President Obama says Hillary Clinton showed a degree of “carelessness” in using a private email server as secretary of state, but never jeopardized national security.
“I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security,” Obama told “Fox News Sunday” in a wide-ranging interview. “What I’ve also said is that — and she has acknowledged — that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing e-mails, that she has owned, and she recognizes.”
The president said that there are varying degrees of classified material being handled in the upper reaches of government.
“What I also know, because I handle a lot of classified information, is that there are — there’s classified, and then there’s classified,” Obama 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.”
“But I also think it is important to keep this in perspective,” he continued. “This is somebody who has served her country for four years as secretary of state and did an outstanding job.”
Obama was also asked if he could guarantee the White House will not interfere with the ongoing FBI probe into Clinton’s handling of her emails.
“I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or FBI — not just in this case, but in any case,” the president said. “Period. Full stop. Nobody gets treated differently when it comes to the Justice Department. Because nobody is above the law.”
“I do not talk to the attorney general about pending investigations,” he said. “I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line and always have maintained it.”
During the interview — his first with “Fox News Sunday” since becoming president — Obama discussed the GOP response to Judge Merrick Garland, his Supreme Court nominee.
“Originally, the Republicans said they wouldn’t meet with him at all,” Obama said. “Now a number of them have already had meetings. And the questioning that they’re having privately with Judge Garland is something that should be done publicly, through a hearings process, so the American people can make their own assessment. But I recognize there’s pressure on the other side. Our goal is just to make sure that the Senate does its job and treats him fairly.”
The president also defended his response to the recent terror attack in Brussels, dismissing critics who said he should’ve curtailed his diplomatic trip to Cuba and Argentina and returned to the United States.
“In the wake of terrorist attacks, it has been my view consistently — that the job of the terrorists, in their minds, is to induce panic, induce fear, get societies to change who they are,” Obama said. “And what I’ve tried to communicate is, ‘You can’t change us. You can kill some of us, but we will hunt you down, and we will get you.’ And in the meantime, just as we did in Boston, after the marathon bombing, we’re going to go to a ball game.”
Obama was also asked what he considers his “worst mistake” in nearly two terms as president.
“Probably failing to plan for, the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya,” Obama said, referring to the 2011 U.S.-backed intervention that helped topple Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi but left the country in turmoil.
What does the president consider his biggest accomplishment?
“Saving the economy from a Great Depression,” he said.