During his appearance on Fox News Sunday — his first since becoming president — President Barack Obama weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, undercutting for the second time the FBI’s investigation into her server. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, host Joe Scarborough was apoplectic. “A criminal investigation is being rigged,” he charged.
Chris Wallace asked the president yesterday if he had changed his mind since last fall, when he stated unequivocally that Clinton had not endangered national security.
“Hillary Clinton was an outstanding secretary of state,” Obama answered. “She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.”
Obama added, “and what I also know, because I handle a lot of classified information, is that there are — there’s classified, and then there’s classified. There’s stuff that is really ‘top secret’ top secret, and there’s stuff that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state, that 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 pressed Obama on whether or not he felt that Clinton had jeopardized national security.
“I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security,” Obama answered. “Now what I’ve also said is that — and she has acknowledged — that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing emails, that she has owned, and she recognizes.”
He went on to “guarantee” that there is no political influence on the Clinton email investigation. “That is institutionally how we’ve always operated,” Obama insisted with a straight face.
“Can you guys believe what you just heard?” an incensed Scarborough asked his panel after playing the clip. “He said he wasn’t going to talk to his attorney general about the pending investigation, but he just did. As he did back in October when he said, ‘No national security issues here, nothing to see, move along.’”
Scarborough pointed out that when Obama made comments in October saying Clinton didn’t put national security at risk, The New York Times ran a piece reporting that the FBI was angry that the president appeared to be taking sides before the investigation was complete.
“And he just did it again!” he said. “And then in the same interview said, ‘But I’m not talking to my attorney general about it.’ Talk about a rigged process.”
Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin agreed, saying that it was “ill-advised” for the president to say ‘I’ve got no connection to this, but here’s what I know about it and here’s my conclusion.'”
He added that Obama should have told Wallace that he couldn’t talk about it because of the pending investigation. “I don’t know why he went on at such length defending her, because in theory he shouldn’t really know the facts of the case,” he pointed out.
Scarborough said it was the FBI director he felt bad for. “…You had been killing yourself to run a fair investigation and twice the President of the United States has made a fool of you by saying his investigation doesn’t matter, because the scales — the lady’s not blindfolded, I’m tipping the scales right now.”
After a lengthy rant he concluded, “a criminal investigation is being rigged.”