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Stop Attacking Hillary

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Amidst reports of Donald Trump's meltdown, a significant news item went almost unreported: MSNBC noted that the number of FB1 agents working on the Hillary Clinton email kerfuffle is not "147" but "12." The initial exaggeration was further evidence of the massive effort to demean and discredit Clinton. These attacks should stop. Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy.

If you have followed Hillary Clinton's career, you understand there have been few periods where there were not rumors of some sort of Clinton scandal; beginning, in 1992, with Whitewater and, most recently, Benghazi. In 1998, Clinton spoke of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her and Bill.

There's continuing evidence of this conspiracy; although recently most of its energy has been directed towards President Obama -- for example, claiming he is a Muslim.

Over the past seven years, there have been three distinct attacks on Hillary Clinton. Since the September 11, 2012, attack on a State Department outpost in Benghazi, Libya, Republicans have accused Clinton of malfeasance. This culminated in an 11-hour hearing before a House Select Committee. Clinton got positive reviews for her deportment and refuted all charges. Unfortunately, the protracted investigation dragged down her approval ratings and opened up an email controversy.

The right-win conspiracy rumbles on. In February, during a Republican presidential debate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio accused Hillary Clinton of "lying" to the four families of victims of the Benghazi attack. However, the non-partisan website, Politifact concluded: "There simply is not enough concrete information in the public domain for Rubio or anyone to claim as fact that Clinton did or did not lie to the Benghazi families."

Recently, the conspiracy has focused on Clinton's email. During the summer of 2014, the Benghazi investigation revealed that Secretary of State Clinton had handled some email outside the normal State Department system, on her own server. While this was not illegal, it was unusual and invited further investigation. Of course, this impacted Clinton's approval ratings. Many Republicans believe that Clinton will inevitably be indicted; as do some Bernie Sanders supporters, who hope this indictment will lead to his winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

The indictment won't happen. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, and others, have concluded that it is unlikely Hillary Clinton will be indicted over her use of a private email server. Law professor Richard Lempert observed: "Based on what has been revealed so far, there is no reason to think that Clinton committed any crimes with respect to the use of her email server, including her handling of classified information."

But the relentless onslaught of the right-wing conspiracy has taken a toll. Over the past seven years, Hillary Clinton's approval ratings have lost sixteen points -- from 56 percent to 40 percent.

Now Clinton is being assaulted by the Sanders campaign. First there was the accusation that she's a tool of Wall Street because she has accepted donations from individuals who are in the financial sector. Now the Sanders campaign has accused her of being a tool of the fossil fuel industry. About fossil fuel money, Politifact noted: "In fact, people in the fossil fuel industry have given to both campaigns" Clinton's campaign has received $307,561 from people who work for oil and gas interests so far in the presidential race. Sanders has received nearly six times fewer dollars -- $53,760." On April 6th, Bernie Sanders said, "I don't believe that [Hillary Clinton] is qualified" to be President because she takes special-interest money.

Last week, the Mother Jones' political correspondent, Kevin Drum wrote an important article about Hillary. He quoted another correspondent, Jill Abramson, who has covered Clinton for 20 years, who observed. "There are no instances I know of where Clinton was doing the bidding of a donor or benefactor." Drum concluded: "The truth is that regardless of how [Clinton] sometimes sounds, her record is pretty clear: Hillary Clinton really is fundamentally honest and trustworthy."

On April 6th, Politifact updated it's "truth-o-meter" for statements made by each candidate. Bernie Sanders had a 50 percent rating for "true" or "mostly true;" Hillary Clinton had a 52 percent rating for "true" or "mostly true."

Recently, Nate Silver of 538 pointed out it is extremely unlikely that Bernie Sanders will get the Democratic nomination: Sanders would have to carry the remaining contests by an average of 13 percentage points. Feeding off this, Paul Krugman called on the Sanders campaign to quite depicting Clinton negatively: "The Sanders campaign needs to stop feeding the right-wing disinformation machine. Engaging in innuendo suggesting, without evidence, that Clinton is corrupt is, at this point, basically campaigning on behalf of the RNC."

That's the situation in a nutshell: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy. She's probably going to be the Democratic presidential nominee. The prospect of a historic Democratic landslide is in sight. The Sanders campaign must stop attacking her.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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