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The Rushmore Report: Hillary Clinton’s Surprise Phone Call on Election Night

Election night 2016 was full of surprises. I remember the election party I attended with about 20 old friends in Houston. We all expected a Hillary Clinton win, as that was what the polls and pundits had suggested. When returns started coming in, it soon became clear that a political tsunami was in the works. A few hours later, the race was called for Donald Trump. Then Hillary Clinton made a phone call nobody knew about – until now.

A new book has just been released: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. It chronicles the details of Mrs. Clinton’s most difficult night. First, she called Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory. But she did not do this willingly. President Obama had called to urge her to concede, following a string of close losses in battleground states. When she did not respond immediately, Obama called John Podesta, her campaign chairman, to ask him to push Hillary to concede. Obama was clearly irritated that Mrs. Clinton had ignored several previous messages from his White House Staff to throw in the towel. She would not publicly concede until the next morning.

But it was the “other” phone call that is most interesting. After calling Mr. Trump, Clinton made her most difficult call. She called President Obama. When the president got on the phone, she spoke four most painful words – “Mr. President, I’m sorry.”

With those four words, Hillary Clinton said it all. Her staff has confirmed the call and its content. Her very brief call to Mr. Obama boiled down to this simple message. “Mr. President, the legacy of your presidency was on the line tonight, and I failed. I lost a most winnable election, and this will alter the course of history, foreign policy, domestic policy, and the Supreme Court. For that, Mr. President, I am deeply sorry.”

Say what you want about Mrs. Clinton. Whether you supported her or not, those four words – “Mr. President, I’m sorry” – say a lot about human dreams, aspirations, and disappointments.

We all have been where Mrs. Clinton sat that night – in need of making amends, offering an apology, and facing our own personal failures. The good news is, the sun still comes up the next day, God still has a plan for our lives, and we can be stronger because of our failures.

Losing is not the problem. Failure to learn from losing is.

The Rushmore Report: What Will Hillary Do Next?

It has been three weeks since Hillary Clinton conceded the U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump – and what a three weeks it has been. Hillary supporters are beginning to recover from the shocking defeat, taking to the streets to protest and, as Lena Dunham said, organizing, rather than agonizing. But what of Hillary herself? After the Wisconsin recount, what will Hillary do next?

Clinton gave a speech at the annual Children’s Defense Fund gala, a commitment she’d agreed to before the election. In all likelihood, she imagined giving the speech as the newly elected president, glass ceiling shatterer, the person to give the U.S. its first female president. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Hillary spoke candidly about not wanting to leave the house, about curling up with a good book and her dogs. “Coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing,” she told the gala’s guests.

It’s still early, so we can forgive Hillary for retreating in an attempt to recover from the raw wounds inflicted by the election campaign and result. That said, many are now wondering what she will choose to do next.

In an interview with Zach Galifianakis in September, Hillary told the host that if she lost the election, she’d stay in the U.S. to try to prevent Donald Trump from ruining the country. Whether she does this inside politics is yet to be seen. She remains a figure of respect among Democrats, but may feel that she can do more from outside the world of politics.

The Clinton Foundation could be where Hillary decides to focus her efforts. Set up in 1997, the foundation has many charitable focuses and might be a fitting place for Hillary to focus her energies once she feels able. It might also be that she takes on a campaigning or consultation role in another charity or human rights organization, focusing her efforts on protecting areas she cares about, like women’s rights or disadvantaged children.

Another autobiography could be in the cards, too – Hillary published Living History in 2004, It Takes a Village in 2007, and Hard Choices in 2015. Needless to say, plenty has happened since then, and there’s more than enough material for a fourth book. We predict a bidding war like no other when it comes.

Like most towering political figures that came before her, Hillary may increase her presence on the corporate speech circuit, raking in millions of dollars. Trump attacked here during the election campaign for being paid $200,000 an hour to speak to Goldman Sachs execs (the hypocrisy knows no bounds) and this may be an avenue she chooses to pursue.

“Whisper it” in 2020. Hillary could run for President again. She will be 73, which means that if she were to win, she would be the oldest person ever elected to a first term. Unlikely, but not beyond the realm of possibility. It remains to be seen whether she’d be able to secure the Democrats’ nomination, though.

