Picking longtime fixer as chief of staff proves Clinton hasn't changed
© Getty

"We need to clean this up."

When stories circled around camp Clinton that the president might be dragged down into the mud over the secretary of State's email scandal, there was only one powerbroker Cheryl Mills thought to turn to for a solution. John Podesta, who has been at the Clinton's side since their earliest days in Washington, was the obvious choice, and his role as the couple's fixer-in-chief has never been in doubt.


It's clear that he still possesses the skill and qualifications to be the next White House chief of staff under a Clinton presidency, but his early lead in the selection process reinforces another thought we've learned from Wikileaks: "Her instincts can be terrible."

When the going gets tough, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDershowitz: 'Too many politicians are being subject to criminal prosecution' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE’s reaction is to insulate.

As the Wikileaks email scandal continues to dog the Democrats in the waning days of the election cycle, it is remarkable that Clinton would feed into stories about her campaign chairman’s return to White House service. There is no one closer to the nexus of the Clinton Foundation, the couple themselves, the email server, the paid speeches, and the subsequent cover-up, than John Podesta.  

There is truly no one more enmeshed in the web of Clinton scandals than he. The notion that she would want him to serve in such an important and high-profile role only reinforces the perception that Clinton is someone who has no desire to distance herself from the appearance of questionable ethics. She’s lived and even thrived with the mark of scandal for so long, she no longer cares.

The reason she wants Podesta is immediately clear. He is expert at navigating the Clinton’s through accusations of corruption, personal disgraces, and investigations from all fronts.

If Hillary is to win the presidency, she will do so without the intense journalistic inquiries and vetting that would have been the norm for any other candidate in any previous race.

If she prevails and Trump is no longer in the crosshairs of the mainstream media, the fourth estate will place its POTUS-sized bullseye firmly on her back. Beyond that, the blatant lies and pay-to-play allegations will neither be forgotten by Congress, nor by the public who will demand answers.  

Hillary and her team know that a potential Clinton “45” administration will begin mired in the same sordid scandal-plagued environment as Clinton “42” left behind.

Cue John Podesta — the man who managed to rearrange the deckchairs on the S.S. Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWords matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Appeals court allows Trump emoluments case to move forward Trump commemorates 9/11 with warning to Taliban MORE in a way which made it seem to have actually missed the iceberg. After all, just years after the president’s impeachment, we’ve elected a senator, confirmed a secretary of State, and nominated a presidential candidate, all named Clinton.

He steered the ship through the gathering storm, and it did not go unnoticed. As The Washington Post wrote in 1998:

“The 49-year-old Podesta is leading the frantic struggle to protect and defend a man who has disgraced himself, imperiled his presidency, damaged the Democratic Party and betrayed family, friends and associates.”

Could it be any wonder that an embattled Hillary sees a need for him now, or what she expects to be confronted with if she prevails in the race?

Even in the 1990s, Podesta was willing to go the extra mile for the Clintons when it came to their questionable decisions. Although testifying that he advised the president against pardoning fugitive (and Clinton Foundation donor) Marc Rich, uncovered emails suggested he had backchannel conversations about the deal through his attorney.

Two presidencies later, another set of emails are now placing him at the center of a new generation of Clinton controversies.

At the very least, the Wikileaks Podesta emails confirm that the Clinton campaign was ruthless in tipping the scales of the Democratic party apparatus against Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE.

It also exploited or circumvented every possible rule, loophole, and conflict of interest to push the co-mingled agenda of the campaign, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton’s themselves. John, more than anyone else, is the person responsible for insuring that they all shared the same goal.

While Clinton, Podesta and the rest of their circle of enrichment struggle to parry reporters’ attempts to discuss Wikileaks with modern day red-baiting, the plain and unedited content of the emails is enough to see that a Clinton presidency will be more of the same from a candidate who has been metastasizing controversy since the 1970’s.

These emails were stolen, no doubt, but the public shouldn’t be expected to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

The private exchanges that have now come to light show an inner circle that is more concerned with the candidate’s ability to keep up personal appearances than the substantively disreputable picture of public service they paint. And now Clinton wants to take that same team into the White House with her.

A pithy phrase Clinton once said about Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE works the other way too: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Borelli is a New York City Council member, Republican commentator, and professor. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBorelliNYC.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.