passed, and President Obama signed, an amendment to the Federal Records Act in 2014, that requires all federal officials who use private email accounts to conduct official business to forward those private emails to their government account within 20 days.

But when Clinton was Secretary of State that 20-day time limit did not exist. 

She was, and is, still required by law to send all personal emails relating to official government business to the State Department for safe-keeping, but she is under no legal obligation to do so within a given timeframe and there is no way to verify if she has truly identified every relevant email.

Now, if it is ever revealed that Clinton did keep private emails conducting official business from the State Department, then she will be guilty of a felony.

But that would require a third party gaining access to all of her personal emails.

House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is reportedly trying to get Clinton to agree to let a neutral third party (like a federal judge or the State Department Inspector General) review Clinton's server, but Clinton is under no legal obligation to agree to such a deal.

“It’s somewhat ridiculous that we are trusting the decisions of private citizens hired by this person to preserve the country’s records,” John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency nonprofit, told BuzzFeed

But, unless Clinton agrees to give her server to a third party, that is exactly the situation we are facing.

Wait, The State Department Already Had 90 Percent Of The Emails Clinton Turned Over?

The Clinton email controversy isn’t going away, no matter how hard Media Matters’ David Brock–a die-hard Clintonite–tries to squash it. Clinton appears to have created multiple private email address, and a senior State Department official said that she was probably operating in direct violation of State Department policy regarding electronic communications for six years. Clinton’s way of executing official government business through a private server also exposed the United States to data breaches.

Additionally, it appears that 90 percent of the emails Clinton turned over could have already been in State’s hands since it was intra-department communication with employees using the state.gov email address. This pretty much kills any “she’s being transparent … because emails” talking point that some of her defenders have been peddling (via WaPo) [emphasis mine]:

Clinton did not address how she would handle records she did not submit to the State Department.

A Clinton aide would not say Thursday how many e-mails were withheld or describe the process used to decide which were purely personal.

Of the e-mails that were turned over to State, the Clinton aide said, 90 percent were correspondence between Clinton and agency employees using their regular government e-mail accounts, which end in state.gov.

The remaining 10 percent were communications between Clinton and other government officials, including some at the White House, along with an unknown number of people “not on a government server,” the aide said. The aide requested anonymity because the e-mails are not yet public.

Moreover, the policy of not using private email accounts on a routine basis for State Department officials has been in place since 2005, according to Politico. It’s been described as “clear cut.” To make matters worse, one of the reasons listed for the resignation of Scott Gration, our ambassador to Kenya, in 2012, was his use of a private email system.

The issue regarding the emails seems to be uniting left and right in media circles. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who describes himself as a "practical European socialist,” said, “Hillary Clinton’s [email] system was designed to defy Freedom of Information Act requests, which is designed to defy the law.”

Oh, and the reviewing process for these emails to see if they can be released to the public “could take months" (via AP):

The government will review a huge cache of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails for possible release after revelations she conducted official business as secretary of state in the shadows of a private account. The disclosure has raised questions in the buildup to her expected presidential run about whether she adhered to the letter or spirit of accountability laws.

The matter is expected to result in the eventual release of thousands of emails from her private account, opening a new window on her tenure in high office and providing potential fodder to critics.

Officials said Thursday the review by the State Department could take months, potentially a drawn-out distraction for Clinton and an unnerving development for the many Democrats who see her as the party's presidential nominee-in-waiting for 2016.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the government can censor or withhold emails to protect information that would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. It wasn't clear whether the State Department would automatically apply those provisions to its review of Clinton's emails, or use its discretion to release even emails that might be covered under those exemptions.

And the music plays on.

H/T Josh Rogin

Fmr. Clinton Aide Battles MSNBC Host Over Emails: We Believe Hillary Because She Said So!

Here's how Lanny describes himself on his web page: Lanny J. Davis is a lawyer, crisis manager, consultant, author, and television commentator. [He is also the former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton]. Here he is playing the role of hack, pit bull, crisis manager:

Will The Clinton Teflon Remain Impenetrable?

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Hugh Hewitt and Peter Robinson on PM Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress. Dennis Prager reacts to Netanyahu's speech. Bill Bennett and Carly Fiorina on last weekend's murder of Russian Boris Nemtsov. Hugh Hewitt and liberal Democrat/fellow law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky can not support Hillary and her email scandal. Dennis Prager on Obama's veto of the Keystone Pipeline bill.

Sources: Rubio's "Frustrated," Unlikely To Seek Second Term

The DC's Matt Lewis has the scoop:

Can you blame him? Honestly, even with majority-control, congressional Republicans are still struggling to green light tremendously popular, bipartisan job and infrastructure bills. The gridlock is frustrating. For him and the American people.

And yet the general consensus -- at least as I understand it -- is that Rubio was probably rolling the dice in 2016 because he would not run for two national offices concurrently. So he had to reluctantly choose one and his gut told him to run for president. According to these sources, however, there's more to the story. Rubio's "frustrated" in his current job and thus uninterested in sticking around or becoming the next Teddy Kennedy or Bob Byrd. In retrospect, we saw hints of this as recently as last week.

