In more than two decades in the national spotlight, Bill and Hillary Clinton have time and again played word games with the American public.
From the former first lady’s immortal “vast, right-wing conspiracy” line meant to blame the couple’s persistent troubles on political foes rather than their own penchant for law-breaking, to the former president’s infamous quibbles about the meaning of the word “is,” the progressives’ favorite power couple have elevated obfuscation to an art form.
But with one sentence this week, FBI Director James Comey brought Hillary’s latest gambit to a quick end.
During a news conference in Washington Wednesday, Comey was asked about Hillary Clinton’s persistent description of the FBI’s probe into her use of a private, home-brew email server during her time as secretary of state.
For months, Clinton has tried to downplay the probe, brushing it off as a benign sounding “security inquiry,” like what a credit card company might conduct when an unusual purchase pops up on a customer’s record. (She likes the even more benign “security review,” too.)
Comey’s comment blasted Hillary’s two-word catch-phrase into oblivion.
“We’re conducting an investigation, that’s what we do,” Comey said, according to Fox News’ intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge. The G-Man at the top of the investigative food chain noted that he didn’t even know what a “security review” means.
Still, Hillary has insisted on playing those word games. In a “Face the Nation” interview that aired Sunday, for instance, she used her “security inquiry” line.
“I say what I’ve said now for many, many months,” Clinton said. “It’s a security inquiry. I always took classified material seriously. There was never any material marked classified that was sent or received by me, and I look forward to this being wrapped up.”
For Clinton, the political benefits of a “security inquiry” versus an “investigation” are obvious. For most Americans, an “inquiry” sounds like something that takes place in a lawyer’s office, with coffee mugs and bottled water on the conference room table, and handshakes at the end.
“Investigation” sounds like tapped phone lines, secret informants, deep diving into a sea of records, and handcuffs at the end.
Considering that the FBI has offered immunity to the computer tech who set up and maintained Clinton’s email server in her New York residence, it’s long been clear that there’s more than a “review” involved.
And considering how it was only a week ago that Fox News’ Herridge broke the story about a Romanian hacker who bragged about how easily he had compromised Clinton’s server, how readily it could be broken into — and likely had been by intelligence services around the world — it’s pretty clear the agency managed by Director Comey has some serious lawbreaking in its sights.
Contrary to what she so casually and confidently maintains, Hillary might not be looking forward to this being wrapped up at all.