Hillary Clinton was "careless" with her handling of classified emails, but her actions—or lack thereof—didn't jeopardize American national security interests, according to President Obama.
During an interview with FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace that aired over the weekend, the president offered his support to the leading Democrat candidate to replace him in January. And while those comments alone could be seen as interfering with a federal investigation, he offered a guarantee that no political influence was being placed upon the FBI as it looks into Clinton's handling of classified material while secretary of state.
"Here's what I know," Obama said during the interview. "Hillary Clinton was an outstanding Secretary of State. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy."
Wallace then asked the president to clarify his remark. Was he suggesting Clinton's activities hadn't jeopardized the country?
"I continue to believe she has not jeopardized America's national security," Obama said. "Now what I also said is that—and she's acknowledged—that there's a carelessness in terms of managing emails that she has owned. And she recognizes that.
"But I also think 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, and no one has suggested that in some ways as a consequence of how she's handled emails that that detracted from her excellent ability to carry out her duties."
Wallace then grilled the president on whether or not the White House or Justice Department would apply pressure on the FBI to ensure a particular outcome. Obama then provided a guarantee to the FOX News host.
"I can guarantee," he promised. "I can guarantee that not because I give Attorney General Lynch a directive, that is institutionally how we have always operated. I do not talk to the Attorney General about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line and always have maintained it.
"I guarantee it. 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. Period. Nobody gets treated differently when it comes to the Justice Department because nobody is above the law."
Even liberals couldn't believe what they were hearing. On MSNBC's Morning Joe program, the panelists were floored.
"It seemed ill-advised to say I got no connection to this but here's what I know about it and here's my conclusion," Bloomberg's Mark Halperin said. "In theory, he shouldn't really know the facts of the case."
"Campaigning for Hillary, may as well endorse her," co-host Mika Brzezinski said.
"It certainly felt like someone putting their finger on the scale for someone for whom the investigation has not been wrapped up," political commentator Nicolle Wallace said.
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