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Hillary’s email scandal intensifies storm

Hillary Clinton's use of private email addresses as Secretary of State may have violated federal record-keeping laws


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Buzz Cut:
• Hillary’s email scandal intensifies storm
• Jeb looks to ease conservative worries
• Shift in Christian voters helps explain Dems’ Bibi snub
• House may vote on Dems’ Homeland bill today
• Heavy duty robbery

Consider this: When Hillary Clinton made the choice to dodge the rules and exclusively use a private email account for official business as secretary of state, she knew that today would come. But she must have determined that the bad press she would get for being secretive and unaccountable would be worth the advantages of secrecy and control. This is different than her ongoing fundraising controversies. Clinton’s defenders can argue that the presumptive Democratic nominee’s decision to allow her family foundation to take contributions from undesirable foreign governments was the result of Clinton caring too deeply about the sick and impoverished and lacking a foresight about the public backlash. This is very different. The WaPo reports that Clinton apparently made the decision to skirt federal requirements even before her Senate confirmation hearings for the post began. Knowing the turmoil this would cause, Clinton necessarily assumed that the scandal would be worth being able to hide her electronic tracks.

[Politico seeks to explain the series of stumbles by Team Hillary in recent weeks by citing a lack of adequate staffing. Along the way, the piece sheds some light on the warring factions inside the $2 billion enterprise that continues to pit President Obama’s team against Clinton’s core.]

Bad timing - What Clinton could not have foreseen is that the revelation would come at the most damaging moment imaginable. The news comes not only as outrage simmers over her foundation’s sketchy practices but also as Clinton returns to Washington and the political sphere tonight to rally her supporters at EMILY’S List, the pro-choice group that is tasked with waging war on Clinton’s potential opponents on gender issues. The bombshell about secret emails at the State Department also hits on the day the foreign policy she helped craft faces intense scrutiny with the arrival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a last-ditch bid to head off a nuclear deal with Iran. Her public presence on the same day as Netanyahu’s speech was tough enough. A public appearance on the day of the most significant scandal yet surrounding her second presidential run is just a disaster.

[Daily Caller reports that the Department of Justice shut down attempts to search off-site storage facilities for Lois Lerner’s missing emails claiming that opponents shouldn’t have even known these facilities and tapes even existed.]

Cui bono? - Clinton’s team is adamant that their candidate complied with the intent of the law that required the former secretary to conduct business on her government account. Their argument is that by providing copies of the emails to other officials that the government already has Clinton is in the clear. Then why the private account? And what was left out of the document dump the Clinton campaign unloaded on the government? Are there emails about the debacle in Libya? Are there emails to unsavory individuals or groups? And the questions will go on and on. An audacious, premeditated decision to skirt sunlight laws and accountability measures is hardly the thing that Clinton needs at a moment when doubts about her ethics were already mounting.

Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday told a crowd of about 400 people in Las Vegas that he applies conservative values, not just talks about them, as he seriously considers a run for president in 2016. Bush said he’s done something ‘that is kind of unusual in Washington world,’ He’s had the chance to sign the front side of a paycheck and experience how businesses are formed, how jobs are created and how risk-takers, looking to create businesses, are important for the economy. He also talked about his accomplishments in Florida during eight years as governor…”

Jeb mum on donor meetings - AP: “Bush was scheduled to be in Las Vegas through Tuesday afternoon. His team acknowledged he had other private meetings while in Las Vegas - including some focused on raising money - but declined to provide further details. The city is home to several prominent Republican donors, including Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson, who was in Washington on Monday to attend a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bush said he monitored Netanyahu’s speech, which Bush described as ‘classy.’”

[WaPo: “Former Vice President Dan Quayle is set to co-host a fundraiser in Arizona [today] for a super PAC backing Jeb Bush, one of a series of high-dollar events that the former Florida governor is headlining as he mulls a possible presidential bid.]

Prepares to press the flesh in Iowa - Des Moines Register: “Bush, a former Florida governor, will mingle with Iowans at a barbecue restaurant in Waukee and a pizza restaurant in Cedar Rapids, as well as at a fundraiser in Urbandale and a big multi-contender political event in Des Moines, as previously reported…Bush has now scheduled two more events: He will meet privately with Iowa activists, volunteers and GOP campaign veterans on Saturday afternoon at Jethro’s BBQ 'n Jambalaya in Waukee. On Saturday night, he’ll do a public meet-and-greet at the Pizza Ranch at 2450 Westdale Drive SW in Cedar Rapids.”

