There are few reporters who are doing their job of holding our federal government accountable. But one who continues to hammer away in the face of constant resistance is the Associated Press’s Matt Lee.
During a recent State Department press briefing, Lee tried to help NBC reporter Abigail Williams who couldn’t get a straight answer from DoS spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau. Williams was inquiring about the latest batch of Hillary Clinton e-mails that uncovered an improper relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State.
The e-mail in question reveals that an executive at the Clinton Foundation asked for a special favor from the department on behalf of a billionaire donor. Trudeau only dodged, saying, “I’m not going to speak to specific e-mails. However, I think you guys know State Department officials are regularly in touch with a wide variety of outside individuals.”
Williams pressed, but Trudeau repeated the approved script.
So, Lee decided it was time to help his colleague get a straight answer. It didn’t work for him either:
LEE: Can you at least try to answer Abigail’s question, which was, has the department looked into this and determined that there was no impropriety?
TRUDEAU: The department is regularly in touch with people across the spectrum, Matt.
LEE: That’s not the question. The question is whether or not you’ve looked into this and determined that everything was okay, there was nothing wrong.
TRUDEAU: We feel confident in our ability and our past practice of reaching out to a variety of sources and being responsive to requests.
LEE: I’m sorry. Am I not speaking English? I mean, is it coming across as a foreign… I’m not asking… no one’s saying it’s not okay, or bad for the department to get a variety of input from different people… The question is whether or not you’ve determined that there was nothing improper here.
When there’s no good answer, deflect. The Obama administration knows this technique well. They are literally laughing at us.