In the third — and final — presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump which was aired live Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton was — at long last — asked about the WikiLeaks disclosures over the past few weeks. In particular, Chris Wallace of Fox News, who moderated the debate, asked Clinton about comments she made to Banco Itaú about her “dream” of “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.”
The question came during a segment on immigration and borders. After each candidate had answered the question of “why are you right and your opponent wrong” on immigration and border security, Wallace asked Clinton, “Secretary Clinton, I want to clear up your position on this issue because in a speech you gave to a Brazilian bank for which you were paid $225,000, we've learned from the Wikileaks that you said this, and I want to quote, ‘My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.’” After an interruption from both Trump and the audience, Wallace continued, “So that's the question. Please, quiet, everybody. Is that your dream, open borders?”
While Trump is known for interrupting in these debates and the audience had been asked to remain silent during the debate, the reaction (Trump thanked Wallace for asking the question and the audience actually gasped) is understandable in this case. As The New American pointed out in previous reports, the video of Donald Trump’s predatory remarks about women and the WikiLeaks disclosures about Clinton's speech transcripts (along with a trove of other damning evidence of her corruption) were made public on the same day, just before the second debate. That debate was dominated by the Trump video while Clinton was asked exactly zero questions about the WikiLeaks documents. It was momentous that Wallace asked the question and both Trump and the audience reasonably showed their surprise.
Clinton, as is her special gift, immediately obfuscated, dodged, and deflected. She answered:
Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy. You know, we trade more energy with our neighbors than we trade with the rest of the world combined. And I do want us to have an electric grid, energy system that crosses borders. I think that would be a great benefit to us.
But you are very clearly quoting from WikiLeaks and what's really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the Internet.
This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself, in an effort — as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed — to influence our election. So I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans which he actually encouraged in the past?
Those are the questions we need answered. We've never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.
Trump referred to Clinton’s evasive non-answer as “a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders” and asked, “How did we get off to Putin?” Any objective viewer — not just those who are Trump fans — would agree. Rather than answer the question, Clinton essentially said that her getting caught with her hand in the cookie jar is irrelevant because “what's really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans.”
Clinton seemed to have prepared for the fact that this question might come up. She was all ready to put her spin on the comments by saying, “Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy.” Alright, let’s look, shall we? Here is what Clinton said, in context:
My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.
Now, let’s unpack that a bit.
Hillary Clinton told a foreign bank that her “dream” was “a hemispheric common market.” She then listed the components which would — in her “dream” — make up that “hemispheric common market.” They were, 1) open trade, 2) open borders, and 3) green, sustainable, energy.
So, while one part of her “dream” deals with energy, she is bending the truth past the breaking point to say “I was talking about energy.” She did not say her “dream” was green, sustainable, energy accompanied by this that and the other. She said her “dream” was “a hemispheric common market.” Remember that this WikiLeaks disclosure was in the form of an e-mail sent by Tony Carr. As The New American reported at the time of the release of this e-mail:
The purpose of the e-mail was to highlight those portions of Clinton’s speeches that would have the ability to damage the campaign, so that Hillary could get in front of the narrative if the speeches were released. One is struck by the irony of a Clinton employee cataloging those excerpts in an e-mail for the purpose of helping Hillary Clinton, only to have his e-mail leaked, thereby exposing Hillary's true colors.
So, the reason the e-mail was written was to give Team Hillary a heads-up that there were some things she would need to spin if they came out. When — as irony would have it — the e-mail itself was the reason these things came out, it should come as no surprise that Clinton would be prepared to put that spin into play.
Unfortunately, Clinton outfoxed both Wallace and Trump and managed to get the conversation going in another direction. Trump began by pointing to the fact that Clinton had pivoted away from the quote and toward Putin. Then, he talked his way right past getting her back on track. Instead, the debate broke into a back-and-forth he-said-she-said about what part — if any — Russia has played in the leaked information.
While the focus was on how WikiLeaks got the information (instead of on the information itself), Clinton accused Trump of being a Putin puppet. She continued along the track she started when she accused Russia of providing the leaked e-mails to WikiLeaks for the purpose of influencing the election. In that earlier exchange (quoted above) she said, “We've never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.”
Well, except for that time when her husband, President Bill Clinton sold military tech secrets to China for campaign money. Again, Trump missed his cue and — embroiled in a battle of interruptions and insults — failed to land what would have been a clear knock-out punch.
In the end, it is hard to say whether either candidate won the debate. Each of them held whatever ground they occupied coming into the debate, but neither likely gained anything. Now that the debates are over, each camp will spend the next two and a half weeks on the campaign trail, getting their messages out to voters.
It’s going to be a long two and a half weeks.
Photo of Hillary Clinton at third debate: AP Images