But no one could blame Hillary for retreating from the public eye altogether – she has made no secret of her love for her family: husband Bill, daughter Chelsea, son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky, and grandchildren Charlotte and Aidan. Perhaps she’ll indulge in being a grandmother, helping to raise her grandchildren in an ever more fearful world.

Whatever Hillary chooses to do, I hope history will remember her as an incredible Secretary of State, the first woman to win the popular vote in a U.S. election, and as a woman who fought for society’s most vulnerable. Or, maybe, just maybe, come 2020, the oldest person elected to a first term as U.S. president. As the past three weeks have shown, anything is possible.

About the Author

Cyan Turan is a featured writer for Hearst Magazine in the United Kingdom. She also writes for numerous newspapers and websites and is in the process of publishing her first book.

The Rushmore Report: Eight Reasons Trump Won

Few thought he’d run, but he did. Few thought he’d do well, but he did. Few thought he’d win the nomination, but he did. And fewer thought he’d get elected – but he did. With his commanding Electoral College win, Donald Trump has turned the political world upside down. And looking back, we should have seen this coming. There are eight reasons Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States.

1. Ultimate Outsider

He ran against the Democrats. He ran against his own party. He ran against the establishment. And each time, he won. Trump distanced himself from Speaker Paul Ryan. He insulted former president George W. Bush. He ridiculed the likes of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. This was pure genious. America wanted an outsider – someone with zero ties to the establishment. Donald Trump was that man.

2. The White Wave

While the media was tracking the gender gap and criticizing Trump’s criticizing of Hispanics, he was wise as a serpent. Trump didn’t win because he brought minorities or women over to his side. He played to the working class white guy from Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania who is hurting. Mr. Trump went all in for the disaffected white voter, and it won him the White House.

3. Kellyanne Conway

The smartest decision Trump made saved him the election. By hiring veteran Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway, he found the one person able to keep him on message. For the last three months, Conway was on CNN more than Wolf Blitzer. And she presented a calm, measured, reassuring persona. Whatever he paid her – it wasn’t enough.

4. Teflon Man

Trump insulted war hero John McCain. He mocked Fox News broadcaster Megyn Kelly. He ridiculed a Hispanic beauty pageant winner. He blasted a Muslim patriot. He said insane things, almost daily. But through it all, Trump remained bulletproof. His gaffes never mattered as much as his outsider credentials.

5. The Comey Factor

It didn’t matter that the FBI Director condemned Clinton, then let her off the hook, only to repeat the cycle in the closing days of the election. James Comey did what even Donald Trump could not do – he kept Clinton’s email debacle on the front pages of the newspapers for months. That served to remind voters that in Clinton they would have a controversy-riddled president.

6. Trusted His Instincts

Trump ran the most unconventional of all political campaigns. But it turned out he knew more than the “experts.” He spent more on “Make America Great Again” caps than on pollsters. He hung out in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that pundits said he could not win. His was a chaotic campaign. Trump trusted his natural instincts – and won.

7. Accessible to the Press

Hillary Clinton ignored the press for up to a year at a time. Reporters couldn’t find her with a search warrant. She appeared to be in the witness protection program. Add your own analogy. Trump, on the other hand, did five appearances a day and could be seen on every station but The Weather Channel – almost on a daily basis. He was outspent 3-to-1. But it didn’t matter. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC interviews come for free.

8. Democrats’ Flawed Candidate

Some said Trump was the only candidate Clinton could have possibly beaten. It turned out that Clinton was the only candidate Trump could beat. She was a deeply flawed candidate, rife with controversy, cover-ups, and misstatements. But in a room full of midgets, the 5-foot man is a giant. In the end, Trump emerged that giant.

The Rushmore Report: Who Does Hillary Find More Deplorable – Jihadists or Trump Supporters?

Who does Hillary Clinton find more deplorable – the Islamic radicals or Donald Trump supporters? I read a transcript of her remarks on September 19 in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey – and to be honest – it’s hard to tell. In Clinton’s world, only one group is considered “deplorable” and “unredeemable” – those who would vote for Donald Trump.

In her strongest words against the terrorists, she said, “We will defend our country and we will defeat the evil, twisted ideology of the terrorists.” Notice that she condemned the ideology of the Muslim bad guys – but she did not actually condemn the bad guys.

As a matter of fact, she carefully suggested that we not make any generalizations regarding Muslim-Americans. “There are millions of law-abiding peaceful Muslim-Americans,” she said.