Noting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s surge in popularity as well as his trip-ups, goateed eminence Jonah Goldberg questions whether the potential 2016 GOP contender’s timing is off:  “In countless discussions I had at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference – as well as among people I’ve talked to who attended the Club for Growth meeting in Florida this weekend — the concern for friends, and the hope for foes, is that Walker is peaking too soon.”

Rand looks to blunt critics on Israel - Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is out with a new video today that includes some tough talk on national defense and his opposition to foreign aid for hostile governments. It is part of an effort to rebut critical coverage of his foreign policy like this piece from Buzzfeed: “‘If you have to give money to Israel, I’m all for people donating and giving money to Israel but we don’t have money for any of those subsidies, it’s gone,’ Paul told blogger Mica Sims in 2010. ‘We have to borrow money from China to give it to other countries. It makes no sense whatsoever from a fiscal standpoint.’”

Cruz auditions for Adelson with tough talk on Iran - National Journal: “The meeting room on Capitol Hill was packed, but for Ted Cruz’s presidential ambitions, one person stood out. At a panel discussion sponsored by pro-Israel group This World: The Values Network on Monday afternoon, the Texas senator aggressively voiced his view that Iran should not gain nuclear capabilities. It was an opportunity for Cruz, an almost-certain presidential contender, to make his case to casino magnate, GOP mega-donor and audience member Sheldon Adelson, whose fundraising decisions are heavily influenced by candidates’ support for the security of Israel, for 2016 support.”

Kasich on hand for Bibi talk - Columbus Dispatch: “Gov. John Kasich, who this month was in the key presidential primary state of South Carolina, will attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech [today] before a joint session of Congress.”

Lindsey raises cash on Bibi speech - WaPo: “If you’re not a member of Congress who plans to be there in person, the place to be is the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP social club where Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is holding a speech-watching luncheon that doubles as a fundraiser for his new political committee. ”

Perry finds a PAC man - NYT: “Rick Perry … is moving to establish a “super PAC” to back his effort, and has turned to Austin Barbour, a Mississippi-based lobbyist and political operative to head it, according to three people with knowledge of the moves..”

Carson makes it official - WSJ: “Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has formally created an exploratory committee to run for president, his campaign chief executive, Terry Giles, said Monday. …With the exploratory committee, Mr. Carson can raise money that he can transfer to his campaign once it begins.”

“If the party cannot get together quickly behind one candidate it will be another long eight years with Hillary and Bill to stomach. Scott Walker is the closest to fitting the bill with either [Marco Rubio] or [Carly Fiorina] as the VP running mate.” --Bill Norwood, Ozark, Mo.

“I was a [Chris Christie] fan, but have lost interest. Not one of the other candidates, including Jeb, is acerbic enough to duke it out with Hillary’s smarmy cadre of millennial ‘talking pointers.’ Rand Paul has the venom, but he cannot win. Count me as thumbs up to [Gov. Scott Walker] and [Carly Fiorina]!!” --Brooke Samuelson, Windsor, Conn.

This day in 1845 marks the first time Congress used the Constitutional provision allowing Congressional veto overrides. It was an attempt to rein in President John Tyler’s eager use of presidential veto power. Two weeks prior, Tyler had vetoed a bill that would have denied him the ability to provide funds for cutter ships without Congressional approval. Congress insisted on legislative approval before the commissioning of any new military craft. Tyler’s use of the veto, at 10 times, was only second only to President Andrew Jackson who used it 12 times during his administration.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 45 percent//Disapprove – 50.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 32.2 percent//Wrong Track – 59.2 percent

There was a time that the idea of nearly 60 Democrats boycotting a speech to Congress by the prime minister of Israel would have been unimaginable. Democrats were the staunchest supporters of the creation and defense of the Jewish state. Republicans were once lukewarm. Now, Democrats increasingly side against Israel, while Republicans are nearly unanimous in support. So how did we get here? Part of it is pique. Some of the speech snubbers are Obama loyalists angry at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’sattempt to scuttle President Obama’s pending nuclear deal with Iran. And as John Judis observed, part of it is rooted in political shifts in Israel and the U.S. and resultant changes in lobbying efforts and gamesmanship on both sides. But that still doesn’t fully explain why so many Democrats would risk a backlash from Jewish voters and supporters, who are overwhelmingly Democratic. The answer lies not with the politics of Jewish Americans, but those of Christians.

