The man who served as the lead Republican prosecutor for the congressional Whitewater investigation now has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
“I realized we spent a huge amount of time in the ’90s on issues that were much less important than what was brewing in terms of terrorism,” Michael Chertoff told Eli Lake, a columnist for Bloomberg View, over the weekend.
Clinton, Chertoff said, “has good judgment and a strategic vision how to deal with the threats that face us.”
The Senate Whitewater Committee, which investigated the Clintons for their ties to an Arkansas land deal and other scandals that grew out of it, marked an early foray in a series of bitter investigations into the family in the 1990s. Ken Starr, the independent counsel investigating the Whitewater allegations, would later turn his attention to Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
As a senator from New York, Hillary Clinton was the lone vote against Chertoff’s nominations to the Justice Department’s criminal division in 2001 and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2003, although she nominated Chertoff to be Homeland Security secretary in 2005.
Chertoff told Lake that none of the political rivals’ past grudges compare to the national security threat posed by Donald Trump.
“People can go back decades and perhaps criticize some of the judgments that were made,” he said. “That is very, very insignificant compared to the fundamental issue of how to protect the country.”
Chertoff, who was also co-author of the Patriot Act, said he thinks ”Trump’s sense of loyalties are misplaced,” after watching the first presidential debate.
“Some of our NATO allies sent troops overseas, at the same time he is defending Russia and trying to dismiss what is widely acknowledged to be Russian intrusions into the databases of our political parties and political figures,” Chertoff told Lake of Trump’s suggestion that NATO countries increase their payments to the organization in order to earn the guarantee of U.S. protection.
Chertoff was also one of 50 Republican national security signatories on a letter condemning Trump’s “erratic” behavior and claiming the Republican nominee “has little understanding of America’s national interests.”
Trump, Chertoff said, is proposing “making enemies of your friends and cozying up to your adversaries,” while Clinton would be “clear eyed and tough on national security issues.”