Heaven forbid anyone would make gross generalizations in the aftermath of yet more terrorist attacks committed in the name of Allah.

Although just last week, Mrs. Clinton made some gross generalizations about Donald Trump and his supporters. “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” she told a bunch of supporters at a LGBT fundraiser. “Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it.”

Clinton went on to call all of us deplorables “irredeemable” and “not American.” But on September 19, she chided us – urging us to refrain from hateful rhetoric.

“Let’s not get diverted and distracted by the kind of campaign rhetoric we hear coming from the other side” she said.

Well, ma’am – that train has already left the station.

Instead of condemning the Islamic radicals, she attacked Mr. Trump – accusing him of aiding and abetting the Islamists. “We know that Donald Trump’s comments have been used online for recruitment of terrorists,” she said. Mrs. Clinton went on to say “the kind of rhetoric and language that Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries.”

She accused the Republican nominee for president of treason – treason!

And yet there was not a disparaging word about the real jihadists – the ones who tried to blow us to kingdom come. There was not a peep about the one who stabbed 10 Americans in Minnesota.

So who does Hillary Clinton find more revolting – Islamic Radicals or American Deplorables?

About the Author

Todd Starnes is an American conservative columnist and commentator for television and radio. He has appeared regularly on such television series as Fox and Friends and Hannity.

The Rushmore Report: Hillary’s Pneumonia May Be Symptom of Bigger Problem

Sunday, Hillary Clinton collapsed into her waiting car as she was ushered away from a September 11 memorial service in New York. Against protocol, she insisted on going to her daughter Chelsea’s apartment instead of a hospital. Eventually, her condition was identified as pneumonia. But this may just be the symptom of a much bigger problem.

The bigger issue is the secretive manner in which Clinton’s campaign managed the incident. It is an approach that is sure to prove counterproductive, as it would have been better for her team to address her condition immediately. A lack of information always makes journalists wonder whether something more serious is being kept hidden.

In the course of a week, we were told Clinton just had a cough. Then they said it was allergies. Next, we heard “heat stroke.” Still others said she was dehydrated.

The real diagnosis: secrecy.

From the 15,000 hidden, then deleted, emails to Clinton’s whereabouts the night of Benghazi to the private server stuffed away in a basement in Colorado to her 31 moments of “I can’t remember” while testifying before the FBI to the hidden transcripts of her dozens of speeches for $250,000 each to Wall Street companies, to the three employees under her in the State Department who pleaded the 5th Amendment rather than saying what they knew – one incurable disease keeps raising its ugly head.

Secrecy.

Pneumonia can be a horrible illness. But in this case, it may be just a symptom of a bigger problem. Team Clinton couldn’t bring themselves to tell the simple truth – she was sick. This maddening aversion to truth-telling is the real sickness. And if Clinton’s 40 years in the public eye tell us anything, they tell us that her real sickness – secrecy – may have no cure.

About the Author

Callum Borchers is a regular contributor to The Washington Post. A proud graduate of Ithaca College, Borchers has also written for The Boston Globe. He addresses the intersection of politics and media.

The Rushmore Report: FBI Interview Catches Clinton in Multiple Lies

The FBI just released notes from its July 2 interview with Hillary Clinton about her use of a private, unsecured email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. Days after the interview, FBI Director James Coney cited Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information. Now, with the release of their redacted papers, the FBI has confirmed several stunning lies told by the would-be president.

1. Clinton said she had turned over all of her work-related emails.

The Democratic nominee said, repeatedly, that she had given the FBI “all of my work-related emails.” But the FBI report stated they found 17,448 emails that she had failed to turn over to the Inspector General. And this doesn’t include the 30,000 emails she had already deleted, in such a way that “God couldn’t find them” (Trey Gowdy).

2. Clinton said she wanted the public to see her email.

In March of 2015, the New York Times broke the story of Clinton’s private email server. Hillary said, “I want the public to see my emails.” Three weeks later, they were deleted.

3. Clinton said she didn’t know what the “C” meant on the classified emails.

Amazingly, Clinton said she thought the marking meant “Confidential” or that they were marked in alphabetical order. This is ludicrous on two levels. First, no one seriously believes Clinton thought the “C” meant anything but “Classified,” and if she did think that, it certainly didn’t make its way into any of her prior explanations. Second, Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement acknowledging that it was her responsibility to ascertain whether documents contained sensitive information. She also acknowledged the criminal penalties she would face if she disclosed government secrets. So there are only two explanations: ignorance or dishonesty.

