The Mystery of Hillary Clinton’s Vaults

Perhaps you remember way back in 1986 when Geraldo Rivera hosted a two-hour television special, syndicated and broadcast live to millions, that featured the opening of a supposedly secret vault that had belonged to Al Capone. Here’s how Rivera’s website now explains the premise of the show:

What, if anything, is in the vault of notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone ? Buried beneath the Lexington Hotel, the country watched as Geraldo found out. Live on location with a demolition crew, and using exclusive details, Rivera starts with taking down the outer wall.

“Exclusive details” notwithstanding, here’s how that fiasco, called “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults,” ended:

Towards the end of one of the most exciting hours in T.V., Rivera and team find an empty bottle and another wall. A disheartened team says goodbye to an empty vault.

An empty vault. An embarrassed journalist. A suckered public.

All of that reminds me of what is going on right now. American journalists, like Geraldo Rivera so long ago, have found a secret vault that once belonged to a notorious gangster. And, again like Rivera, journalists are using the slow opening of the vault to titillate the public, especially those that are hoping—The Mystery of Al Capones's Vaults.jpgand praying—to find some smoking guns inside that vault.

The gangster in this case is, of course, Hillary Clinton. And her vault is a trove of emails that, we are told by panting journalists, might—just might!—have some treasures inside that would reveal just how corrupt our gangster presidential candidate really is, when it comes to the Clinton Foundation and her time at the State Department. Just as an example of how this is sold to the public, here is a conversation I heard yesterday on MSNBC between host and journalist:

TAMRON HALL: Going back to this accusation from Donald Trump, where his quote was, “the amount of favors involved or favors done” in the emails that have been released in the latest group that we have been able to pore over, is there any indication of a specific favor beyond a meeting?

KASIE HUNT: At this point, no, Tamron, there is not. And that’s what the Clinton campaign is pointing to. In fact, the opposite basically is shown. And of course the issue here, and partly why this is such a problem for the Clinton campaign…is that this started about something else entirely, Benghazi that probe. You never know what actually might come out. This could end up being their “October surprise.”

You see? So far there is zero evidence of special favors or corruption. In fact, as Kasie Hunt admitted, “the opposite basically is shown.” But: “You never know what actually might come out.” It’s the Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults all over again. Just stay tuned and wait for the good stuff, the stuff that might finally bring the Clintons down and make Donald Trump president, or at least make the race close, which would be good for ratings and readers. Exciting, exciting, exciting.

In the mean time, there has, literally, been nothing to see. After thousands and thousands of emails have been examined by journalists and Clinton haters—often the same folks—there is absolutely nothing resembling corruption. No “pay for play.” Nothing. Oh, there is the usual stuff of Washington, for sure, as Kevin Drum explains:

The way Washington works—in fact, the way everything works—is that people socialize; they develop relationships; and they often try to leverage those relationships to call in favors. We have laws and institutions to try to put boundaries on this kind of thing, but it’s still ubiquitous. This is just the way homo sapiens is wired.

Everyone knows what Drum says is true. Yet somehow because the Clintons—trying to raise money for a charity that has done remarkable things around the world for millions of people—are involved in it, it is different. I have said this before but it should be repeated: The Clintons are often accused by journalists of playing by their own set of rules, of going rivera and caponeright up to the edge of what is permissible, if not going over the edge. But the truth is that journalists judge the Clintons by a different set of rules. Hillary especially is held to standards that just don’t seem to apply to anyone else in politics.

Those special Clinton standards allow journalists to frequently turn Hillary Clinton molehills into mountains while simultaneously reducing an entire range of Trump mountains into little molehills that he can overcome when he, finally, “pivots” and “stays on message,” a message that happens to be just what a lot of journalists are pushing about the Clintons and their charitable foundation.

Speaking of which, I’ll let Kevin Drum sum up what has been found, to date, in Al Capone’s Hillary Clinton’s vault:

We might yet find a smoking gun in all these emails. But so far, the trend is clear: lots of people talked to Huma Abedin to try to set up meetings with Hillary Clinton. Generally speaking, Abedin treated them politely but told them to get lost. That’s about it.

If some of these efforts had succeeded, that would hardly be noteworthy. It’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. What’s really noteworthy about the most recent email releases is that they demonstrate a surprisingly high level of integrity from Hillary Clinton’s shop at Foggy Bottom. Huma Abedin was tasked with running interference on favor seekers, and she seems to have done exactly that. There’s no evidence at all that being a donor to the Clinton Foundation helped anyone out.

So tell me again what the issue is here?

ADDENDUM: Vox published an excellent piece on the AP story that was full of sound and fury about “possible ethics challenges” for Clinton related to her family’s foundation and her possible presidency, but the story signified exactly nothing. “There’s no there there,” as Vox pointed out. A huge example of Geraldo Rivera journalism. Shameful.

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  1. Anonymous

     /  August 24, 2016

    What also is truly irritating is the media reports that Ft. Leonard Wood trainers here in Missouri portray Hillary and General Petraeus as “threats” to national security.
    Army pulls training slide that named Clinton as ‘threat’ – CNN

    The same media reports that 50% of Missouri residents still support Trump!
    Sad New Poll Shows Trump And Clinton Basically Tied In Missouri

    We’re not in a good place when half the people are foolish enough to support a maniac. Enough to make a hillbilly want to move, but like Tom Petty says, Don’t back down.


