Although Donald Trump is a notorious, shameless liar, he still gets better ratings for honesty and trustworthiness than Hillary Clinton. In a recent CBS News survey, 67 percent of voters said the Democratic nominee was not honest and trustworthy, compared to 56 percent who said the same of Trump. To get a sense of how Clinton managed to surpass Trump in this area, have a look at the interview she gave to Fox News yesterday—in particular, her comments about the controversy over her use of a private email account and server while she was secretary of state.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace played a video clip of Clinton assuring the public that her email exchanges did not include classified material:
"I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material." (March 10, 2015)
"I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time." (July 26, 2015)
"I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified." (August 19, 2015)
Wallace pointed out that "after a long investigation, FBI Director James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true." Clinton responded by denying that Comey said what he said:
Chris, that's not what I heard Director Comey say, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to, in my view, clarify.
Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.
I was communicating with over 300 people in my emailing. They certainly did not believe and had no reason to believe that what they were sending was classified.
Now, in retrospect, different agencies come in and say, well, it should have been, but that's not what was happening in real time.
On July 5, the day he recommended against prosecuting Clinton for her "extremely careless" handling of "very sensitive, highly classified information," Comey directly refuted Clinton's claim that retroative classification accounts for any official secrets that may have made their way into her email. "From the group of 30,000 emails returned to the State Department," he said, "110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received [emphasis added]."
As for Clinton's claim that "Director Comey said my answers were truthful," he said exactly the opposite in congressional testimony on July 7. Wallace highlighted part of an exchange between Comey and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.):
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her e-mails either sent or received. Was that true?
Comey: That's not true.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said, "I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material." Was that true?
Comey: There was classified material emailed.
There was more to that exchange, and it was equally damning:
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?
Comey: She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said all work-related emails were returned to the State Department. Was that true?
Comey: No. We found work-related emails, thousands that were not returned.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said neither she nor anyone else deleted work related emails from her personal account. Was that true?
Comey: That's a harder one to answer. We found traces of work-related emails in—on devices or in slack space. Whether they were deleted or whether when the server was changed out something happened to them, there's no doubt that the work-related emails…were removed electronically from the email system.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the e-mails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?
So how could Clinton possibly claim that Comey pronounced her "truthful"? She is referring to this exchange between Comey and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.):
Connolly: The FBI interviewed Secretary Clinton. Is that correct?
Connolly: Did she lie to the FBI in that interview?
Comey: I have no basis for concluding that she was untruthful with us.
In other words, Comey confirmed that Clinton had repeatedly misled the public, but he said there was no evidence she had lied in her interview with the FBI (which would be a federal crime). Clinton's gloss: "Director Comey said my answers were truthful."
Trump lies blatantly, floridly, and compulsively. Clinton's lies, like her husband's, tend to be more subtle, based on split hairs, idiosyncratic interpretations, and mental reservations. But by now there is a clear public record of the contrast between her statements about the email controversy and the facts, forcing her to either admit a series of embarrassing errors, cop to deliberate dishonesty, or continue lying. In that respect she is looking more like Trump every day.