“I don’t want to be in politics my whole life,” he told Sean Hannity at CPAC. “I want to serve our country and do some other things.”

Reading between the lines, what are we to make of such statements? Is this a clear indication he's ready to leave the Senate? After all, he just locked up another mega-donor, all but declaring he's laying the groundwork for a widely anticipated presidential run.

We'll know with certainty soon enough.

Obama Invokes Selma To Justify Amnesty

President Obama invoked the "spirit of Selma" to justify his executive amnesty policies Friday in an interview with Sirius XM’s Joe Madison.

"The notion that some kid that was brought here when he was two or three years old might somehow be deported at the age of 20 or 25 even though they’ve grown up as American, that's not who we are," Obama said.

"That’s not true to the spirit of what the march on Selma was about," Obama continued. "When you think about the principle that was upheld that day and in subsequent days at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, it was the promise of an inclusive America, it was the promise of an America where everybody was equal under the law," he said.

But while granting amnesty to select illegal immigrants may be inclusive, it is the exact opposite of "an America where everybody was equal under the law."

Just look at Obama's own example of "some kid that was brought here when he was two or three years old" who we should not deport now that they are "20 or 25."

What if that kid came to the United States when they were 16 instead of when they were two? What if they came last year instead of 15 years ago? Are they still deserving of citizenship?

By what logic should we grant amnesty to an illegal immigrant that came here when he was 15 but deny it to one who came when he was 18? 

By what logic is an illegal immigrant who came to this country in 2010 entitled to to stay but an illegal immigrant who came in 2011 deserving of deportation?

Amnesty is all about drawing arbitrary lines that by definition treat people very unequally under the law.

Just consider this line of questioning from Erika Andiola at Obama's recent Telemundo townhall:

Hi, Mr. President. I’m a DREAMer from Arizona, the state where Sheriff Arpaio and ICE usually criminalize our communities. And my sister is here who actually qualifies for DACA extended, or would have qualified if it was implemented. And my mom is also here. She was, unfortunately, left out of your executive actions and she doesn’t have any citizen children; she only has DREAMers as children. And she is also in deportation proceedings. And because of a previous deportation that she did have and came back for us, she’s actually a priority in your deportation directive.

And so my question to you is, what’s going to happen to my family? Given the fact that immigration reform, it’s not going to happen any time soon, and we know that because of the politics in Congress -- what’s going to happen in the meantime with my mom and my family if immigration comes to my house once again?

Yes, why are parents who came to this country illegally and gave birth to a child here entitled to Obama's amnesty program, but parents who came to this country illegally and brought their existing children with them not? 

Obama claims it is because he is not legally allowed to do give temporary legalization benefits to both. But that is a lie. There is no law, regulation, or court case anywhere that says parents of children born in the United States are entitled to stay in the country but parents who brought their children with them are not. Obama made that arbitrary distinction up out of thin air.

Nobody likes deporting people. And perhaps deportations are an action that should be reserved for just criminals and national security threats. 

But that is not the policy change that Obama and other amnesty activists have been pushing for decades. At least not openly. The policies that Obama and amnesty activists say they want would treat people very differently based on arbitrary factors like when they arrived in the country or why they came here. The chosen will get to stay and will be put on a path to citizenship. Everyone else, supposedly, would then be deported.

How is that in the "spirit of Selma"?

Report: Hillary Clinton Had Multiple Private Email Accounts on Server Used For State Department Business

As Hillary Clinton continues to dodge questions about why she conducted all of her State Department correspondence through a private email account, a new report from Fox News' James Rosen shows the former Secretary had many private email accounts on a server run from her Chappaqua, New York home.  Emphasis is mine.

Hillary Clinton appears to have established multiple email addresses for her private use, and possibly the use of her aides, under the domain of “clintonemail.com,” according to a prominent member of the hacking community who supplied independent research data, conducted with high-tech tools, to Fox News.

The hacker used an open-source tool, publicly available, called “The Harvester” to search a variety of data sources – including well-known platforms such as Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter and others – for any stored references to email addresses seen using a particular domain, in this case clintonemail.com.

The application of The Harvester to clintonemail.com revealed additional email addresses besides the one that Clinton aides have insisted publicly that she used, and have said was the only one that she used, when she served as Secretary of State: namely, hdr22@clintonemail.com.

A screen grab of The Harvester’s findings provided to Fox News by the source in the hacker community – whose professional resume also boasts extensive experience in the U.S. intelligence community – lists rather similar, but nonetheless different, email addresses, including hdr@clintonemail.com, hdr18@clintonemail.com, hdr19@clintonemail.com, hdr20@clintonemail.com, and hdr21@clintonemail.com.

Also unearthed by the hacking tool were email addresses of a slightly varied structure, including h.clinton@clintonemail.com, Hillary@clintonemail.com, contact@clintonemail.com, and mau_suit@clintonemail.com.

The White House and State Department have made multiple attempts this week to defend Clinton's use of personal email, but according to a new report from ABC News, Clinton was in direct violation of State Department policy for six years.

A senior State Department official tells ABC News that under rules in place while Clinton was secretary of state, employees could only use private email accounts for official business if they turned those emails over to be entered into government computers. They were also forbidden from including sensitive but unclassified information on private email, except under some very narrow exceptions.