4. Clinton claimed memory loss 31 times.

When asked about the memo she had sent to all employees of her own State Department, warning against the use of a private email server, she said she didn’t remember sending that memo. Claiming short-term memory loss, she said “I don’t remember” in answer to 31 – yes, 31- different questions from the FBI.

5. Clinton said she had one device – when she had 13.

Claiming “convenience” as the reason she used just “one device,” she now has no explanation for the 13 the FBI report has proved she used. Of course, she needs no explanation, as she doesn’t take questions from the press.

 

The Rushmore Report: Colin Powell Refutes Hillary’s Email Claims

The New York Times’ Amy Chozick had a great scoop regarding Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was Secretary of State. Here’s the crux: “Pressed by the FBI about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had advised her to use a personal email account. Mrs. Clinton is claiming she is only doing what Powell did.” One problem – Powell says she’s making the whole thing up.

Clinton told the FBI that Powell advised her to use a private email account since he had done so while in the same job. Therefore, Clinton’s assertion that she was simply following the accepted practices of previous secretaries of state is entirely proven out. Done and done!

Um, not really. Let me count the ways in which the Clinton email set-up does not equal the Powell email set-up:

1. Clinton exclusively used a private email account to conduct State Department business. Powell did not.

2. Clinton had a private email server, located in her basement. Powell did not.

3. The rules governing electronic communication changed considerably – and got more strict – between Powell’s time in office and Clinton’s. This is from the Fact Checker:

After Powell left office in 2015, and through 2011, the State Department’s guidance for private email use was “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated.”

In 2002, there was a new requirement for email users to “determine the significance and value of information created on email systems and determine the need to preserve those messages that qualify as records. Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”

Those rule changes – as well as technological advancements made between 2005 and 2011 – were at the center of Powell’s shade-throwing statement in response to the “Well, Colin did it” argument made by Clinton to the FBI.

The attempt to – again – equate what Powell did with what Clinton did is yet more evidence that either the candidate, her senior advisers, or both simply don’t get it. No, Clinton wasn’t indicted by the Justice Department for her email set-up. But she was badly reprimanded by FBI Director James Comey for her email practices: it was an unequivocal condemnation of her conduct in relation to her approach to electronic communications while serving as the country’s top diplomat.

General Powell said, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using the private email server for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”

For whatever reason – and despite the fact that Clinton has said on several occasions that she knows she made a mistake – she seems incapable of accepting that responsibility and moving on. No secretary of state – up to and including Colin Powell – handled their email set-up like Clinton. That’s a fact.

About the Author

Chris Cillizza is an American political commentator, online writer, and author. Cillizza writes at The Fix, a daily political weblog for the Washington Post.

The Rushmore Report: State Department Lands Clinton in Trouble

The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that she failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that department staff would not have given its blessing because of the “security risks in doing so.”

The inspector general, in a long awaited review released Wednesday, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure federal record laws are followed.

The report says she should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Instead, Clinton provided those records in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office.

The report found that a top Clinton aide was warned in 2010 that the system may not properly preserve records, but he dismissed those worries, indicating that the system had passed legal muster. But the inspector general said it could not show evidence of a review by legal counsel.

The 83-page report reviews email practices by five secretaries of state and generally concludes that record keeping has been spotty for years.

It was particularly critical of former Secretary of State Colin Powell – who has acknowledged publicly that he used his personal laptop to write emails – concluding that he too failed to follow department policy designed to comply with public-record laws.

The timing of the report is inconvenient for Clinton, who now faces an intense onslaught of attacks from presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But its release – as well as the conclusion of an ongoing FBI investigation – have also been seen for months by her allies as a key milestone to finally putting the email issue to rest. The inspector general has rejected allegations of bias, noting that the scope of the review encompasses secretaries of state from both political parties and that it was undertaken at the direction of Clinton’s Democratic successor, John Kerry. The report includes interviews with Kerry and Powell and former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, but it says Clinton declined to be interviewed.

Mrs. Clinton has not explained how she intended emails sent to private citizens, who did not use government email, to be preserved. Some emails have emerged, particularly from Clinton’s first months in office in 2009 when her aides have said she was transitioning technology.

