On his way out of office, during the final autumnal days before the 2016 election, President Barack Obama made an appearance that probably ought to be garnering more attention after Thursday’s inspector general’s report on Hillary Clinton’s notorious email server (and the FBI’s desultory investigation into whether classified material was mishandled on it).
In the October just before Americans went to the polls, Obama was speaking before tech industry suzerains in Pittsburgh, where the White House Frontiers Conference was being held. In his speech, he put himself forward as a 21st century president, the kind of guy who was more likely to build his own computer rig and opine on artificial intelligence than have trouble figuring out how to connect to the Wi-Fi network.
“I confess, I am a science geek,” Obama said. “I’m a nerd, and I don’t make any apologies for it. … It’s cool stuff.”
In other words, this was a man who was putting himself forward as tech savvy. He wasn’t just some old dad who didn’t know what was up. This was a man who knew his way around cutting edge things. And, according to him, he had zero idea that Hillary Clinton was using a personal server to handle email, including classified information.
Obama said that he learned about Hillary’s server “at the same time everybody else did, through news reports.” And, as Maury Povich might say, the inspector general’s report determined that was a lie.
“FBI analysts and Prosecutor 2 told us that former President Barack Obama was one of the 13 individuals with whom Clinton had direct contact using her clintonemail.com account,” Thursday’s report revealed. “Obama, like other high level government officials, used a pseudonym for his username on his official government email account.”
This was more or less “known” unofficially for quite some time, but the report was official government recognition that the former president had to have known about Clinton’s private server. Barack Obama, after all, is the consummate geek. Even if you don’t want to drag out minutiae of cybersecurity at the highest levels of government, surely someone in the nation’s highest office realized that clintonemail.com wasn’t a top-level government domain.
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who has settled into a post-governmental career as a pundit, appeared on Fox News to remind everyone how Obama’s statement was “nonsense.”
“Obama’s clearly not telling the truth here,” Bongino said on “Fox & Friends” Saturday.
Check it out here:
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 16, 2018
“Now you sense the frustration of large swaths of America who feel like there’s two justice systems out there,” Bongino said.
This is perhaps the great overarching lesson we’re learning from the IG report. It’s not necessarily about this individual revelation, which has long been suspected. It’s about the difference between the alacrity with which the FBI has pursued a chimerical Trump-Russia connection compared with the purposefully lackadaisical manner in which, as spelled out by the IG report, the bureau pursued Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.
Or, perhaps you can consider the part where FBI agents admitted they hadn’t searched the email devices of Clinton’s inner circle because of “the culture of mishandling classified information at the State Department which made the quantity of potential sources of evidence particularly vast.” In other words, those tasked with finding criminal activity were afraid they would find too many crimes.
And yet, Barack Obama insists he knew nothing about the server even though he was one of the few people mailing it. He insists he didn’t interfere with the Trump-Russia probe even though text messages between Strzok and Page indicate the White House wanted in on the investigation. He is the Col. Klink of presidents: He knew noth-eeeeeng! And the media, bless their hearts, are willing to credulously play along with this.
There aren’t just two justice systems, but two systems for evaluating the lies of presidents. Trump exaggerates a crowd size and there are days worth of discussions that are at once both ponderous and febrile on cable news, yet Barack Obama has lied about his knowledge of Hillary Clinton’s email server — the thing that may well have sabotaged her campaign and probably should have led to charges — and this is glossed over as a non-story. Barack Obama may indeed be a tech geek, but he’s a public relations geek first and foremost.