Lindsey Graham: Joe Biden as Good a Man as God Ever Created

The HuffPo gang spent some time interviewing Republican presidential contender Lindsey Graham. He became emotional talking about his good friend, Vice President Joe Biden.

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) celebrated his retirement from the Air National Guard last week after 33 years of military service, he was greeted at the ceremony by an unexpected guest: Vice President Joe Biden.

Though they hail from opposing parties, Graham and Biden have long had a close friendship, going back to their years serving together in the Senate. The South Carolina senator and 2016 Republican presidential candidate was particularly touched that the vice president attended his military sendoff.

Over the weekend, The Huffington Post spent a day with Graham on the campaign trail in Iowa for the latest installment of our original series, ’16 And President. We’ll have the full episode up next week, but the above clip is a short preview of what’s to come.

In the video, Graham becomes emotional when talking about how the vice president has dealt with the recent death of his son, Beau Biden.

Biden and Graham have been struck by multiple personal tragedies in their lives: Biden lost his wife and daughter in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate, while Graham’s parents both died when he was in college. Graham’s heartfelt words reflect an enduring bond between the two men that has been shaped, in part, by their shared heartbreak.

The video is well worth watching. In an era of incredibly polarized politics and 24/7/365 campaign mode, it’s refreshing to see politicians treat each other as human beings now and again.


Jim Webb, Iraq war critic in Senate, running for president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and accomplished novelist who became a fierce critic of the Iraq war in the Senate, announced Thursday that he’s challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton and other rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination….


Why reporters won’t find anything damning in Hillary Clinton’s emails

Every month through January, the State Department will release a fresh batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails under the order of federal judge. Reporters will scan them for damning evidence that she shouldn’t be president. Republicans will say they smell smoke, even if there’s no visible fire. Democrats will look other way and pray their favorite for the 2016 presidential nomination is clean enough.

But it’s all a shell game. If there are damning missives in Clinton’s files, they’re not likely to be found among the handpicked emails Clinton’s team gave the State Department.

Don’t get me wrong. There were lots of fun finds in a tranche released Tuesday: Clinton still used fax machines, top White House officials knew she used a private email address even though they said they didn’t, and her reaction to a big Senate cloture vote on the Affordable Care Act was “Finally!!!”

.@HillaryClinton reaction to cloture, 60-39, on key Senate ACA vote.

— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) July 1, 2015

There were also a few more disturbing nuggets, most of which center around who sought and got access to Clinton, or who tried to get access to her. In one note, Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair, tries to broker a meeting between Clinton and a senior Qatari official.

But don’t expect anyone to find a needle of serious wrongdoing in the haystack of 55,000 pages of Clinton emails that State is making public. I don’t say that because Clinton is above reproach. I say it because these emails are a distraction, a haystack from which any needles may already have been removed.

There’s another set — or at least there was — on a private server at Clinton’s house. Clinton unilaterally decided which of her emails belonged in the public domain and which were personal. Then she wiped her server clean. You can almost imagine Clinton having a good belly laugh at the scores of reporters who are now poring through the documents she handed over without a fight. Sometimes, we can’t tell the difference between steak and a chew toy.

Back up a minute. Explain this whole email server controversy to me. I couldn’t hear the news over the commotion of Killer Mike endorsing Bernie Sanders.

The email controversy boils down to one central question: Did Clinton keep personal control of her work email — and wipe her server — to hide anything that would have hurt her legally or politically? Related questions about her handling of email have been raised, but that’s the heart of the issue.

It’s instructive to lay out the basic components of the story before rendering judgment.

Shortly before she went to work in the Obama administration, Clinton decided to use a personal email account connected to a server at her private home in upstate New York. It’s not unusual for federal officials to maintain both government and personal accounts. But Clinton chose not to use a government account at all. Both her official and private correspondence went through her personal account. That effectively prevented the State Department from having access to her email.

In October 2014, State sent a letter to former secretaries of state asking them to turn over personal email related to official business. Clinton complied, at least in part, early in 2015, sending 55,000 pages of email to the department.

In March 2015, the New York Times reported that Clinton had exclusively used her personal email account. That helped explain why Freedom of Information Act requests from Gawker and other media outlets seeking Clinton emails, including some that already had been revealed by a hacker, were rejected on the basis that State didn’t have them.

The system Clinton set up was unorthodox, to say the least, and some experts on federal public records laws and regulations believe that, even if Clinton didn’t break the rules, she skirted them, as Politifact reported.

“While Clinton may have technical arguments for why she complied with each of these and the other rules that have been discussed in the news, the argument that Clinton complied with the letter and spirit of the law is unsustainable,” said Douglas Cox, a law professor at City University of New York who studies records preservation.