[WaPo: “In November 1945, [President Harry Truman] offered this riposte to American diplomats cautioning him against embracing the cause of Zionism: ‘I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.’”]

Sort it out - As Christians have migrated in increasing numbers to the Republican Party and non-believers have aligned themselves mostly with Democrats, the political pressure points have changed. Social issues, particularly Democratic support for access to elective abortions, have been a major part of this sorting. And like other trends in partisanship, it has been self-perpetuating and self-intensifying. As Christians became more Republican, the Republican Party increasingly reflected their values. Those values, especially among the growing number of evangelical Protestants, include a belief that their faith is an outgrowth of Judaism and in the promise of a land set apart for the people to whom their God first chose to reveal himself. As Democrats become less Christian and Republicans become more Christian, expect the partisan prism on Israel so astonishingly displayed today to become commonplace.

[In the latest Gallup poll, 45 percent of Americans view the Israeli leader favorably, up 10 points since 2012 and tying the highest rating recorded by Gallup over Netanyahu’s tenures.]

“America’s bond with Israel is stronger than the politics of the moment…This is an important message at an important time and the Prime Minister is the perfect person to deliver it.” –Speaker John Boehner says in a new video previewing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress.

Bulldog - WashEx: “…Boehner …. said he will give Israel's leader a bust of [Winston Churchill] to note that only those two foreign leaders have ever addressed Congress three times.”

[The Boston Globe reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will be among those giving Netanyahu the cold shoulder.]

National Journal: “House GOP leaders plan to allow a vote as early as [today] on a clean bill to fund the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the fiscal year, according to Republican sources, dashing the hopes of conservatives who want to tie the money to language clocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Leaders detailed their plan at a closed-door GOP conference meeting [this morning]…According to a source in the room, Speaker John Boehner told members the House would vote on the Senate’s DHS funding bill once it receives papers confirming that the other chamber would not go to conference on the bill…. ‘[T]he House has done its job by passing legislation to fund DHS and block the president’s executive actions on immigration,’ Boehner said, according to the source. ‘Unfortunately, the fight was never won in the other chamber.”

“I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president.  … I believe this decision – considering where we are – is the right one for this team, and the right one for this country. The good news is that the president’s executive action has been stopped, for now.  This matter will continue to be litigated in the courts, where we have our best chance of winning this fight.” –Speaker John Boehner at a House GOP conference this morning.

Paul Ryan
, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, along with Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. and Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., add another layer to the GOP plan to cover ObamaCare beneficiaries if Supreme Court justices opt to blow up the law. The budget hawks proposal comes in a WSJ op-ed and meshes with other proposals floated by Senate Republicans in recent days.

[Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream previews the ObamaCare Supreme Court arguments set for Wednesday and the media campaign around Chief Justice John Roberts.]

NHjournal: “Following up its radio ad buy announced last week, the conservative issues group Crossroads GPS [today] will launch a $50,000 digital ad buy again criticizing Gov. Maggie Hassan [D-N.H.,] for a proposed budget it says includes ‘more spending, higher taxes, and no real innovation.’ Crossroads last week became the second out-of-state group to attack Hassan, who is viewed as a possible contender for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, [R-N.H.]…. The new digital ad will be seen on Facebook, Twitter and search engine web sites, Crossroads said. Its script is similar to the radio ad, charging Hassan proposed a tax that ‘would hit lower income people hardest’ and ‘sizeable increases in business taxes.’”

From Politico’s interview with departing White House communications boss Dan Pfeiffer: “[O]ne of the coolest things out there right now ... is what Snapchat is doing with ESPN, CNN, Vice and some others through their Discover function.”

From the bizarre crime files, WFTX reports that the Collier County Sheriff’s department is trying to solve a hefty theft in Monterey, a gated community in North Naples, Fla. The thief somehow made off with 183 boxes filled with rolled nickels worth over $18,000 from a house party on February 15. At almost a half-pound per $2 roll, that would be nearly two tons of 5-cent pieces.

“Nobody is asking for America to go to war. What the Israelis are asking, what a lot of Americans are asking – including the majority of Republicans – is real sanctions and to give the Israelis the green light to defend themselves. They have never asked for Americans to go to war on their behalf and they are not asking that today.”—Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.