Jake Tapper: Obama Admin's Poor Transparency Betrays 'Certain Disdain for the Public'

June 6, 2016

CNN's Jake Tapper tore into President Barack Obama's promise to make his administration the most transparent in history on Monday, as the State Department announced it would not release all of Hillary Clinton's emails before the 2016 presidential election.

"At a certain point, one begins to wonder if these weaknesses are deliberate and that these efforts to conceal information do not conceal a certain disdain for the public and your right to know," Tapper said at the end of a segment about State Department stonewalling of a reporter’s investigation into Clinton’s role in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"Turning now to an Obama administration decision that we learned about today, one that is, once again, at odds with President Obama's much ballyhooed pledge to be the most transparent administration in history. The issue at hand, Hillary Clinton's role in crafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the largest regional trade deal in history brokered while Hillary Clinton led the State Department," Tapper said. "It's a deal which the likely Democratic nominee vouched for as Secretary of State no fewer than 45 times between 2010 and 2013 and called it the gold standard of all trade deals."

"But as a candidate with harsh criticism about the trade deal coming from Bernie Sanders and desiring the support of labor unions that oppose the deal, Clinton said she did not work on the controversial trade deal and she came out against it, arguing that Congress should reject it."

"As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security and I still believe that's the high bar we have to meet," Clinton said in an interview on October 7, 2015. "I don't believe it's going to meet the high bar."

"Now, Clinton's role or lack thereof in the behind the scenes formation of this trade deal has been of real interest. Almost a year ago, last July, the senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times, David Sirota, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the State Department for then-Secretary Clinton's correspondence related to the Pacific Trade Deal. Now this is certainly in the public interest," Tapper said. "Sanders is not the only Clinton opponent of the trade deal. So is Donald Trump, he's also critical of the trade deal. Last November, State Department official Charlotte Duckett estimated that Sirota's request would be completed by April of this year. That did not happen, however. And today, Sirota announced that the State Department has told him that his request will not be completed until the end of November, after the presidential election."

Tapper did not note that the State Department’s response to Sirota estimated that all of Clinton’s emails would be released by November 31, 2016, a date that does not exist—there are only 30 days in November.

"Now, the average Freedom of Information Act request made of the State Department takes 111 days to process. Sirota says this one, according to his calculation, will take 489 days. Now this means that you as a voter will not have information that you might want about Hillary Clinton and an important substantive issue dealing with jobs and trade. You won't have that information of course until after you've decided whether or not you vote for her or for Donald Trump."

"The Department Inspector General (IG) in January noted that the State Department is particularly weak among Obama administration agencies when it comes to fulfilling the obligations of this law," Tapper said. "The IG said that responses to these requests are deficient, that there aren't enough personnel at the State Department to carry out all the requests and that State Department leaders have not played a meaningful role in making any improvements."