This policy is still in place, according to the Department. Until any private emails are entered into government computers, the official says, an employee is in violation of the rules.

And perhaps the worst part of this entire scandal is the fact that Clinton put her own desires to avoid scrutiny and evade federal records laws about the national security of the United States by communicating sensitive information on an unsecure, personal server.

Security researcher Dave Kennedy of TrustedSec agrees: “It was done hastily and not locked down.” Mediocre encryption from Clinton’s outbox to a recipient (or vice versa) would leave all of her messages open to bulk collection by a foreign government or military. Or, if someone were able to copy the security certificate Clinton used, they could execute what’s called a “man in the middle” attack, invisible eavesdropping on data. “It’s highly likely that another person could simply extract the certificate and man in the middle any user of the system without any warnings whatsoever,” Hansen said.

The invalid certificate would have also likely left Clinton vulnerable to widespread internet bugs like “Heartbleed,” which was only discovered last spring, and may have let hackers copy the entire contents of the Clinton servers’ memory. Inside that memory? Who knows: “It could very well have been a bunch of garbage,” said Hansen, or “it could have been her full emails, passwords, and cookies.” Heartbleed existed unnoticed for years. A little social engineering, Hansen said, could give attackers access to Clinton’s DNS information, letting them route and reroute data to their own computers without anyone realizing. “It’s a fairly small group of people who know how to do that,” Hansen noted, but “it’s not hard—it’s just a lot of steps.”

As the Washington Post editorial board stated yesterday in an op-ed, this situation goes far beyond the use of email and Clinton has destroyed (for now at least) the public trust.

Fox News Poll: Fewer Americans Believe President Obama is Patriotic

Two weeks ago former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani took a lot of heat from the media when he said President Obama doesn't love America during a fundraiser for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It turns out, many Americans agree with Guiliani's assessment. 

According to a new Fox News poll, the vast majority of Americans believe the United States is the greatest country in the world, but a smaller majority believe President Obama feels the same way. 

The new poll also finds the numbers saying Obama is patriotic, honest or a strong leader have all declined in the past few years.

More Americans feel they love the United States than think Obama does: 83 percent think the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. Just 64 percent believe Obama feels the same way.

Overall, 54 percent of voters say Obama is patriotic, yet that’s down from 60 percent who felt that way in 2011. Again, party identification matters: the number of Republicans today who think the president is patriotic is down six percentage points from 2011, among independents it’s down four points and for Democrats it’s down one.

The poll shows 42 percent of voters nationally think there are “legitimate reasons to doubt” whether Obama loves America. That includes 66 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats.

Further, the poll found a majority of Americans do not believe President Obama is honest. 

Fewer voters than ever before see Obama as honest: a record-low 43 percent. And for the first time since 2007, a majority, 54 percent, disagrees that the president is “honest.”

VIDEO: What Politician Would You Grab a Drink With?

Here's a fun one. This year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (which is known for having a robust night life), we asked Millennials what politician they would want to grab a drink with. 

Spoiler: not one person said Hillary Clinton. 


California Had A Record Year In Handgun Sales

Despite being a bastion of unrestrained progressivism, Californians bought a lot of handguns in 2014. It was a record year, smashing the previous one set in 1993 when the country was experiencing high rates of crime. Like the national data on the subject, firearm-related homicides has fallen to record lows in the Golden State (via Sacramento Bee):

Dealers sold more than 510,000 handguns in California during 2014, more than double the number sold four years prior, according to new figures from the state Department of Justice.

Handgun sales in 2014 set a new California record, far outpacing the prior high of 433,000 handguns sold in 1993, around when violent crime peaked in the state.

Long gun sales slipped by 120,000 from 2013 to 2014. The 418,000 long guns sales in 2014 represent the third highest number on record, trailing behind 2012 and 2013.

Gun sales have increased dramatically nationwide and in California during the last few years following calls for more gun control in response to several mass shootings.

The rate of California homicides involving firearms continues to fall and is now at its lowest level in more than 20 years, state health figures show. Accidental deaths involving guns have also fallen.

That’s excellent news. Now, if only California became a “shall issue” concealed carry state that truly recognizes a citizens’ right to bear arms outside the home without being turned down for arbitrary reasons a la Maryland, then we’ll be talking. It’s moving in that direction. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the burdensome regulations in their concealed carry law as unconstitutional. A federal judge in the state also struck down the state’s 10-day waiting period as unconstitutional.

Sen. Sullivan Grills EPA Chief Over Offensive Comments About Alaskan Native Gifts

Gina McCarthy, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, overstayed her welcome in Alaska last year. When Alaskan native tribes honored the EPA worker with gifts, she returned the favor by telling the Wall Street Journal she threw one of the “f-ing things away” and that the moose meat she was given could “gag a maggot.”

During Wednesday’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) grilled McCarthy about her ‘disturbing’ comments that were featured in the largely positive Wall Street Journal profile.

“A lot of people saw that as a glowing article,” he said. “Most people in Alaska saw it as an incredible disrespect to the people of my state.”