Federal officials don’t always hit the mark perfectly, but the basic firewall separating government business from personal affairs is not a hard concept to grasp. In the past, Congress has investigated federal officials who were accused of playing games with their email to avoid having communications archived in public records. For example, top White House aides in the Bush administration used email accounts hosted on a server owned by the Republican National Committee and got in hot water for it.

(For that reason, the irony of the RNC attacking Clinton over her personal email server is pretty rich.)

The press conference that raised more questions than it answered

After the Times report and follow-up stories by other news outlets, Clinton held a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. There, she said that she had turned over all of her work-related email to the State Department and wiped her server of emails she described as personal in nature. She was the arbiter, then, of what belonged in the public domain and what did not.

Since then, the House Select Committee on Benghazi has been trying to show that she didn’t actually give State all of her work-related email in an effort to open up the question of what was destroyed and whether there’s any way to see it restored.

Last week, the State Department acknowledged it did not have in its files all or part of 15 documents produced for the committee by Sid Blumenthal, a Clinton friend who emailed her memos about the state of affairs in Libya. The Blumenthal emails that State didn’t have in its records were pretty similar in nature to others that Clinton gave to State and that State gave to the committee. But, the discrepancy raised the question of whether Clinton had withheld work email.

Her spokesman, Nick Merrill, reiterated that Clinton had given all of her emails concerning official business to the State Department.

The Republicans can’t be trusted wrong. Clinton can’t be trusted. We need a ref.

Like most Washington controversies, the Clinton email case can be impenetrable. But there’s an easy solution to this one: Clinton should give her server and any other relevant material to an independent third party to review if any of the information can be salvaged and if any of it truly belongs in the public domain.

I have no idea what was withheld. Maybe there’s stuff that’s damaging. Maybe there’s stuff that’s just embarrassing. Maybe both, maybe neither. All we know is that Clinton went to some pretty extreme lengths to preserve her ability to separate the piles without interference from civil servants. She set up a unique system for handling email before she started her job. And she knows better. She graduated from Yale law, worked on a committee that investigated Watergate and survived the document-production bonanza of the Clinton White House years. She understands the legal view of spoliation of evidence: if you destroy something, it is presumed that it was detrimental to your case.

And yet it’s hard to blame Clinton for being a bit paranoid about her paper trail. It turns out — gasp! — that Republicans in Congress are out to get her. They’ve set up a whole special committee to investigate her while she runs for president. It was created under the auspices of a probe into the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi but has mainly focused on trying to hurt Clinton and the Democratic Party heading into the 2016 election. She was right to anticipate that someone would come looking for her records, and that they would be motivated more by politics than the public interest.

The result is Clinton and the Republicans are trapped in a poisonous, self-perpetuating cycle. Republicans believe Clinton is secretive and withholding so they launch endless fishing expeditions to catch her in scandals, Clinton protects herself by doing things that make her look secretive and withholding and further inflame Republican conspiracy theories about her. Rinse, repeat.

But for Republicans, the strategy is paying off: most Americans now say they don’t believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy.

Republicans can’t be the arbiters of which of Clinton’s communications belong in the public domain — an exercise that would surely be used to wreak political damage rather than serve the public interest. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy already has proved himself to be a partisan middleweight and a legal lightweight. Neither should Clinton be the one to decide which of her emails are public. She’s leaned far too heavily against disclosure and compliance, both as first lady and as secretary of State.

At best, Clinton created a political maelstrom for herself — and for a Democratic Party that seems inclined to nominate her for president. At worst, she robbed the public of information that could be used to evaluate her merits and deficiencies as a candidate. It’s entirely possible that she did both. And none of that bodes well for transparency in the presidency if she’s elected.

The answer is for Clinton to hand any remnants of the second set of documents to a disinterested third party to determine what belongs to her and what belongs to us. Gowdy’s committee doesn’t deserve her records, but the public does.


TRUMP: The US shouldn’t worry about Greece because if Germany doesn’t save it, Russia will


Real estate developer and presidential candidate Donald Trump thinks the US needs to stay out of Greece’s problems.

Greece has been making headlines lately due to its inability to make debt payments. The fear among economists, investors and traders is that Greece’s economic problems could spill into the rest of Europe and perhaps the rest of the world.

However, Trump argued Wednesday morning that Germany will take care of the embattled European country. 

“I’d stay back a little bit. I wouldn’t get too involved,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “Don’t forget that the whole Euro situation was created to compete against the United States. They put together a group of countries to beat the United States. Now Germany’s very powerful, very strong. I’d let Germany handle it.”

Trump added that if Germany doesn’t fix  the Greek debt situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin would step in.

“We have enough problems,” he said. “Germany will … take care of it. Frankly, Putin probably comes in to save the day if Germany doesn’t.”

Trump added, “So I think that Greece is going to be in better shape than people think.”

