Every Monday, Fox News contributor Karl Rove wraps up the last week in politics and offers an inside look at the week ahead.
She Lied: Hillary Clinton had a very bad week as the State Department Inspector General’s report on her private email server show she lied in oh so many ways.
She lied when she said “her email practices” were “consistent” with previous Secretaries of State and not “unique.” She was the only secretary with a private server and the only one who refused to conduct official business on State Department-provided equipment and network.
She lied when she said her private email server was permitted. The I.G. said she didn’t ask any State Department lawyers if it was allowed and would have been told it wasn’t if she had.
She lied when she said everyone knew it and her private server was never breached. The I.G. revealed staff members who raised concerns about the server were told to shut up and the server was shut down at least several times because of hacking attempts.
She lied when she said she turned over all official emails on her server. The I.G. drew on emails from and to Bryan Pagliano, the State Department staffer, who set up and managed the email system which Clinton had not turned over to the government (and which were apparently recovered from his computer).
She lied when she promised cooperation and transparency. She was the only former Secretary of State who turned down the I.G.’s requests for information and neither she nor her top aides cooperated with the I.G.
This scandal will dog her even if the FBI doesn’t recommend indictments. But after the scathing report from an Obama appointee, it’s hard to see how someone isn’t held responsible for Team Clinton’s reckless negligence in handling classified information.
That Wasn’t All Her Bad Week: A new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll for that state’s June 7 primary showed Ms. Clinton two points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, 46 percent to 44 percent, though the Real Clear Politics average still has her up eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent. In a sign it might be an outlier, the PPIC poll had her behind among Blacks and Asian Americans by 42 percent to 50 percent and ahead among women by only seven points.
Meanwhile, talk escalated about replacing Clinton ally Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chairman for perceived slights to the Sanders camp. Sanders supporters also obtained permits to demonstrate across the street from the Philadelphia convention hall in a park that can hold 30,000 people.
The Vermont Senator was also rewarded with five of 15 slots on the platform drafting committee and promptly named a bunch of left-wing provocateurs. The Clinton camp received six with the remaining four to be named by Ms. Wasserman Schultz who as DNC chairman would traditionally have selected all 15. “Satisfy our demands, “ 1960s radical Jerry Rubin would say, “and we’ve got twelve more. The more demands you satisfy, the more we got.” Expect the Sandernistas to make more demands.
Trump’s Good, but Then So-So Week: The New York businessman hit what he once derisively called a “magic number,” namely the 1,237 delegate majority needed to clinch the GOP nomination for president and he gave a second substantive policy speech, this one on energy, delivered at a North Dakota oil and gas conference with the help of a TelePrompter.
But this was not as good a week as it could have been for the GOP’s presumptive nominee. First, his comments on the I.G.’s report were short and while he offered lots of adjectives (“devastating,” “bad judgment,” “very harsh,” “shocking”), this was his moment to raise serious doubts about Secretary Clinton’s temperament by highlighting the ways in which she lied to the American people and put national security at risk.
Then Trump attacked New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for not yet endorsing him. He launched his assault at an Albuquerque rally and repeated it, along with slaps on 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, at events in California.
What did this gain? It diverted attention from the Clinton email story. And Trump is now the nominee; he should exude confidence, not punch down.
Team Trump also suffered bad press this week over internecine battles among members of the campaign team. One casualty of the in-fighting was its political director, charged with the nearly impossible task of building a real structure in all of the campaign’s targeted states -- which the candidate improbably suggested included California and New York -- where he lags behing Ms. Clinton today by 17 and 22 points, respectively.
Looking Ahead, Relief For Clinton: Expect some in the mainstream media to downplay the email scandal as less than the mortal threat to Ms. Clinton that it is, though some prominent press voices have already acknowledged it is a major problem for her.
The California primary will also heat up as Sanders tries to embarrass the Democratic frontrunner in that party’s biggest delegate pool. But this matters little: she’s only 78 delegates from the nomination with 950 yet to be selected.
For Trump, the question is if he makes progress this week on his campaign’s “MOM” problem – Message, Organization and Money. Running a general election is different than a primary. What worked in the primary – attacking each of his many opponent with a well-chosen nickname, relying almost exclusively on rallies and largely ignoring organization, and self-funding – won’t necessarily work in a general election. Now Trump needs need more substantive attacks on two targets (Ms. Clinton and President Obama), a real grassroots effort to identify and persuade swing voters, and a money-raising effort to match the Clinton machine, especially as her super PAC offers a new wave of attacks on his business record and fitness for the Oval Office.
Karl Rove joined Fox News Channel as a political contributor in February 2008. He also currently serves as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads. His latest book is "The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters" (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @KarlRove.