Sullivan then offered McCarthy the opportunity to apologize for her insensitive comments. She did so, yet also insisted her words were ‘taken out of context.’

"I'm happy to apologize for those remarks,” she said. “I will tell you they were taken out of context, but it doesn't matter because they hurt individuals and tribes that I care about."

Sullivan nodded and agreed that her words had wounded the people of Alaska, but readily accepted her apology. 

During the hearing, the senator also chided McCarthy and her agency for not being accountable to the people they are supposed to serve and ‘rushing’ out rules without pausing to consider their legality. Watch the entire exchange below:

Flashback: HRC Slams Bush Administration For Using Secret Email Accounts

This day just keeps getting worse and worse for HRC. Video footage from 2007 has surfaced of Clinton slamming the Bush administration for none other than…you guessed it, having secret email accounts.

“You know our Constitution is being shredded,” she said. “We know about the secret wiretaps, about the secret military tribunals, the secret White House email accounts.”

This revelation comes after equally hypocritical news came out today about how Clinton’s State Department forced the resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up a private email system for his office.

H/T: The Gateway Pundit

Walker PAC Welcomes Top Iowa GOP Officials On Their Leadership Board

More 2016 grumblings: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s PAC, Our American Revival, announced today that they nabbed two top GOP officials from Iowa, Chad Airhart and Jarret Heil, to serve on the leadership board.

Via their press release:

Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart and Marshall County Treasurer Jarret Heil joined the Iowa leadership team of Our American Revival, an organization tasked with developing an issues platform based on Governor Scott Walker’s brand of big, bold reforms.

Airhart, a Waukee Republican serving his second term, is the chairman of the Iowa Republican County Officials Association. Heil, a Marshalltown Republican elected to his second term last year, is IRCOA's co-chairman. Past leaders of IRCOA, which represents approximately 550 officials statewide, include Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

"Chad Airhart and Jarret Heil are respected government officials and party activists who've accomplished so much on behalf of their local communities in such a short amount of time," Walker said. "They've been elected to leadership positions by their peers because they're committed to delivering efficient, effective services at the most local level of representative government."

On Feb. 1, Heil, 34, also assumed responsibilities as Marshall County auditor and recorder after the board of supervisors appointed him to fill the positions on an acting basis. He is believed to be the first Iowa official to assume simultaneous responsibilities for all three positions.

Airhart, 37, serves one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. During his first term, the Dallas County Recorder’s Office returned more than $1.15 million in the form of a surplus to the county general fund, alleviating the need for additional property tax dollars.

Airhart and Heil were both drawn to Our American Revival by Walker's leadership as Wisconsin's chief executive and his experience as a former Milwaukee County executive.

"I support Governor Walker and Our American Revival because he is a leader that has taken on serious challenges, and by applying common sense conservative principles, has moved his state in the right direction. Those same principles are the backbone of the Our American Revival mission," Airhart said. "Being a former Wisconsin legislator, county executive, and now governor that has been elected three times in four years, he is arguably the most accomplished sitting governor in America and I am now proud to help him promote policies that restore power to the states and their people.”

Heil added, "When Governor Walker was a county official, he voluntarily returned part of his salary and has a record of results when it comes to balancing budgets, meeting service needs and coming up with innovative solutions to tackle the toughest problems. That's putting your money where your mouth is and that's real leadership. It's also inspiring. We need to share that kind of leadership and vision across Iowa and across the country, and Our American Revival was formed to do just that. I'm very happy to be involved."

Iowa is seen as a make or break state for Walker. As John Fund wrote last January, many in the state are watching the possible 2016 candidate on right to work legislation, which recently passed the Wisconsin state Senate, and gambling; there’s an $800 million casino project based in Kenosha that might hurt him in the Hawkeye State if he signs on to it. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and 600 other Republicans sent a letter to Walker urging him to adopt a “No Expanding Gambling” policy.

Let’s see what happens.

Townhall/Gravis Poll: Jeb Bush is the Nominal Frontrunner in SC

In 2012, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary. If that election were held today, however, Jeb Bush would win it, according to a freshly released Townhall/Gravis Marketing poll:

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Almost 800 Republican primary voters participated -- an acceptable if not ideal sample. Usually, we'd like to see at least 1,000 respondents surveyed in a poll of this kind. Nevertheless, the reason Jeb Bush edges everyone else is because he does exceptionally well among crucial demographics. Despite the fact respondents were overwhelmingly white (87 percent), as Neil McCabe first pointed out, Bush is the most popular choice among women (17 percent), African-Americans (27 percent), and Hispanics (36 percent). That latter statistic is particularly impressive, although not necessarily surprising given his unrelenting support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The poll therefore suggests that if and when Jeb Bush enters the race -- that is, if he can keep his campaign afloat through Iowa and New Hampshire -- he stands a solid chance of winning the Palmetto State primary.

That’s especially true if Hispanics and African-Americans show up to the polls in greater numbers than the Townhall/Gravis poll projects:

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Department of Justice: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Never Happened

"Hands up, don't shoot."

That was the rallying cry adopted by liberal activists after the tragic death of Ferguson, Missouri, resident Michael Brown. Entertainers embraced it. As did sports teamssupposed journalists, and of course, Democrats in Congress.

