Scandal Handling 101

Hillary Gets Fitted for a New Mouthpiece

It was her first meeting with Jewish leaders since the disastrous trip, and they had told her that they didn't mind its being open to the press and would leave it up to her.

It was closed.

Kennedy's longtime boss, Lieberman, was on hand to spin for Hillary after that meeting. But Kennedy himself spun and wove for Hillary during the campaign.

When the Clintons relied on friend Terry McAuliffe to guarantee the mortgage for their new White House in Chappaqua, ethics watchdogs howled.

Kennedy, identified as the "White House legal office spokesman," gave this explanation: "This is a mortgage product offered to other customers. It's not unique. It's something anyone can obtain."

Well, not exactly. The Washington Post quoted mortgage bankers as saying it was an unusual deal. And Charles R. Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity, hardly part of any "vast right-wing conspiracy" against the Clintons, said, "I am always uncomfortable when people who give money or raise money are personally involved with a public official financially."

By that time, Kennedy had wide experience; he had handled questions about the China fundraising thing, Al Gore's Buddhist temple thing, the missing e-mails thing, the FALN clemency thing.

It was only natural that late last December he would be the one speaking for the president about the possibility of upcoming pardons.

A December 22 story in The Christian Science Monitor noted that presidential pardons were taking on a "more partisan tone" and that presidents usually wait until the end of their tenure to grant the more controversial ones.

Clinton was to make his announcements soon, the Monitor noted, and Kennedy said fairness, not politics, would be the motivation for the pardons.

"It's about what's just," Kennedy was quoted as saying. "We'll let the record speak for itself."

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