President Obama responded “no” twice in a 60 Minutes interview aired Sunday before interviewer Steve Kroft could even finish the question about whether he knew Hillary Clinton was using private email while secretary of State.
“I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it — it was a mistake that she has acknowledged. And, you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data,” Obama said.
“And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is, in part, because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly.”
Obama added that it “is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment.”
“I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
The president also asserted that “America is a safer place” when asked if the world is a safer place since he came into office.
“I think that there are places, obviously, like Syria that are not safer than when I came into office,” Obama said. “But in terms of us protecting ourselves against terrorism, in terms of us making sure that we are strengthening our alliances, in terms of our reputation around the world, absolutely we’re stronger.”
He also chimed in on Campaign 2016, noting of Donald Trump, “I don’t think he’ll end up being president of the United States.”
“I think that he is a great publicity-seeker, and at a time when the Republican Party hasn’t really figured out what it’s for as opposed to what it’s against, I think that he is — he has tapped into something that exists in the Republican Party that’s real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in a large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don’t think it’s uniform,” Obama said.
“He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character. And, at this early stage, it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a lot of attention.”
Of whether Vice President Joe Biden should jump in the race and run on the Obama record, the president replied, “You know, I am going to let Joe make that decision. And I — I mean what I say. I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history and one of the more consequential.”
“I think he has done great work. I don’t think there’s any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president,” he said. “And if you’re sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know, wrestling with these issues, I’m sure that, for him, he’s saying to himself, I could do a really good job.”
Obama also gave a hat tip to retiring House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for recognizing “nobody gets a hundred percent in our democracy.”
“Given that this Congress hasn’t been able to get much done at all over the last year-and-a- half, two years– for that matter, for the last four– it would be surprising if we were able to make huge strides on the things that are important,” he said. “But I have a more modest goal, which is to make sure that Congress doesn’t do damage to the economy.”