There is just one problem. 

According to the man who shot Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, the phrase is a total fiction. 

Brown never raised his hands or asked Wilson not to shoot. 

And Wednesday the Department of Justice released a report confirming Wilson's story.

From the report:

Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. 

The DOJ report also found that, as Wilson claimed, Brown did reach inside Wilson's vehicle and strike him. The report also concluded that Brown did reach for Wilson's gun and was shot at close range in the vehicle when Wilson fought back.

In addition, no evidence was found that Wilson shot Brown in the back while Brown was running away from Wilson. All the evidence showed that Wilson only shot Brown after Brown stopped, turned around, and then charged Wilson.

In a footnote that report even notes, "The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot’ as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot.’ ”

The closest the report comes to mentioning such a "hand up don't shoot" scenario is an account of the shooting from "Witness 101" who gave multiple interviews to the media after the incident occurred. This is what the Department of Justice concluded about Witness 101's credibility:

Witness 101 has a misdemeanor conviction for a crime of dishonesty likely admissible in federal court as impeachment evidence. As described above, material parts of Witness 101’s account are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence, internally inconsistent from one part of his account to the next, and inconsistent with other credible witness accounts that are corroborated by physical evidence. It is also unclear whether Witness 101 had the ability to accurately perceive the shootings. Witness 101 likely crouched down next to a white Monte Carlo as Wilson chased Brown. The Monte Carlo was facing west with a view of the passenger side of the SUV. Brown ran in the opposite direction that the Monte Carlo was facing. Witness accounts vary as to whether Witness 101 was ducking for cover on the passenger side of the Monte Carlo with his back to the shooting, or whether he fled the scene prior to the final shots being fired. Both Witness 101’s inconsistencies and his ability to perceive what happened, or lack thereof, make his account vulnerable to effective cross-examination and extensive impeachment. 

Clinton Loses The Washington Post: "Use of Private E-mail Shows Poor Regard For Public Trust"

Hillary Clinton's email scandal is getting worse and for once, the mainstream media is paying attention in the right way. 

Earlier this week it was the New York Times that broke the story exposing Clinton used a private email account to conduct all of her government business during her time as Secretary of State. Then the Associated Press piled on with a report revealing Clinton not only used a private email account, she controlled her own server from her home in Chappaqua, New York. 

Now in a scathing op-ed, the Washington Post editorial board is pummeling Clinton for her bad judgement, pointing out it's especially egregious with her consideration of a White House run. Emphasis is mine. 

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.

Ms. Clinton is not the first high-ranking government official to write private e-mails about public business. But a host of questions arise from her decision to use private e-mail exclusively while serving as secretary. How secure was the private e-mail? What was her motive? Did anyone ask why the secretary of state was breaking with an announced administration policy? Why did she not turn over the e-mails promptly upon leaving office? Has she withheld anything?

It may be that Ms. Clinton used private e-mail because she anticipated Republicans would be on the prowl for scandal and wanted to control what part of her record might be scrutinized. Such fears would have had ample basis, but they do not excuse a penchant for control and secrecy that she has exhibited before — and that remains a worrying attribute as Ms. Clinton possibly enters a presidential campaign. Nor is fear of partisan criticism an even remotely valid excuse for using a private channel for official business.

If people aspire to public service, they should behave as stewards of a public trust, and that includes the records — all of them. Ms. Clinton’s use of private e-mail shows poor regard for that public trust.

Ouch.

The Post does give Clinton some leeway when it comes to compliance with federal records laws. The legality of Clinton's actions are very much in question. Liberal George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley has described the situtation as "certainly running against the grain when it comes to federal laws."

Is Obama Letting Iran Take Iraq?

Part of the reason President Obama is so eager to give Iran a nuclear weapons deal is that he wants the regime in Tehran to become "a very successful regional power."

So it should come as no surprise then, that not only is the White House well aware that Iran is participating in the current battle for Tikrit, but that Iran is actually leading the battle. Newsweek reports:

A notorious Iranian commander is spearheading the Iraqi offensive on the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, providing tactical expertise and a key link to Tehran for supplies to the Iraqi militias advancing on the terror group’s territory.
...
Major General Qasem Soleimani, the shadowy former leader of the elite Quds Force, the special operations arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), is directly overseeing the eastern offensive on Tikrit. The Iranian general has been pictured on the outskirts of the city in photos shared widely on social media.

Asked about Tikrit Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had nothing but praise for the operation and Iran's involvement in it:

This is an operation that the United States has been aware of for some time. The United States was aware of the planning for this operation and was obviously aware when it was begun. ... The good news is that this operation includes a multisectarian force. ... So that is why we are gratified that there aren’t just Iraqi security forces involved, but there are also fighters associated with local Sunni tribes who are engaged in this effort. ... The other thing that we’re mindful of is that Iranian forces are also involved. And we have said from the beginning that the United States will not coordinate militarily with the Iranians, but the fact that some Iranian military personnel are involved doesn’t change the priority that the Iraqis can and should place on this operation to ensure that it’s inclusive and multi sectarian. 

