President Barack Obama defended Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton in an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” but said he would not interfere with the ongoing Justice Department and FBI investigation into her private email server.
“I can guarantee that,” Obama answered when asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if he would direct the Justice Department to treat Clinton as the evidence shows.
“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,” he said.
Wallace asked Obama if he can still stand by his previous claims that the emails did not jeopardize national security.
“I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security,” Obama said. “Now what I’ve also said … there’s a carelessness in terms of managing emails that she has owned and she recognizes. But I also think it is important to keep this in perspective.”
The President tried to distinguish between different levels of top secret — or classified information — as a means of defending Clinton.
“What I also know, because I handle a lot of classified information, is that there’s classified, and then there’s classified,” he said. “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.”
Obama said his former secretary of state saying she would “never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.”
“This is somebody whose 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,” he said.
Obama was also questioned by Wallace on criticism to his personal responses to terrorist attacks, citing the President calling the November terrorist attacks in Paris “a setback.”
“There isn’t a president who’s taken more terrorists off the field then me over the last seven and half years,” Obama said, defending himself.
“I’m the guy who calls the families or meets with them or hugs them or tries to comfort a mom or a dad or a husband or a kid after a terrorist attack. So let’s be very clear how much I prioritize this. This is my No. 1 job and we have been doing it effectively,” he said.
By Allie Malloy