Ex-Clinton Aide George Stephanopoulos Touts Call for Hillary to Resign Over WikiLeaks Scandal
Former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday hyped a call for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign over the revelations in the WikiLeaks release. While talking to Robert Gibbs, the GMA host quoted Jack Shafer of Slate: "Diplomacy is about face. And the only way for other nations to save face will be to give them Clinton's scalp."
The attack on the wife of his former boss may seem out of character for Stephanopoulos, but it still came from a default liberal perspective. The anchor began his badgering of Gibbs by noting, "...The State Department brushed off this call by Julian Assange for Hillary Clinton to resign. But Assange is not alone."
Continuing to recite from Shafer's article, he lectured the White House Press Secretary: "There's no way that the new WikiLeaks leaks don't leave Hillary Clinton holding the smoking gun. Sooner or later, the weakened and humiliated Secretary of State will have to pay."
Video after the jump
Shafer's anger came over the WikiLeak revelation that Clinton asked State Department officials to collect data on U.N. officials. On Monday, Stephanopoulos offered another sympathetic take on the scandal.
He quoted Assange "If citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what's going on behind the scenes." The host then wondered if the leaks were "important information for the public to have."
A transcript of the December 1 segment follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, Washington's big battle. As your taxes about to go up? Will the government shut down? Can the President and Congress agree to extend unemployment benefits before they dry up? Our questions this morning for White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now for the President's perspective on all this, we're joined by the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs. And we just heard Jim Sciutto say the White House, I mean the State Department brushed off this call by Julian Assange for Hillary Clinton to resign. But Assange is not alone. Jack Shafer in Slate says that this cable asking State Department officials to collect information on U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and others, is a sign that Hillary Clinton is going to have to go. He writes, "Diplomacy is about face. And the only way for other nations to save face will be to give them Clinton's scalp. There's no way that the new WikiLeaks leaks don't leave Hillary Clinton holding the smoking gun. Sooner or later, the weakened and humiliated Secretary of State will have to pay." Your response?
ROBERT GIBBS: I think that absurd and ridiculous. I think Secretary of State Clinton is doing a wonderful job. I think the foreign policy that she and the President are pursuing will make us stronger in the world. Will make our country safer. He appreciates greatly the work that she does. And we also appreciate, both of them, appreciate the great work our diplomats do around the world, to further our American interests and keep this world safe from people who wish to do us harm.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, there's an Interpol warrant out for Mr. Assange's arrest. Are U.S. authorities actively trying to arrest him?
GIBBS: Look, there's an ongoing criminal investigation into the leaking and the posting of all these documents, George. I don't want to get into that. Obviously, there is a series of criminal activities that have happened that are being looked into. And our government has not ruled any options out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: By Mr. Assange?
GIBBS: Our government has not ruled any options out and I'm certainly not going to do that here today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, we've heard that WikiLeaks is seeking out other targets, including corporations, banks, perhaps media organization. Is there any way to shut them down?
GIBBS: Well, George, I don't- I don't know all the details of that. And probably wouldn't get into it here. But, I think it's important for the American people to know that our foreign policy is stronger than one person and one person and one person's website.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn to the domestic issues right now. We heard Senator McConnell in Jon Karl's piece say that Republicans are absolutely united behind the principles that no one's taxes at all should go up. Many Democrats have also joined that position. Doesn't that mean that there's going to have to be a temporary extension for all the tax cuts?
GIBBS: Well, George, as you know, the President yesterday in meeting with bipartisan leaders, appointed our OMB Director Jack Lew and our Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to sit down with members and senators to start work through a compromise. The President's principles are clear. And that is for the middle class, their taxes cannot go up when a series of tax cuts expire. His other line in the sand, quite frankly, George, is that many Republicans would like to see the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires extended permanently. That's borrowing $700 billion from countries like China, money we don't have. So, the President has tasked those individuals to find some amount of common ground that exists in the parameters that I just laid out. I think the President's very optimistic, though, that we can get something that keeps our economy moving, that strengthens our economic recovery, and most importantly, doesn't raise taxes on middle-class Americans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you just said extending the tax cuts for the wealthy is a line in the sand. Does that mean the President would veto any bill that extends the tax cuts for the wealthy?
GIBBS: Well, no. I said something that would permanently extend the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ahh, okay. That's helpful. I guess the question, then that we'll turn to, because a lot of people seem to be coalescing around this idea of temporary extension, is what can Democrats and the White House get in return? And what are the President's top priorities there? It seems like, from what you said in the past, that the START treaty and extending unemployment benefits seem to be at the top of the list. Would that be a fair trade? Temporary extension of all of the tax cuts, in return for passage of the START treaty and the extension of unemployment benefits?
GIBBS: Well, I want to put these two issues aside, George. Because I think that we have a responsibility, Democrats and Republican, to figure out this tax issue by the end of the year, when tax cuts are set to expire and taxes would go up for those that have not just been battered by this recession, but battered by years before this recession. The President also strongly believes, and I think there was some agreement in that room yesterday, that the Senate's going to be here for a little bit. The House will, too. And there are other this that we can and should get done, keeping our country safe from loose nuclear weapons by approving the START treaty that reduces the stockpiles and Russia's nuclear stockpile and gives us the ability to verify what they're doing with their nuclear arsenal, I think is tremendously important and will keep our country safe. You mentioned unemployment insurance benefits, which are crucial for those who are suffered in this recession and need a little help because that money goes right back into the economy. I think those are a host of things that the President and I think bipartisan leaders, can get done before we leave town for the year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Robert Gibbs, thank you very much. We have ten seconds left. Should we also expect that any staff changes in the white house will be announced before the President goes on vacation?
GIBBS: You know, I think some certainly will. I don't know that all of them will be made before the end of the year.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.