(emphasis added) Earnest did stress that "this is an operation that is led by Iraqi security forces," but is that really true? Where do the Iranian forces end and the Iraqi forces begin and does the Obama White House even care?

Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported last month:

On the front lines of Iraq’s war against Islamic State, it’s increasingly difficult to tell where the Iraqi army ends and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias begin. ... Late last year, the U.S. formally committed to train and equip three divisions of the Iraqi army. While some senior U.S. officials have had positive words for Iran’s role in the fight against Islamic State warriors, official U.S. policy is to support the integration of Iraq’s sectarian militias into the Iraqi Security Forces.

In Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, however, it’s the other way around. On a tour of areas recently liberated from Islamic State control, General Ali Wazir Shamary told me that ultimately his orders came through a chain of command that originated with Amiri. In other words, the Iraqi army is integrating into Amiri’s Badr Organization in Diyala as opposed to integrating the militias into the army

If it is Iranian forces, and not the Iraqi army, that ends up in control of Tikrit, that would be quite a gift to Tehran. And if the attack on Mosul scheduled for later this summer proceeds in much the same manner, and Earnest confirmed Wednesday it likely would, then it is worth asking how much of Iraq Obama will end up giving to Iran in addition to the right to build nuclear weapons.

That Time Hillary’s State Department Booted An Ambassador For Using…A Private Email Account

Well, this is awkward. Sean Davis at the Federalist  wrote about a rather interesting development in the Clinton email saga by finding a State Department Inspector General report from 2012 highlighting that Scott Gration, then-Ambassador to Kenya, was booted from his position after he … set up a private email account for his office in 2011 [bold text indicates State Department IG report]:

Although Hillary Clinton and her allies may be claiming that her private e-mail system is no big deal, Hillary’s State Department actually forced the 2012 resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system. According to a 2012 report from the State Department’s inspector general, former U.S. ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration set up a private e-mail system for his office in 2011.

The inspector general’s report offered a scathing assessment of Gration’s information security practices — practices that are eerily similar to those undertaken by Clinton while she served as Secretary of State:

Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff. Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business. The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards. The Ambassador compounded the problem on several occasions by publicly berating members of the staff, attacking them personally, loudly questioning their competence, and threatening career-ending disciplinary actions. These actions have sapped the resources and morale of a busy and understaffed information management staff as it supports the largest embassy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The inspector general’s report specifically noted that Gration violated State Department policy by using a private, unsanctioned e-mail service for official business. In its executive summary listing its key judgments against the U.S. ambassador to Kenya who served under Hillary Clinton, the inspector general stated that Gration’s decision to willfully violate departmental information security policies highlighted Gration’s “reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions.” The report claimed that this reluctance to obey governmental security policies was the former ambassador’s “greatest weakness.”

Now, to be fair, there were other things that paved the way for Gration’s exit. He was reportedly “erratic, controlling and bullying” in his management style. Josh Rogin, now with Bloomberg Viewwrote in Foreign Policy at the time that it was “one of the worst reviews of an ambassador’s performance written by the IG’s staff in several years.” Besides the private email system, Rogin added that Gration:

[S]et up private offices in his residence — and an embassy bathroom — to conduct business outside the purview of the embassy staff.

Other sources close to the embassy who worked with Gration related several anecdotes circulated by current and former embassy staff that are meant to highlight Gration’s erratic, controlling, and sometime bullying behavior.

Gration is said to have, upon entering the embassy, ordered that all heights of all the tables be adjusted and that all the clocks in the embassy be recalibrated, an indication of his eccentric style of micromanagement.

At one point in his battles with his newfound employees, Gration told embassy staff he would "shoot them in the head" if they didn’t follow his instructions, and the staff formally complained about that remark, according to one unconfirmed account.

Gration often bragged about his close ties to the White House and to the president himself, although the White House stopped returning his phone calls after the IG’s investigation results became known inside the administration.

Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard wrote that the standard cited in the 2012 IG report should apply to Hillary since it showed–rather explicitly–that government employees using a personal email account for official business isn’t acceptable.

Regarding Hillary’s personal email use, it’s still unclear if she broke the law, but some folks in left-leaning media outfits are saying she might have concerning the 2009 National Archives and Records Administration regulation on recordkeeping. Mother Jones’ David Corn (who appears to have moved on from the O'Reilly Falklands ordealwrote that Clinton and her staff should have known better, it was a wholly avoidable situation, and that it adds to the ongoing narrative that the Clintons are secretive and play by their own rules. Oh, and the State Department really didn’t answer his questions regarding if those personal emails were stored in the State Department’s system [bold text indicates NARA regulation]:

[A]ccording to the National Archives and Records Administration, there was a regulation in place governing Clinton's use of personal email for official business while she was secretary of state. And it seems she did not fully abide by this. In a statement issued today, the National Archives notes that it has "reached out to the State Department to ensure that all federal records are properly identified and managed." And the statement says:

Since 2009, NARA's regulations have stated that "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

This rule is clear: If Clinton used personal email to conduct official business—which apparently did not violate any federal rules at the time—all of those emails had to be collected and preserved within the State Department's recordkeeping system. That makes sense: The whole point of preserving official records of government business is to have this material controlled by the government, not by the individual official or employee. Yet in this case, Clinton and her aides apparently did not preserve all her emails within the system.

