By Dave Lindorff
Clinton integrity issue starts with the Clinton Foundation
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Bernie Sanders, whose campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is on a roll following a stunning if narrow win in last Tuesday's Michigan primary, where he embarrassed pollsters who were predicting a double-digit rout by Hillary Clinton only a day before the voting, has famously said he's "not interested" in the issue of his opponent's exclusive use, during her five years as Obama's Secretary of State, of a private, instead of government email account and server.
He should be. But forget about the right-wing charges of leaked diplomatic cables -- the big issue is what kind of diplomatic favors she was selling. and to whom.
Clinton's achilles' heel is the widespread feeling even among many of those Democrats voting for her, that she is basically "not trustworthy." People have good reason to feel that way, and it's not just the way she changes her tune, her positions, and her accounts of her prior positions faster than an octopus or Chameleon. She is demonstrably a serial liar.
Take Clinton's claim that she opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership, a new NAFTA-like trade pact being pushed by the Obama administration and most members of Congress, which threatens to essentially gut the right of the US and other signatory nations to enforce or even enact worker safety, environmental protection and other laws. The TPP would accomplish this abrogation of national sovereignty by allowing corporations -- even foreign subsidiaries of US corporations -- to sue over such laws and claiming massive damages, on the grounds that they violate the terms of the TPP. The treaty even allows them to bring their cases to non-governmental arbitration panels, which could overrule national courts. Clinton may claim on the campaign trail that she's against this horrific treaty, but as Secretary of State, when her office was helping to negotiate it, she was calling it "the gold standard" of trade treaties. Or take her initial claim, when Sanders began calling her out for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks for which she was paid as much as $225,000 a pop. Initially she made the absurd excuse that these paid speeches were delivered "before I had decided to run for president."
Actually, she gave three of those speeches, for a total of $675,000, to Goldman Sachs in late 2013, after she had left the Obama State Department precisely in order to prepare for her presidential run. Even the suggestion that she wasn't planning to run earlier than that is an insult to the intelligence of the voter, but it was in any event widely known that her departure from State was so she could start working -- and building up a campaign warchest -- for a 2016 presidential campaign. In fact, that's what she was doing negotiating and gathering in those fat speaking fees (though because she had not formally announced yet as a candidate, neither she nor the banks had to report the money as campaign swill).
The reason Sanders should now start pressing her about the emails, which he earlier chivalrously dismissed as a non-story, is that the Clintons don't do anything by accident. Hillary Clinton has defended her use of a private email system while she was Secretary of State as nothing new. "Everyone did it," she has said dismissively, "Including (G. W. Bush's Secretary of State) Colin Powell." But while it's true her predecessor Powell and her successor, John Kerry, may have at times used private email for their personal correspondence, they didn't, as Clinton did for five years, use a private email system exclusively. Big difference!
And there is good reason to suspect the reason she went to such lengths to keep full control over her email has to do with money and i.