In December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office, she turned over more than 30,000 emails she said represented all of her work related correspondence. She said she also exchanged about 31,000 personal emails during her time as secretary and those notes have been deleted.

About the Author

Rosalind Helderman is a reporter for the Washington Post. She has covered the Clinton email story for several months.

The Rushmore Report: Hillary’s Faith – In Her Own Words

In a recent town hall meeting, a high school guidance counselor asked Hillary Clinton to explain her faith. Mrs. Clinton took the opportunity to share her views on Christianity and the Bible. These were her words.

Thank you for asking that. I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it.

The idea you heard on the radio of looking at individuals, I think, is absolutely fair. My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. But I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith, and I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on. Those are really hard things for human beings to do, and there is a lot, certainly in the New Testament, that calls us to do that.

The famous discussion on the Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to. There’s a lot of great Bible studies: What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favor the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don’t have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognizes as being at the core of love and salvation.

So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh.

So, I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should? And that starts in small ways and goes out in very large ones, but it’s something that I take very seriously. So thank you for asking.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of Hillary Clinton

As she has embarked on a second campaign for President, Hillary Rodham Clinton is facing the same scrutiny as during the 2008 campaign. Of interest to us is her personal faith story. Mrs. Clinton once told The New York Times, “My faith has always been very personal to me.” In 2007, she told the 2007 CNN Faith Forum, “Advertising my faith doesn’t come naturally to me.” As such, she has been reluctant to speak out about her faith in a public way. But those who have known the 67-year-old former Senator and Secretary of State say her faith is genuine. We know five things about the faith of Hillary Clinton.

1. Hillary Clinton is a life-long Methodist. Raised in the First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge (Chicago), she was active in her youth group, often visiting inner-city Chicago churches with her youth pastor and spiritual mentor, Don Jones. During her husband’s presidency, they attended Washington’s Foundry United Methodist Church. Time Magazine described her membership in a bipartisan women’s prayer group as “active.”

2. Mrs. Clinton has been known to carry a Bible in her purse. Advisers say she often opens the Scriptures for quiet strength in trying times, though this is a very private practice for her. “I have tried through my works to demonstrate a level of commitment and compassion that flow from my faith,” she has said.

3. Prayer plays a significant role in Clinton’s life. She joked at the Faith Forum that her daily prayer is, “Oh, Lord, why can’t you help me lose weight?” Then pivoting to a more serious tone, she spoke of her habit of praying “for discernment, wisdom, strength, and courage.” She sees prayer as “a deep connection between us and the divine.”

4. Clinton decries those who criticize the importance of faith. During the 2008 election, then-Senator Barack Obama said hard-pressed Americans were bitter and “clung to their guns and religion.” At the CNN Compassion Forum, Clinton said the Democratic Party “has been viewed as a party that didn’t understand the values of so many Americans.” She continued, “It’s important that we make clear that we believe people are people of faith because it is part of their whole being. It is what gives them meaning of life.”

5. For Mrs. Clinton, faith calls us to action. Last April, she addressed the United Methodist Women Assembly on the subject of faith. She said her faith had guided her to be “an advocate for children and families, for women and men around the world who are oppressed and persecuted, denied their human rights and human dignity.”

Two personal events point to a strong faith for Hillary Clinton. On election night of 1992, President George H. W. Bush called Bill Clinton to concede. Hillary recalled, in Living History, that “Bill and I went into our bedroom, closed the door, and prayed together for God’s help as he took on this awesome honor and responsibility.” And then there was the night Mrs. Clinton shared a private moment with Rev. Billy Graham, on the heels of her crisis stemming from her husband’s infidelity. At the dedication of the Bush Presidential Library, she pulled Graham aside, seeking his counsel. Graham recalled, in The Preacher and the Presidents, that Hillary “is different from the Hillary you see in the media. There is a warm side to her – and a spiritual one.”

None of this is to endorse Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy or policy positions. But I take her at her word when she says, “You have a faith center out of which the rest flows.” Barna Research estimates that United Methodists make up about six percent of our population, with the number slowly declining. But credit Mrs. Clinton for remaining true to her church through the years. In his book, God and Hillary Clinton, Paul Kengor says she seeks to live by the Wesleyan mantra, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” For Mrs. Clinton, her faith is real. From her faith she seeks guidance and serenity. Though hesitant to speak about her faith in the public square, for Hillary Clinton, her faith is genuine and real.