Asked whether her emails were kept within Foggy Bottom's system, her spokesman Nick Merrill replied with a terse email, "They were. State can speak to this." He did not respond to an email requesting further details. And when I asked the State Department if Clinton's emails were preserved, an official replied with a statement from deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf: "The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records—including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts." This did not address the question at hand: Were all her emails preserved within the department's system? Finally, I heard from another State Department official who explained on background that the department had preserved some of Clinton's emails, given that her emails to and from others within the State Department (at their official email accounts) had been kept within the system. Still, official-business emails Clinton sent to and received from people outside the State Department were not captured and preserved by the department's system in real time.

This seems to be a clear violation of that law, but there are still some die-hard Clintonites, like David Brock, who shamelessly defend this whole ordeal as a nothing burger. Noah Rothman over at Hot Air was able to clip Brock’s Morning Joe appearance, where his defense of the Clinton emails drew disbelief from the show’s hosts. Joe Scarborough read the 2009 NARA regulation repeatedly, but Brock held his ground to the point where co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now; are you reading [the 2009 NARA regulation] the same thing we are?”

“Sure I am, yeah,” responded Brock.

Poll: Obama Approval Slips as Americans See Weakness


A few notes from the latest Fox News poll, which spells out exactly who's winning the extraordinary public relations battle between Israel's Prime Minister and the Obama White House:






Team Obama and his Congressional lackeys continue to escalate their war on Bibi, which has felt historically acrimonious for awhile now. Americans love Israel, the Middle East's one flourishing, pluralistic, pro-America democracy -- but self-identified Democrats aren't so sure:


I'll leave you with this nugget on public views on Obamacare, which Americans understand is neither "working in the real world" nor "proving its critics wrong:"



Judicial Watch Sues For Clinton's Emails With Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

After ignoring a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in August 2014, government watchdog Judicial Watch has issued a lawsuit against the State Department for all emails between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her top aide Huma Abedin and wife of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, Nagla Mahmoud, from January 2009 to January 2013. It was discovered earlier this week that both Clinton and Abedine used personal email accounts to conduct government business, potentially violating federal records laws. 

The Judicial Watch lawsuit specifically seeks the following: 

A. Any and all records of communication between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nagla Mahmoud, wife of ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi, from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2013; and
B. Any and all records of communication between former State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin and Nagla Mahmoud from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2013.

“Now we know why the State Department didn’t want to respond to our specific request for Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s communications,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The State Department violated FOIA law rather than admit that it couldn’t and wouldn’t search the secret accounts that the agency has known about for years. This lawsuit shows how the latest Obama administration cover-up isn’t just about domestic politics but has significant foreign policy implications.”

WH Counsel's Office: Wait, Hillary Used Her Personal Email While She Was Secretary Of State?

Despite Hillary’s tweet, where she proudly proclaimed that all would be able to read her emails, this doesn’t really fix anything. Clinton could release them on her own time given that her personal email address was registered on a server operating out of her family home. To make matters worse, the White House Counsel’s Office reportedly didn’t know Clinton was using her personal email while serving as Obama’s Secretary of State, which not only opened the administration to data breaches, but was not in compliance with the guidelines given to agencies about using government email addresses for government business (via AP):

The White House counsel's office was not aware at the time Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person said Clinton's exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation's top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to agencies that official business should be conducted on official email accounts. Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed the guidance, the White House counsel's office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person who spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak on the record.

Since the revelations surfaced this week, the Obama administration has been pummeled by endless questions about Clinton, who hasn't formally announced a run. In the absence of an official campaign to defend her, the White House press secretary has been put in the awkward position of being a de facto Clinton spokesman and the most public voice speaking on her behalf.

Yet, as our White House Correspondent Conn Carroll wrote yesterday, the administration couldn’t say that they trust the Clinton camp in whether she followed the law concerning the use of her personal email account:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to say Wednesday whether or not he or the president trusts Hillary Clinton's claims that she followed the law when choosing to use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business.

"I haven't seen any evidence to indicate that they didn't do what they said they did," Earnest said when asked if he had confidence in Clinton's claims that she and her employees have turned over all of her personal emails relating to official government business. "But I also just want to be crystal clear abut the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed," Earnest continued, "to review her personal email and make sure that it was properly transmitted to the Department of State so that it could preserved and maintained."

"I don't mean to suggest that I somehow think they are not being honest," Earnest said, "I'm just making it clear that it is not something that, that it was not a task that was performed by an Obama administration official. It was a task the was performed by Secretary Clinton or someone on her team."

