AP attempts to create Clinton controversy; offers no evidence

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

From the Associated Press:

The first sign of cracks in President-elect Barack Obama's foreign policy team of rivals emerged on Monday as his choices for secretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations visited the State Department.

Wow, that sounds ominous. What is the AP talking about?

As Secretary of State-pick Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. envoy-choice Susan Rice separately visited the diplomatic agency's headquarters in Washington's Foggy Bottom neighborhood, persons familiar with the transition said that Rice wants to install her own transition team inside the department.

Such a move by an incoming U.N. ambassador is rare, if not unprecedented, because the job is based at the United Nations in New York, where Rice already has a small transition staff, the sources familiar with the incoming administration.

Well, that's pretty underwhelming. The AP can't even say that a transition team for Rice at State would be unprecedented. This is supposed to constitute "cracks" in Obama's "team"? Weak, weak stuff.

There must be more, right? No, not really:

Officials with Clinton's transition team declined to comment on the matter, and aides to Rice could not immediately be reached. State Department officials declined to comment on issues related to the transition.

It was not clear if Clinton and Rice _ who had strained relations during the Democratic primaries because of Rice's steadfast backing of Obama _ saw each other at the State Department as Clinton left the building shortly after Rice arrived.

So there's no indication Clinton and Rice saw each other. There's no indication that it would have been a problem if they did. Or if they didn't. Neither Clinton's team nor Rice's aides nor State department officials would comment. So, basically: still no "sign of cracks."

The AP continues:

During the presidential campaign, some Clinton aides saw Rice's early decision to back Obama as a betrayal because of her previous role as a high State Department official during President Bill Clinton's administration. Rice's desire to place her own team in Washington could fuel speculation that those tensions will carry into the new administration.

So, more than six months ago, some Clinton aides were upset about Rice's support of Obama. And the AP thinks that means there are now "signs of cracks" in Obama's team?

Note also that the AP says Rice's desire for a team in Washington "could fuel speculation" that those tensions would continue. That's circular nonsense at best. The entire AP article is nothing more than speculation those tensions would occur. But the article contains no evidence that anyone other than the AP is doing any such speculation.

AP, continuing directly:

The officials could not say if Clinton's team had formally objected to Rice's plan, or even if Rice would be able to install a separate transition team inside the State Department. But they noted that dueling transition teams could complicate the handover by blurring lines of authority.

Uh ... which "officials"? The only "officials" previously referred to are "Officials with Clinton's transition team," who declined to comment, and "State Department officials" - who also declined to comment.

In any case, whoever the AP means by "The officials," they don't give any indication that Clinton's team objects to Rice's plan. They merely "noted" that the teams "could" complicate things. That's a "sign of cracks"? "Officials" - of or with what or who, the AP does not even hint - note that the transition "could" be complicated?

There is, in short, absolutely nothing here.

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