It is surely a competitive category, but perhaps the most lamentable aspect of 2016 has been the way in which Donald Trump has legitimized conspiratorial thinking and dragged the GOP down with him into the fever swamps. It nevertheless bears repeating that, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you don’t have enemies.

A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Republican National Committee requesting a trove of emails sent between the White House and the Hillary Clinton campaign in the earliest days of the 2016 election cycle has just recently been fulfilled. The communications appear to reveal a striking level of cooperation between the White House and Clinton, particularly regarding the urgent need to suppress information regarding the former secretary of state’s emerging email scandal. Most disturbingly, that collusion appears to have implicated political media.

The emails show, immediately following the exposure of Clinton’s scandalous “homebrew” email server to the public in March of 2015, the nascent Clinton campaign was working with the White House and the State Department to coordinate messaging on the matter. Among the more troubling of these requests appears to indicate that the manipulation of a willing media was a part of a coordinated strategy to shield Clinton and the State Department from embarrassment.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Ten days after the story broke, White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri emailed State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki to ask, “between us on the shows…think we can get this done so he is not asked about email.” That apparently referred to Mr. Kerry, who appeared in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” three days later.

Ms. Palmieri had previously announced she would be leaving the administration to join Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in mid-2015, but was still at the White House when she sent the email. Other emails show Ms. Palmieri helped arrange for Ms. Psaki to move from the State Department to the White House communications job Ms. Palmieri was vacating. “Agree completely and working to crush on my end,” wrote back Ms. Psaki, who would move to the White House weeks later.

A day later, Ms. Psaki added, “Good to go on killing CBS idea.” She continued, “And we are going to hold on any other TV options just given the swirl of crap out there.”

As the Journal observed, it just so happened that Kerry was not asked any discomfiting questions about Clinton’s email scandal, “though it isn’t clear how Ms. Psaki could have guaranteed that.” Yes, quite the mystery.

The incestuous nature of the relationship between the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton, the president’s anointed successor since 2009, is hardly surprising or even untoward. It’s the lies around all this that are remarkable and will have a lasting impact on American political comity.

Hillary Clinton insisted that she sent no classified information on that server, that she had surrendered any work-related emails to the State Department, that she was never subpoenaed by House investigators, and that nothing she did was explicitly forbidden—all lies. And now, it’s exposed that the White House, State, and possibly even the press were involved at the very earliest stages in mitigating the damage this scandal could do to Clinton’s political prospects.

On Thursday, I noted that the bizarre bending of the rules by the State Department, the FBI, and the White House to shield Clinton from the consequences of her own actions would have consequences. For a society in the midst of a crisis of confidence in its institutions, protecting Clinton in a manner that reveals her privileged status could be disastrous. The revelations involving Clinton’s apparent corruption and the army of public servants mobilized to protect her are sapping the nation of confidence in the idea that the American system is deserving of preservation. No presidency, no legacy, is worth that.

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