  2. It is confirmation bias desperately looking for hooks.

    I was very impressed with Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, when she was interviewed at length last night by Rachel Maddow. I would not have believed that anyone could defend the Orange Menace, but Conway was a master at changing the subject and deflecting. This thing ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings in November.


    • In my opinion, Rachel let her get away with too many deflections in an effort to appear “nice.” It was clear to me that Rachel is after a Trump interview, which she will never get. Last night was not one of St. Rachel’s finer interviews, although it wasn’t as bad as some folks on Twitter made it out to be. Because of her sterling reputation as a tough interrogator, Maddow has scared off a lot of potential guests, particularly Republican guests. And that interview last night was an attempt to show that those right-wing guests could come on the show and survive. So, she sacrificed a little bit of toughness for more access to the players on the other side. It is, after all, a business, as we all know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ansonburlingame

     /  August 25, 2016


    Welcome back. I have been waiting to read your defense of Hillary given the latest exposes from the media.

    Primarily because of her long history very much in the public arena Hillary has been subjected to a lot of public scrutiny. It is her general reaction to such scrutiny that makes her different. Hillary tries hard to defend every decision made over 25 plus years even when the outcome of her actions are obviously flawed, not illegal, just flawed.

    During the evening of Sept 11, 2012 I watched in amazement the events in Benghazi and asked “How can this possibly be happening, again”. An American diplomatic facility is overrun, people killed, the facility burned to the ground, etc. Thoughts of Iran in 1979 came to my mind. My more specific question was “How could the NCA let this happen without at least an attempt to mitigate the chaos?”

    The next day the spin machine was unleashed on the American public and that last question has never been answered to at least my satisfaction.

    Whenever the Secretary of State, whomever it might be, engages in a conversation or writes anything related to “official business” you can bet that much of the information exchanged has some underlying basis based on intelligence collection as well. I am not talking about cocktail party chit chat either. “The Prime Minister of ….. is intending to ….. and here is what I am thinking about doing about it”. How does she know what the prime minister is intending to do? A general discussion about “what she is going to do about it” is also, hopefully, at least “sensitive information”.

    As a low level guy in the Pentagon years ago just about everything I thought, did, said or wrote had a direct correlation to classified material, most of it Top Secret as it was related to Soviet capabilities and possible American responses in the Cold War arena of submarine operations. If I had exchanged emails with my boss on just about anything “official” with my own private server, well just imagine how long it would take for the Naval Investigative Service to be reading me my rights?

    The Secretary of State, at 11 PM (or so) DURING the ongoing attack at Benghazi sends her daughter an email saying it was a terrorist attack. That would have been like me sending my wife an email saying a submarine “accident” was due to …….

    Any and every intelligence agency on Earth would love to know what the SecState is “thinking about”. For four years such “thinking” was exchanged over 55,000 times on an unclassified electronic system, a PRIVATE system completely outside the control of any government oversight..

    But you see security at Benghazi was NOt Hillary’s responsibility. It was the responsibility of HER security organization. Private emails are no one else’s business as well for Hillary despite the fact they reveal information that Putin would love to know about everyday.

    When Hillary becomes President and a “dirty bomb” goes off in America I suppose she will blame DHS and not take the responsibility for her own poor judgment judgment

    I know you cannot stand how Trump “spins” things. Well I can’t stand how Hillary does exactly the same thing. But as well, “why are we arguing about that, NOW??”



    • Anson,

      I was in California for a week and took some time away from this madness.

      I don’t know how many times Hillary Clinton has to say her use of a private server, rather than the government system, was a big mistake that she regrets. Hell, she said last night quite bluntly that there was no excuse for it. In the mean time, there has been no damage done, at least that I have seen or heard about.

      As far as Benghazi, you will never be satisfied with the answers to certain questions. Guess what? That’s because you don’t like the answers. In some ways, I don’t either. And neither did Obama or Clinton herself. There were mistakes all over the place, including by the ambassador himself. Those mistakes have been examined endlessly and corrective action has supposedly been taken. She has been grilled over and over and over again by hostile Republicans in Congress and they haven’t laid a glove on her in terms of direct personal responsibility. Why? Because, Anson, it wasn’t her fault, except that she had the ultimate responsibility as the Secretary of State. Yet you have people on the right, like your friend Caldwell, who essentially suggest she murdered those four people. That is sick shit.

      Finally, I don’t want to argue about how politicians spin things. That is just the nature of the game. But I will argue night and day that what Donald Trump represents, in terms of political danger, isn’t in the same universe as what Hillary Clinton represents. I know you know that deep down inside, or else I have misjudged your apprehension of the intelligence and experience and temperament necessary to manage, as best it can be managed, our colossal diplomatic and national security apparatus.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  August 27, 2016

    The failure in Benghazi, beginning with the bombing of Libya to remove the government, was yet again a failure of the National Command Authority, in this case both strategically(another what do you do when you break it) and tactically (failure to have sufficient security to protect Americans and facilities).

    Our NCA has been a strategic failure for about 35 years now in the “War in the Greater Middle East”. When will we recognize it and fix it? Not in the next four years we won’t, for sure.



    • The Middle East is, and always has been, a fucking mess. Toss in today’s brand of religious zealotry (where Shia and Sunni are bitter enemies, unlike in the distant past) and you have an even more volatile mix. About all we can do is try to keep the nukes out of the equation. To me, that would be an achievement. (Although the recent talk of a possible way to partially resolve the Syrian crisis is a little bit hopeful.)


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