As I mentioned in a previous post, this is quite the unforced error on Clinton’s part; something you don’t want hanging around your neck when your national campaign announcement is reportedly a month away. Not only that, given today’s media, did she really expect us not to find out she used her personal email for official business? Ron Fournier’s of National Journal wrote that this trip-up should make Hillary reconsider her presidential ambitions. I like the sound of that, but as Guy wrote yesterday, it’s probably a pie in the sky idea: voters have short memories and we’re talking about the Clintons here; nothing will stand in their way to get what they want–even if the road to meet that end isn’t pretty. Yet, Guy gave three good reasons why this could effect her ambitions for higher office:

  1. A good chunk of Democrats–and the media–already don't like her for a variety of reasons ranging from policy to personality.
  2. Her record as Secretary of State isn't something that should be highlighted on the campaign trail because it's pretty bad.
  3. The email fiasco, coupled with the allegation that the Clinton Foundation accepted money from foreign governments while she served as Secretary of States, reminds people of the "ugliness" exuded during the Clinton years in the White House.  She's brings nothing new in the ways Obama–for better or worse–did in 2008.

Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza added to Guy's points, writing that she can’t tweet her way out of this, and

it "reinforces" every negative thing the American public thinks about the Clintons:

1. "They don't think the rules apply to them.": The idea that Clinton never had an official government e-mail address reeks of the idea that she believes that she is apart from (and above) the rules that govern those serving in government. No, Clinton isn't the first person in government to use a private e-mail but, as the Times piece suggests, she may be the first person to exclusively use one.

2. "They are surrounded by enablers.": Maybe the most amazing part of this story -- at least to me -- is that NO ONE ever took Clinton aside during her four years at State and said something like "Look, I know you mostly use your private e-mail address. But why don't we just set up an official government one, too." It's impossible to believe that everyone on the State staff thought that only using a private e-mail address was the right course of action for Clinton and that it had no possibility of backfiring on her.

3. "They're always hiding something.": It's, of course, possible that Clinton used a private e-mail account because she liked the user interface on it better than a clunkier government version or some other banal reason like that. But using an e-mail domain that is not subject to the same federal archiving rules -- yes, Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails, but who decided what e-mails to turn over and which not to? -- looks suspicious even to people who are not disinclined to take Clinton at her word. (And there are LOTS of people who are disinclined to do so.)

4. "They only think about politics.": The timing of the setup of Clinton's private e-mail account, first reported by Philip Bump in this space Monday night, is very problematic for the "nothing to see here" argument being put forward by the Clinton types. It was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be secretary of state. The expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election.

5. "They never own up to anything.": The Clinton camp response has been predictable -- and not so good. (In their defense, I'm not sure there exists a good way to respond to a story like this one.) “Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told The Post. Of course, that depends on what the meaning of "appropriate" is -- and is just the sort of statement that makes people think that these people really don't get it.

John Heileman and Mark Halperin, the managing editors for Bloomberg Politics, said that this email foul-up is both stupid and detrimental to Hillary’s pending campaign rollout. It divides Democrats between “those who are blindly loyal to the Clintons no matter what and those who say if she is going to run and win and govern effectively if she wins, she's got to change doing things that make her look entitled,” said Halperin. I appreciated Heileman’s Godzilla reference (I’m a HUGE Godzilla fan) in describing how dumb this move was on Clinton’s part saying, “It's like Godzilla with Mothra riding on his back dumb… It feeds the narrative of the Clintons only play by their own rules.”

Rep. Van Hollen: 'I'm Running for Senate'

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who is a regular fixture on the major television networks and currently serves as a ranking member on the House Budget Committee, is making moves:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced Wednesday he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

"I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great state of Maryland," Van Hollen wrote in an email to supporters. "In my very first election for Congress I believed that people were tired of politics as usual, and I ran a campaign based on key issues and ideas that matter to our future. The same is true today."

As a rising star in the Democratic Party and close confidant of the House Minority Leader, Van Hollen was rumored to be a viable candidate for Speaker if and when House Democrats put together a winning coalition. Apparently, however, he saw an opportunity and he's taking it. That being said, Van Hollen won’t necessarily coast to the nomination -- other progressive candidates will soon jump in -- although his electoral prospects got a bit better with this announcement.

Naturally, then, the general consensus is that the Democratic nominee (whomever that will be) will inevitably succeed outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). But is there any hope for a Republican upset? Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende, for his part, offers some very cautious optimism:

Could a Republican win the general election? Probably not. Maryland is something of a city-state, with most of its population living in urban and suburban areas around D.C. or Baltimore. Many of these voters are socially liberal, depend on the federal government for their livelihoods, and resist GOP anti-government rhetoric. Overall, this was Obama’s fifth-best state in 2012, giving the president a larger victory margin than Massachusetts or California.

In other words, a candidate like Dr. Ben Carson (who apparently has more ambitious plans in 2016 and little interest in Maryland politics) would struggle to catch fire. Then again, as Jonah Goldberg wrote earlier this week, since his presidential chances in 2016 are growing bleaker by the day, perhaps he should at least try:

I’m not trying to get Carson out of the race for president. By all means, there’s a little time for him to continue testing the waters. The filing deadline in Maryland is January of 2016. But if the outlook for the Oval Office looks bleak, he could do a great service to his party and his country by looking toward a more winnable race. If a Republican wins in 2016, there’s going to be a lot of work to do replacing Obamacare. Under those circumstances, it would be good to have another doctor in the house or, in this case, the Senate.

Of course it would. But barring a major reversal, it appears Dr. Carson's mind is already made up.