A Democratic presidential debate took place on the same day as a federal judge ruled that a watchdog group could request testimony from Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides in connection with her private email server, and the candidate may soon be facing a subpoena to provide more information in a federal court, according to multiple media reports.
Chris Cuomo, CNN’s host for Tuesday night’s Democratic Town Hall event with voters in South Carolina, first told Clinton that “the late-night comedians love you,” because of the questions which persist regarding “trustworthiness” it was stated via a videoclip from comedian Stephen Colbert and an interview Clinton had with reporter Scott Pelley. (See CNN transcript here.)
Giving herself ‘wiggle room’
Said Pelley in the clip: “You know, in ’76, Jimmy Carter famously said, ‘I will not lie to you.'” And Clinton replied, “Uh-huh. Well, I have to tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state, to level with the American people.”
Pelley thought she might be giving herself “wiggle room.” He said to her then “[s]ome people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself,” but Clinton said “[w]ell, no, I…”
When Pelley interrupted with “[a]lmost always tried to,” Clinton answered “[n]o, I’ve always tried to…” but Pelley interrupted again. He said: “I mean, Jimmy Carter said, ‘I will never lie to you.'”
“You know,” answered Clinton, “you’re asking me to say, have I ever? I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will. I’m going to do the best I can to level with the American people.”
Comedian Colbert then asked in the clip “How can you be this bad at it? Just say no. Just say no. You’re running for president of the United States. Even — even Richard Nixon knew to say, ‘I am not a crook.’ He didn’t say, ‘It has always been my intention, as far as I believe, I will do the best I can not to be a crook.'” And then Colbert added that ‘[w]ill you lie?’ is the homerun of campaign questions. You just say, ‘No,’ and then touch all the bases,” he further advised to more laughter before the clip ended.
But back to the townhall questions. Host Cuomo said “[f]unny guy, serious topic. Is that a question that you’d like another shot at answering?”
Clinton answered “I’ll just say no.” The assemble crowd of voters applauds that answer.
‘Drip, drip, drip’ and federal judge ruling
But Cuomo wanted her to address the issue. “You know the universe of thought that this comes from. You’ve known it for a long time; you’ve dealt with it for a long time. And many of us have watched it. Today, a federal judge, as you know, issued on — a ruling on a motion that could pave the way for the possibility that you could be subpoenaed in order to obtain any information, whatever the details of this latest case, it’s what they call the drip, drip, drip theory of this. It doesn’t go away. What is your statement to democrats who are afraid that this, right, wrong, good, bad, it will not leave you in this race, and may now and going forward?”
Clinton answered that “[t]here just has been no basis for that, Chris. Look, I’m well aware of the drip, drip, drip. I’ve been in the public arena for 25 years, and have been the subject of a lot of ongoing attacks, and misinformation and all the rest of it. But, I can only tell you what the facts are, and the facts are that every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it’s proved to be nothing. And, this is no different than that.”
Clinton continues in her response. “I testified for 11 hours on the Benghazi committee, you know? People were really, you know, “My goodness, my goodness.” I told the truth, I testified under oath, and at the end, they had to say, well, there was nothing there. Here, I have turned over 55,000 pages of emails. Nobody in any cabinet position has ever been as transparent or open. I know there are, you know, challenges about what the State Department did or didn’t do. That’ll all be worked out. It is just not something that, you know, is going to have any lasting effect, and I am not at all worried about it.”
Sanders hits Clinton on ‘Goldman Sachs’ paid speeches
When asked by CNN host Cuomo about the “one delegate” which separates him from rival Democratic candidate Clinton, Senator Sanders said it was “mind-blowing.” His full answer, on what it means to him:
“Well, it is kind of mind-blowing, the progress that we’ve made over the last nine months. I mean you and I have been chatting for a long time. When it began, we were 3 percent in the polls. And to be honest, most people considered us a fringe campaign, never going to go anyplace. Today, in the national polls, we have closed the gap to single digits. Actually, one poll had us ahead. Uh, in Iowa, I was 50 points down. We ended in a virtual tie. In New Hampshire, 30 points down, we won. South Carolina — in Nevada, we were way, way down, came within 5 points. South Carolina, we started here in 7, 8 percent in the polls. We have narrowed that.”
Sanders believes that voters in America are responding to his message. “So I think, Chris, what it means to me is the American people are responding to our message that we have a corrupt campaign finance system in which billionaires today are buying elections and undermining American democracy. We have a rigged economy in which the ordinary people are working longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. And we have a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail today than any other country on Earth, largely African-American and largely Latino.
He also believes that the campaign is doing so well because people are upset with the establishment. “And what it means to me and why our campaign has been doing so well, I think people are saying enough with establishment politics and establishment economics. We need a political revolution in which millions of people come together and say, you know what? Our government belongs to all of us, not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.”
Clinton speeches, big banks
The CNN host then asked about the candidate’s “… sensitivity to the connection of Secretary Clinton to the big banks, to moneyed interests… ” and his use of a countdown clock until Clinton releases transcripts of her paid speeches. “But just as of yesterday,” said Cuomo, “you said, it has been 17 days, 16 hours, and 32 minutes since Hillary Clinton said she would look into releasing her paid speeches to Wall Street. Now Clinton says she will do that when other candidates release their transcripts of paid speeches. I know that you’re saying, ‘I don’t talk to the banks, I don’t have any,’ but you have done speeches that were paid before. Why don’t you go first, say, here are my transcripts…”
And then came some crosstalk between the two men. Cuomo saying “… if Secretary Clinton…” but Sanders fighting to be heard as well.
“That’s not a problem,” Sanders answered. “Look, I have not had a paid speech, it’s against the law to give paid speeches. I have given some speeches, the money was donated to charity. Way, way back I got a few dollars. If I can find the transcripts, I’d be very happy to do it. But what Secretary Clinton said, I will do it if other people do it, well, I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street. Here it is, Chris. There ain’t none.” Some in the crowd laugh, and Sanders adds “I don’t do that,” to applause then.
“I don’t get — I don’t get speaker’s fees from Goldman Sachs,” Sanders continued. “It’s not there. So I’m happy to do my best in releasing any of the speeches. It won’t be very shocking to anybody.”
Judicial Watch gets ‘major victory’
One of the media reports, regarding District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s ruling Tuesday, can be found over at the WashingtonFreeBeacon. Writer Alana Goodman states that Judge Sullivan “… granted a motion for discovery filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that is suing the U.S. State Department for records related to Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Judicial Watch is seeking information about whether Clinton and her aides intentionally dodged public records laws by using a private email server. The organization said it would ask to depose former State Department officials as part of the discovery process.”
Goodman quotes the president of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, as stating that the judge’s decision was “a major victory for the public’s right to know the truth about Hillary Clinton’s email system.” Fitton also believes that discovery will include “… testimony of current and former officials of the State Department…” but that would be subject to court approval. Among Clinton’s former State Department staff which may be questioned are Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s personal IT staffer Bryan Pagliano, and Huma Abedin.