While establishment media seized on Donald Trump’s “fat-shaming” of Miss Universe 20 years ago, and Trump himself added fuel to the fire, there were further revelations this week in the ongoing scandal of Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-secure private email server and her handling of classified information bolstering the charge that the former secretary of state should have been prosecuted.
Early Friday morning, Trump escalated the controversy Hillary Clinton launched during the first presidential debate Monday night, sending out middle-of-the-night tweets in response to accusations he made insensitive remarks about the looks and ethnicity of Alicia Machado, a native of Venezuela who was crowned Miss Universe in 1996, when Trump was co-owner of the pageant.
Trump wrote in a tweet sent at 2:14 a.m.: “Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.”
Clinton responded: “What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?”
Meanwhile, in oversight hearings before the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey was confronted with evidence that he let Clinton off the hook when he chose not to refer charges to the attorney general regarding her illegal use of a non-secure email server for State Department business and her mishandling of classified information.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., argued that the federal statute concerning mishandling of classified information does not require the demonstration of intent, as Comey has insisted. Prosecutors need only to show “gross negligence,” which is how Comey described Clinton’s handling of classified information when he announced in July that he had decided not to refer charges.
But in any case, Gowdy argued that Clinton’s destruction of evidence – the deletion of emails and the wiping of the server – and her lying about having sent classified information through the private system demonstrate criminal intent.
The FBI director also was unable to defend the immunity granted to Clinton’s aides at the State Department, including chief of staff Cheryl Mills, noted the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel.
Comey argued Mills was able to extract an immunity deal, avoid answering questions and attend Clinton’s FBI interview because she had positioned herself as Clinton’s personal lawyer, granting her attorney-client privilege.
But, as Strassel pointed out, Mills was not Clinton’s personal lawyer during their service at the State Department, which ended in 2013.
Further, Mills was able to get away with claiming attorney-client privilege only because she told the FBI she didn’t know about Clinton’s server until after they had both left the State Department.
The FBI noted Mills “stated she was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time.”
But on Thursday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, pointed out that according to the FBI’s notes, Clinton IT staffer Bryan Pagliano told investigators he informed Mills of State Department concerns that the private server might pose a “federal records retention issue.” Mills, according to Pagliano, said not to worry about it, because other secretaries of state had used similar setups.
But even more damning, Strassel noted, was an email Chaffetz displayed from Mills to IT specialist Justin Cooper in 2010 that read: “hrc [Hillary Rodham Clinton] email coming back – is server okay?”
Cooper responds: “Ur funny. We are on the same server.”
Despite the gravity of Comey’s apparent inability to defend his decision not to refer criminal charges against the Democratic presidential nominee, much of the media focus this week was on Trump’s two-decade-old treatment of Miss Universe and whether or not it was now fair game for Trump to talk about Bill Clinton’s abuse of women and Hillary Clinton’s role in the vicious attacks and threats against her husband’s victims to preserve their political careers.
Trump and his surrogates contend Clinton’s mention of Machado Monday night opened the door, FoxNews.com reported.
At a New Hampshire rally on Thursday, Trump said the American people “have had it with years and decades of Clinton corruption and scandal.”
“And impeachment for lying,” he said. “… Remember that?”
Clinton said during the debate that Trump had called Machado “Miss Piggy” for putting on considerable weight after winning the crown and referred to her as “Miss Housekeeping.”
Machado responded on Twitter to Clinton’s defense of her, writing in Spanish: “Thank you, Mrs. Clinton. Your respect for women and our differences make you great! I’m with you!”
But as the week went on, it was discovered Machado did gain more than 30 pounds within weeks of winning her title, while Trump claims he urged the pageant not to fire her.
And in 1997, CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos engaged in a little fat-shaming herself, as FoxNews.com reported, writing: “When Alicia Machado of Venezuela was named Miss Universe nine months ago, no one could accuse her of being the size of the universe. But as her universe expanded, so did she, putting on nearly 60 pounds.”
It also was reported that a Venezuelan judge once accused Machado of trying to kill him, she had a daughter with a notorious Mexican drug lord and a video showed her having sex with a male contestant on a Spanish reality TV show.
In an interview with CNN, host Anderson Cooper confronted Machado about the judge’s claim.
“He can say whatever he wants to say,” she said. “I don’t care. You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has. Everybody has a past. And I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now.”