President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton do not appear to be on the same page regarding her use of a personal email server, if the President’s interview with Fox News Sunday‘s Chris Wallace is any indication. On Sunday, the President tried to reassure Americans that Hillary had not compromised national security, but along the way, he also said that he agreed with Secretary Clinton that there had been “carelessness” regarding her use of email:
I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security. Now what I’ve also said is that — and she has acknowledged — that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing e-mails, that she has owned, and she recognizes. But I also think it is important to keep this in perspective. This is somebody who has served her country for four years as secretary of state, and did an outstanding job. And no one has suggested that in some ways, as a consequence of how she’s handled e-mails, that that detracted from her excellent ability to carry out her duties.
That didn’t sound quite right, and it turns out it isn’t. While Hillary has apologized for the server and the questions it has raised, she hasn’t copped to carelessness. In fact, a few weeks ago, CNBC’s John Harwood interviewed Clinton, and the subject of the emails came up, as it often does. Here’s how that went:
John Harwood: Well, in terms of your own reflection on this, though, assume – let’s say you’re right and there’s no legal case. Given the fact that more than 1,000 e-mails, and I recognize there’s a dispute, have been described as classified, some even top secret. Would you concede that you and the people who worked for you at State Department were sloppy in the way you handled top secret information?
Hillary Clinton: No. No, because let’s be clear about this. There wasn’t a single one of those that was marked classified, either sent or received. That hasn’t changed. Now, what I think the public may not understand is that when a process is undertaken to determine whether e-mails should be made public – and remember, I asked, nobody told me to. I said make them all public. I’ve been the most transparent public official in modern times as far as I know. When that process is undertaken, then other agencies get to weigh in and get to say, hey, wait a minute, I don’t think that should come out now, whether or not the State Department or if I were in some other agency agrees. That is par for the course. Now whether it should be or not, is a whole separate issue. But it doesn’t change in any way. Nothing was marked classified and you know, that is just a fact. And it’s, I think, one that bears repeating.
At least Hillary’s opponents can take comfort in the knowledge that the White House and the Clinton campaign are obviously not coordinating messaging, although the President’s tweak might not be a bad one for Secretary Clinton to adopt. A small admission like that could make the other side of the President’s argument go down easier.
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