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    Hillary has a Blumenthal Problem

    Hillary has a Blumenthal Problem

    Two of them.

    I knew that Hillary was going to have a Blumenthal problem for her 2016 campaign.

    But I expected that the problem would be Max Blumenthal, son of close Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal.

    Max, the virulently anti-Israel activist, has been the subject of much controversy because of his penchant for vituperative and outlandish attacks on Israel, not the least of which was his call for Israeli Jews to be indigenized after the end of the Jewish state. See our Max Blumenthal Tag for some background.

    The issue with Max was whether Hillary could have Sidney as an advisor given Sidney’s seeming support for Max’s antics, if not his anti-Israel agenda. Buzzfeed reported on the problem back in November 2013, Clinton Adviser Sid Blumenthal’s New Cause: His Son’s Anti-Israel Book:

    A veteran confidant of Hillary Clinton has waded into a bitter argument over the explosive topic of Israel, defending his son’s intensely anti-Israel book from a liberal critic.

    Sidney Blumenthal, a former New Yorker writer turned Clinton adviser from the White House to the 2008 campaign, has been waging an online campaign against Nation columnist Eric Alterman for negatively reviewing his son Max Blumenthal’s book, Goliath. The book was described by Alterman, himself a frequent critic of Israel, as “awful” and something that “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).”

    Clinton Foundation officials refused to respond to questions of whether the elder Blumenthal is currently on a Clinton payroll.

    His son’s book has received little attention in the mainstream press but has proved extremely controversial in the corners of the Internet devoted to debate over Israel; its repeated comparisons of Israeli Jews to Nazis have particularly inflamed several commentators. The author is a prominent figure on the hard left of the Israel debate who has argued in the past that the “non-indigenous” majority of Israelis should not remain in the country now known as Israel. The book was released under the Nation Books imprint and an excerpt of it ran in The Nation.

    In a follow-up blog post after the initial review, Alterman wrote that he had become the target of emails sent around by Blumenthal to friends and associates as a result of his review of the book….

    “I actually feel for Sid,” Alterman said. “Leaving aside the quality of Max’s journalism, it has to be painful for any Jew to see your own kid going around calling Jews ‘Nazis’ and ‘fascists,’ and insisting that not only should Israel be destroyed, but its Jewish population should be kicked out.”

    The Buzzfeed story resulted in an extended Twitter fight accusing Buzzfeed of a “smear.”

    As to 2016, I believe Max would have become an issue for Hillary so long as Sidney was her advisor. Whether that’s fair or not, family associations frequently become issues in campaigns.

    But we may not have to wait that long, because Hillary has another major Blumenthal problem: Sidney himself.

    The NY Times reports, Clinton Friend’s Memos on Libya Draw Scrutiny to Politics and Business:

    … Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a Republican who is leading the congressional committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, plans to subpoena Mr. Blumenthal, 66, for a private transcribed interview.

    Mr. Gowdy’s chief interest, according to people briefed on the inquiry, is a series of memos that Mr. Blumenthal — who was not an employee of the State Department — wrote to Mrs. Clinton about events unfolding in Libya before and after the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. According to emails obtained by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.

    The NY Times review of the emails revealed some potential misconduct tying in the core of the Clinton 2016 campaign attack machine, Media Matters and American Bridge:

    But an examination by The Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.

    While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and the planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. During the same period, he also worked on and off as a paid consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge, organizations that helped lay the groundwork for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

    The Times has posted excerpts from some of the emails.

    Sydney is a problem for Hillary because his dealings smack of the insider cronyism, blurring of ethical boundries, and abuse of the Clinton Foundation that are causing Hillary’s negatives to rise.  Add Benghazi and Libya on top of that, and it is a made for TV melodrama.

    The close association reflects poorly on Hillary as well, as Roger Simon succinctly tweeted:

    Hillary’s supporters will invest $2 billion or more in her campaign.

    Expect Sidney to be shown the door. Maybe.

    [Featured Image: Bill Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal in the Oval Office, 1998]

    [Note: The Sub-Title was changed after publication to better reflect the scope of the post.]


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    Sammy Finkelman | May 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    The New York Times does mention e-mails “stolen by a Romanian hacker and published by Gawker and Pro-publica in March.”

    The Benghazi e-mails were posted on the Internet in March of 2013. Gawker published something. Pro-Publica published an article in March of 2015. It gives that as the source for some information about Blumenthal and others helping to plan an associate of Blumenthal’s first trip to Libya in 2011.

    Blumenthal wouldn’t comment about anything saying the FBI had asked him not to comment because he theft of his e-mails remained under investigation.

    What I am interested in is: Did Russia add fake e-mails just like they added fake chapters to Hillary’s book “Hard Choices” and even excerpts from an imaginary book by Hillary and circulate them in the Middle East..

    Henry Hawkins | May 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Sammy, dude, get a hobby.

    Sammy Finkelman | May 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    The New York Times says Sidney Blumenthal sent at least 25 e-mails about Libya to Hillary Clinton in 2011 and 2012. These reports imitated the style of official government intelligence reports but without an assessment of motives of sources.

    She would forward them, often to Jake Sullivan, and ask him to forward them to others. In many cases he would paste the text into an e-mail and say that it had come from a “contact” of Hillary Clinton.

    Some of these memos urged Hillary Clinton to consider possibilities that some American diplomats knew to be false.

    They would often reply with polite skepticism. Ambassador Chris Stevens, for example, took issue with a Blumenthal memo in April 2012 that claimed the Moslem Brotherhood was going to make gains in the Libyan parliamentary elections. He was right – they didn’t do well.

    Another time a diplomat replied that Hillary’s anonymous source appeared to be confusing two Libyan politicians who had the same name.

    One time at least Hillary herself was openly skeptical, maybe in order not to make herself appear stupid, writing that “This one strains credibility” when she forwarded a March 2012 memo from Sidney Blumenthal that said there was a plan by French and British intelligence officials to encourage tribal leaders in eastern Libya to declare a semi-autonomous zone.

    But she passed in on nevertheless, like she had some kind of agreement with Bill Clinton or Sidney Blumenthal to do so.

    Very often, though, Hillary would make a comment like “Useful insight” or “We should get this around asap” when she forwarded the e-mail to Jake Sullivan.

    The latest date mentioned by the New York Times is August, 2012, when Blumenthal sent a memo saying the new president of Libya would “seek a discreet relationship with Israel” and had “many common friends and associates with the leaders of Israel.”

    Hillary Clinton wrote Jake Sullivan: “If true, this is encouraging. Should consider passing to Israelis.”

    Valerie | May 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I’m not sure there is any “there,” here. Cronyism and abuse of the Clinton Foundation, maybe. But the existence of these emails does not impress me, unless there is something of substance in them. Hillary could easily claim that Sidney sent these memos out of a desire to be helpful, and she passed them on to the pros on the theory that even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. People do like to volunteer advice.

    There is absolutely no doubt that Sidney Blumenthal wanted to influence policy. So?

    Sammy Finkelman | May 19, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Clinton lawyer David Kendall claimed in a letter to the gowdy committee:

    …that Hillary Clinton used only one e-mail address for everything (throughout her tenure I assume.

    Note he doesn’t say that [email protected] was the only one was the only one she used during her entire tenure at the State Department, only that the other one that Gowdy Committee has, [email protected], was created only in March, 2013 after the hdr22 email address had been published, and that it appears on all the paper printouts only for the reason that she had changed from one to the other.

    But [email protected] is the email address Blumenthal ailed to.

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