Washington – When Hillary Clinton was running for president, her campaign wanted to talk about her criminal investigation in a softer way. private mail serverso they called it a “security review”.
Now, President Joe Biden’s team uses similar language when talking about the discovery of classified documents in the United States. his Delaware home When Former office. White House press secretary Carine Jean-Pierre tends to describe the situation as an “investigation” or “legal proceeding”, and uses the term “investigation” much less frequently.
The White House and campaigns tend to choose their words carefully, but never more so than when they are under the watch of prosecutors. Needless to say, it’s a rhetorical dance that weighs the political imperative of conducting investigations in the most ominous light against demands for full disclosure.
“We have to balance the media and political concerns of protecting the president by being transparent with the legal concerns of not knowing everything and not saying it.” -President Bill Clinton faced an investigation from independent attorney Ken Starr.
White House attorney’s office spokesperson Ian Sams acknowledged the tug-of-war when speaking to reporters off-camera this week — he hesitated to use the word “investigation” repeatedly. did not.
“We understand that there is a tension between protecting and safeguarding the integrity of ongoing investigations and providing the public with adequate information to do so,” he said. .
Biden’s team faces criticism its fragmentary disclosure There were occasional heated exchanges between reporters and Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room about the discovery of classified documents.
She ran into trouble when she suggested that all the documents had been recovered last Friday. additional discoveries Published on weekends.
“Are you upset that I came on this podium on Friday with incomplete and inaccurate information?” one reporter asked Jean-Pierre on Tuesday. “And are you worried that it will affect your credibility here?”
Jean-Pierre said, “My concern is to keep the Department of Justice from meddling politically,” describing the situation as “an ongoing process.”
Early in the briefing, Jean-Pierre said he was trying to be “discreet” about the information he shared.
“Let the ongoing review, ongoing legal proceedings, and let the proceedings continue with the special counsel,” she said.
There is a long history of government distractions about ongoing investigations. Scott McClellan, who represented the White House for President George W. Bush, and Mike McCurry, who did the same for President Bill Clinton, have frequently been elsewhere rather than offering their own commentary. I posed a question.
Davis also said he didn’t blame the White House for favoring some words over others.
“You use the word ‘review’ instead of ‘survey.’ I’ve done it hundreds of times for clients,” he said. Do you not use words? Because it hurts more. Using softer words is an understandable choice.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation, a decision that could cast a shadow over the White House as Biden prepares for a potential re-election campaign. There is
The president’s attorney, Richard Sauber, did not use the word “investigation” in his written statement about the incident, but emphasized the White House’s willingness to cooperate with the Justice Department. said on Thursday: “We are confident that a thorough investigation will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his attorneys acted immediately upon discovering the mistake.
There is no one strategy for how to talk about a criminal investigation that reaches the White House or touches one of its applicants.
For example, former President Donald Trump swearing at the FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller repeatedly derided the 2016 campaign as a “witch hunt” when investigating whether it coordinated with Russia and was led by “angry Democrats.” erroneously claimed. Bill Clinton’s personal attorney, David Kendall, accused Starr of leaking and “overdoing it” during the 1999 House impeachment inquiry.
In some cases, the White House has disclosed or confirmed information about ongoing criminal investigations, which defense attorneys in low-profile investigations may be reluctant to do. That happened when President Bush admitted to being interviewed by investigators as part of a special counsel investigation into the leak of the secret identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame a year ago.
“The leak of classified information is a very serious problem,” McClellan, then-White House press secretary, said.
When it comes to handling legal matters involving the White House, it’s “a little more intense. That concern is a little broader than businesses. That adds another level of concern,” senior Bush administration official I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was found guilty of lying to investigators and obstructing justice in the Primeleak investigation.
Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI for using a private email server as Secretary of State in 2015. Campaigning about her investigation She and campaigners who were plagued by questions on her trail called it a “security review” or “security investigation.” This branding, which appears to be an attempt to minimize criminal investigations, received mild criticism from her then-FBI Director James Comey in 2016. who said they were unfamiliar with the term.
“I don’t know what that means,” Comey told reporters when asked about the “security investigation” language. “We’re investigating. That’s the Bureau’s job. That’s our job. That’s probably all I can say about it.”
In the Biden case, the White House has revealed that the president’s attorneys found several documents marked classified in a locked closet at the Penn-Biden Center in Washington. Authorities did not reveal more documents had been found until days later. This time it was found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Jean-Pierre rejected suggestions that the White House lacked transparency. She was not informed to the public, but she said the Department of Justice and the National Archives were notified.
“I want to say that we’re being transparent here,” she said last week.
Sams told reporters that the White House releases information it deems “appropriate,” and that it seeks to strike a balance between transparency and respect for the Justice Department’s work. said they were trying to be mindful of the “risks” of sharing incomplete information.
It’s unclear if anyone could face criminal charges or if prosecutors could prove someone intentionally broke the law. This is a high legal standard. Biden said he was surprised to find the documents. In any case, the Justice Department has long argued that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Anyway, the survey, or questions about reviews or legal proceedings, aren’t going away any time soon.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2023/01/19/investigation-nope-review-white-house-describes-probe/ “Research”?No, ‘review’: White House explains investigation