The State Department is facing new scrutiny in the aftermath of its inability this week to name an accomplishment of a major initiative under former Secretary State Hillary Clinton, an embarrassing episode that overshadowed the release of the title of her new book, “Hard Choices.”
The Republican group America Rising PAC filed a Freedom of Information Act request that suggests that after State Spokeswoman Jen Psaki couldn't offer an accomplishment during a press briefing, Clinton's political allies helped develop talking points to use the following day when she listed several accomplishments.
In its request, America Rising is seeking evidence of any communication with Psaki and:
— Any member of Clinton’s personal staff.
— Any staff member of American Bridge PAC, a Democratic opposition research group.
— Any staff member of Priorities USA PAC, run by Clinton allies.
— Any staff member of Ready for Hillary PAC.
— Any staff member of the Messina Group, by the president’s former deputy.
— Any staff member of the Clinton Foundation or Clinton Global Initiative.
— Clinton aide Philippe Reines.
At issue is Clinton’s “Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review” and a new version being put together that will look at State efficiencies and programs.
On April 22, AP reporter Matt Lee asked Psaki to name one “tangible” accomplishment from Clinton's initial 2010 QDDR. She couldn't, noting that she arrived at State after the 2010 report was done.
The following day, however, she arrived prepared for Lee’s earlier question. “It’s too bad Matt’s not here,” she said. She then talked about how Clinton led trade efforts as secretary of State, focused on women and reorganized bureaus to focus on energy, economic growth and the environment.
Lee came in near the end of her opening statement and said that he was not given the traditional two-minute warning to get to his briefing room seat.
“I wish we had gotten a two-minute warning, which we didn’t,” said Lee. Psaki said, “I apologize for that. The only thing I did at the top was better answer the question you asked yesterday.”
America Rising’s Tim Miller wrote in his FOIA request that the first answer to the accomplishments question was “part of a larger pattern in which individuals, whether they be supporters of former Secretary Clinton, members of the news media, or even the former secretary herself, who when asked, have been utterly unable to list any substantial, tangible achievements of Clinton during her tenure.”
He added that the follow up on April 23 wasn’t better. “Unfortunately, because the list of accomplishments is so bare, she was forced to rely on vague, pre-prepared talking points largely made up of pablum.”
America Rising had some fun earlier in the week with the issue with a post listing several others who were unable to name a Clinton accomplishment.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com.