WASHINGTON -- Legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward has been hard on Hillary Clinton during the course of her presidential campaign, comparing her handling of emails to Richard Nixon’s White House tapes.
On Sunday, however, he gave her campaign a small gift. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," he called the select committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi “partisan” for its focus on Clinton and downplayed one of the main new findings the committee has made in relation to Clinton’s private communications.
“Watergate was about a series of crimes, well-established, and so it was the Republicans who eventually turned on Nixon and it was a bipartisan inquiry. Here it is not. It clearly is partisan,” Woodward said.
He was offering a statement of fact -- a simple assessment that half of the committee's panel (the Democratic half) was clearly unconvinced that Clinton had done something criminally wrong. But then Woodward appeared to echo that side's skepticism.
“There are legitimate questions here,” Woodward added. “You have inconsistencies. This is a tragedy and it should be investigated. You are right ... She did and attempted to answer all those questions. But there is no crime here on her part and to try and criminalize it and suggest as some people have said, ‘Oh, she will be in jail.’ I mean there is no evidence of a crime. There is evidence of inconsistency. I mean, my God, this is our business, our lives. People saying one thing privately and saying something different publicly.”
Woodward’s last point was in reference to emails and communiqués uncovered by the committee prior to Thursday’s hearing. In them, Clinton told her daughter, Chelsea, that the group responsible for the Benghazi attack was al Qaeda related. Additionally, in notes on a conversation she had with the Egyptian prime minister, she stated that the attack wasn’t in response to an anti-Muslim tape that had sparked global protests.
Republicans have said this is evidence that Clinton lied to the public in hopes of maintaining the Obama campaign narrative that terrorists were in retreat. Clinton has said that these were simply reflections of the difficulty in getting solid intelligence in the aftermath of the attack -- the fog of war.
Woodward’s position appears to be something else entirely: Yes, the emails and communiqués are concerning ("It better bother us," he said), but let’s not pretend that politicians don’t mislead the public all the time.