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump: Here’s the Obama official I’d fire first

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The Hillary Doctrine: Sex & American Foreign Policy (Book Launch)

“The subjugation of women is a direct threat to the security of the United States,” declared Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010. The Hillary Doctrine, as it’s come to be known, was formally incorporated into the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, signaling the United States’ commitment to the idea that empowering women and girls is a critical force for peace and should be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.


Here’s Why Hillary Clinton Is Staying Quiet on National Security

She’s gambling that the Democratic base will vote on other issues. Will it pay off in November 2016?


Donald Trump appears to like Vladimir Putin more than he liked Obama

Donald Trump, who is actually running for president of the United States, had some things to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Fox News interview that ran on Monday night:

Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever. He’s got a tremendous popularity in Russia, they love what he’s doing, they love what he represents.

Trump went on to advocate for improving ties with Putin, explaining that his 2013 trip to Russia (he was there for the Miss Universe pageant) made him perfect for such a job. “I would be willing to bet I would have a great relationship with Putin,” he said.

I was over in Moscow two years ago, and I will tell you — you can get along with those people, and get along with them well,” Trump explained. “You can make deals with those people. Obama can’t.”

Here’s video, courtesy of Mediaite (starts around 4:14):

Watch the latest video at

Trump’s affinity for Russia’s strongman makes a certain kind of sense: Trump would make a fantastic Russian oligarch. But there’s a serious political point here: this kind of nuttery isn’t great for Trump, but it’s a boon to other Republican presidential candidates looking to highlight their own, less insane foreign policy views.

Trump is super unpopular among Republicans, and positions like “We should cuddle up to the anti-American strongman in the Kremlin” aren’t exactly going to endear him to the GOP base. That, as Dan Drezner points out, sets up other candidates to smash him: “Eviscerating Trump on the debate stage could be a way for a Cruz or a Paul or Christie or a Perry to stand out.”

That’s especially true on foreign policy, an increasingly important issue for Republican voters and especially for big donors. Jeb Bush, for example, is having a lot of problems articulating a strong position on foreign policy. That’s helped Marco Rubio, a senator who’s spent years developing his foreign policy bona fides, become the favorite among some leading hawks.

Bashing Trump’s Putin babble is a good opportunity for Bush to do something pretty entertaining — and demonstrate his ability to sell the GOP company line on foreign policy in the process.


Jeb Bush Enters 2016 Race, Keeping National Security at a Distance

John Ellis Bush, better known as Jeb, entered the 2016 presidential race as expected on Monday in Miami, Florida, where he forged his own political career as a successful businessman and…


Editorial: Hillary Clinton’s first ‘hard choice’ on trade

AFTER WORLD War II, the United States and its allies labored mightily to construct a global free-trade regime. They did so for many reasons, not least to avoid the trade wars that had fueled international tension and, ultimately, global conflict. In other words, trade — and the prosperity and interdependence it engenders — was central to both U.S. economic strategy and U.S. security policy. Read full article >>


Jim Webb’s Seven-Point Plan to Save U.S. Foreign Policy

Evan Gottesman

Politics, Americas

The possible presidential candidate is unhappy with current U.S. foreign policy. Here’s how he would save it.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) has a seven-point plan to save American foreign policy.

“Our country is in need of a clearly articulated foreign policy statement,” Webb boldly declared to an audience at George Mason University.

Senator Webb, who also served as Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, characterized current U.S. foreign policy as reactive and unstructured. Given this state of affairs, Webb intimated his own platform aimed at grounding America’s approach to the world in seven key principles.

1. The United States should be able to identify its national security objectives and value systems.

 “I like to see myself as a realist,” Webb told audience members, contrasting himself with those “who see war at every corner.” Senator Webb affirmed his opposition to foreign interventions that did not serve any discernable national interest or worse, undermined America’s global position.

“I was one of the first people to warn of the strategic blunder of going into Iraq,” Webb recalled. Indeed, he penned an op-ed in The Washington Post in September 2002 in which he asked readers, “Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and long-term occupation of Iraq?”

Throughout the years, Senator Webb has maintained a consistent position on foreign interventions. The Obama administration justified the 2011 War in Libya in humanitarian terms via the responsibility to protect, a pretext Webb criticized as “vague.”

2. The United States should be able to develop partnerships with trustworthy actors.

Senator Webb posited three criteria when considering aligning with a foreign nation: the country’s stability, whether it engages in aggressive expansionism, and how its government treats the citizenry.

Despite listing human rights as an area of interest in fostering overseas partnerships, Webb challenged inconsistent approaches to democracy overseas, citing American engagement with China as a standard. When he returned from a trip to Myanmar, a reporter questioned how he could visit an authoritarian state in good conscience. Webb pushed back: “When was the last time China had an election?”

Read full article