U.S. President Barack Obama has defended former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton amid FBI investigations into the possibility that she mishandled classified information while using a private email server to send and receive official emails as secretary of state.
Despite noting that he had to be careful about his pronouncements on the issue because of ongoing investigations, Obama went on to defend Clinton, saying that in his opinion she never jeopardized national security in her handling of emails. He said that instead she deserves praise for having performed outstandingly as secretary of state.
Responding to questions about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state on the latest edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Obama also said he could guarantee there was no political influence in the ongoing FBI probe into the matter.
According to President Obama, Clinton did not “intentionally” put the country’s security in jeopardy through her handling of emails as secretary of state. However, he acknowledged that Clinton had exhibited a degree of carelessness in managing her emails as secretary of state, but he was adamant that she did not jeopardize America’s national security.
The president insisted that it is important for people to assess the issue from the broader perspective that she did an outstanding job as a secretary of state.
“Hillary Clinton was an outstanding Secretary of State,” Obama said. “She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.”
When Wallace asked Obama whether he was willing to stick his neck out by saying that Clinton did not jeopardize national security, Obama responded, “I continue to believe she has not jeopardized America’s national security.”
“Now what I also said is that — and she’s acknowledged — that there’s carelessness in terms of managing e-mails that she has owned. And she recognizes that,” Obama said.
He continued, “But I also think it is important to keep this in perspective. This is somebody who served her country for four years as Secretary of State and did an outstanding job.”
“This is somebody who has served her country for four years as secretary of state, and did an outstanding job.”
Referring to his experience handling information as president, Obama said there were different levels of “classified” information.
“There’s stuff that is really top-secret,” he said, “and there’s stuff you might not want on the transom, or going out over the wire, but is basically stuff that you could get in open-source.”
Wallace then asked Obama if he could guarantee that the Justice Department would be allowed to do its job purely on legal grounds without political interference.
Obama responded, saying he could guarantee that he would not allow politics to obstruct the investigations. He said he has not talked with the Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the investigations. He also added that as a matter of policy he does not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations.
“I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, not just in this case but in any case,” Obama said.
When Wallace pressed further, asking whether Obama’s guarantee holds even if Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, Obama answered impatiently, “How many times do I have to say it, Chris? Guaranteed.”
The interview came amid ongoing FBI investigations into the use of a private email server by the former secretary of state. Recently, the State Department announced discovery of more than 20 emails on Clinton’s private server that were upgraded to “Top Secret.” But the emails were not released to the public.
Other emails have had to be redacted before they were released by the State Department because they contained classified information.
Earlier in the week Clinton responded to questions during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC Today whether she was worried she would be arrested and charged with crimes over her use of a private server. The Democratic presidential front-runner said there was “not even the remotest chance” that she would be arrested.
She insisted that speculations about her impending arrest were only a “fantasy” for Republicans.
[Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP]