Clinton told investigators she could not recall getting any briefings on how to handle classified information or comply with laws governing the preservation of federal records, the summary of her interview shows.Concussion or not, senior moments or not, managing the details of yoga classes and Chelsea's nuptials or not, selective forgetfulness is a tactic known to all lawyers.
"However, in December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot," the FBI's summary said. "Based on her doctor's advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received."
Maybe some lawyers prepare witnesses by telling them if you don’t recall something, you don’t need to answer it, “wink, wink.” Refusing to answer questions may seem to a witness, or her lawyer, to be a show of strength. That tactic is rarely deemed acceptable by a judge. Not recalling in a deposition significantly limits an ability to testify months or years later at trial. Magically returning memory, may look good in the movies, but in real life they are usually the sign of the loser at trial.Yes, and Naggin' Crooked Forgetful Hillary got herself tossed from the Watergate investigation, but one lesson, about how to not recall and not commit perjury, must have stuck.
Those of us that are old enough to remember the lexicon of American witnesses stricken with convenient amnesia recall the classic examples of Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who being examined in regard to the Watergate break-in and cover up, inconceivably seemed unable to recall anything when testifying in front of the Senate Watergate Committee. Sometimes I hear so many “I don’t recalls” that I wonder if those came from the prompting of lawyers, or the fact that although lay witnesses don’t know much about depositions, they have somehow, through movies, or whatever, gotten the impression that “I don’t recall” is the magic answer.
And both Clintons have been very good at parsing words, and at ducking questions by strategic forgetfulness. And behaving badly. Repeatedly, and with glee. That's why the locution is "classic Clinton scandal" rather than "classic Kennedy scandal" or "classic Bush scandal." (And, for all his faults, Mr Obama's behavior is more that of the amateur ideologue than of the grifter.)
Let's refresh your memories, and dip into the usual Clinton playbook, with a story from twenty years ago.
In interviews before her billing records were made public in January 1996, the first lady could not remember anything that was said during the telephone call. Even after the billing records were released, she said she could not remember who she talked to at the securities commission. The purpose of the call was perfunctory, she told lawyers for the RTC: "I was seeking public information as to who in the securities department would handle savings and loan inquiries." She offered a somewhat more detailed version in a Jan. 13, 1996, interview with Scott Simon of National Public Radio:Which of the Marx Brothers had it first as farce, then as tragedy. Note, though, the same, "in retrospect I would" have done it differently.
"Well, my memory about that is that I called the office. I do not believe I ever talked with the commissioner. And the reason I called is that we didn't know – namely, Mr. Massey and the law firm – who in the securities office was to handle this kind of work, because it was something new for Arkansas. Other states had done it, and the idea was to find out whether it was legal under state law. And the securities commissioner under Arkansas law at that time had responsibility for supervising savings and loans. But I never knew who that person was, and so I called to find out."
Later in the interview, she added: ". . . perhaps in retrospect I would never have even picked up the phone to call and say, 'Gee, who handles S&L matters in the securities commission?' I didn't think that was anything that was inappropriate, and then to tell Mr. Massey who he should call and who he should deal with."
And a parody song of the era even anticipated a concussion.
We have much to look forward to.
Nine weeks to endure.