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MSNBC’s Roberts: ‘I Don’t Understand’ Clinton’s Email Answers, They Have ‘Omissions’

MSNBC host Thomas Roberts stated that Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s answers on her email have “omissions” and argued Clinton wanted to avoid oversight by having a private email during a tense exchange with former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean on Monday.

After Dean stated that questions about Clinton’s email and server were “all hocus pocus, and mostly media pack journalism, and skillful manipulation by the Republicans. There’s no story there. She’s broken no law. She hasn’t broke any policy –.”

Roberts cut in to say, “On Friday, in an exclusive interview with Andrea Mitchell, she said, [paraphrasing] we were so busy, I didn’t think about it. I just didn’t think about it. Meanwhile, they paid privately, a person that they had worked with before, in the ’08 campaign, to set up a private server.They thought about it so much, that they privately paid someone to set up a public server. Now, if you’re not thinking about it, you say, ‘Okay, thanks for the Blackberry, thanks for my .gov address, where’s the plane? I’ll go. What’s the diplomatic mission?’ I don’t understand.”

Dean responded, “I’ll explain it very simply. Colin Powell had a private email address, so did previous [secretaries of state].” Roberts objected, “The server. How do you explain the server?”

After Dean asked, “What is to explain?” Roberts said he was simply curious about Clinton’s use of a private server. After some crosstalk, Roberts wondered, “why not sit down in that interview and say, ‘You know, the president and I are pretty unique Americans. We’re not special, but we’ve given a life to public service, and because of our email security, we thought it was best to not make the taxpayers pay for this. We set up a private server. We actually even paid the guy to do it, and it seemed to work for us. We didn’t break any laws, and we made sure that everything has been turned over now. Why not come out, instead of these omissions that we seem to be catching Clinton in on the back end?”

Dean then asked what Clinton was omitting, Roberts answered, “That they paid privately to set this up. That they thought about it so much that they paid him privately to set up a private server. Who does that?”

Dean countered, “I have a slightly different interpretation. And the interpretation is, this is a no-brainer. You’re married to president of the United States, of course you’re going to set up a private server. They didn’t think about it much, they just — they paid somebody to set it up. Of course they paid somebody. Do you think Bill Clinton knows how to set up a private server? This is ridiculous. Why are we talking about this? This is what’s going to go away between now and September and February. Because this is this is bupkis. This is nonsense. I think the press is serious about it and curious. It’s a press hatchet job, I have to say.”

Roberts countered that this was a “unique situation.” Dean cut in, “It’s not a unique situation. Colin Powell had a separate line as well.”

Roberts continued, “America doesn’t have a political couple that has devoted their life to public service like we have in the Clintons. And currently we have one of them who was the first lady, and then a senator, and then the sitting secretary of state, now running for president. This is very unique. And it’s only them that hold these unique positions. But for regular, everyday Americans, we don’t have the access or understanding of setting up a private server. So, I’m just wondering from a perspective of sitting down with Andrea Mitchell on Friday, and trying to wring it clean, to then on Saturday, we find out that [they] paid the guy privately, and that’s probably why he took the Fifth.”

Dean shot back, “What did you expect them to do? You expect the government to pay for this? I don’t get what your point is.”

Roberts responded, “Well, the point is, why would you pay someone that is already working for the State Department, to then come in, and privately set up and oversee your private system for four years, if you didn’t want to have complete control yourself at the back end? And that’s basically what this is.”

Dean responded, “This is your suspicion about [her] motives.” Roberts cut in, “No, it’s been proven to be true because they had the server for four years, and then she destroyed about 30,000 emails that they didn’t hand over because they deemed them not worthy to hand over. So this is operational — no operational oversight.”

After Dean countered that Clinton “had their lawyer do that.” Roberts asked, “Did she have oversight, as secretary of state, for her emails? Did she have any oversight?”

Dean answered, “Of course she did. First of all, the people who sent her emails, and the emails that she sent, not one of them was marked classified. Not one. They were being marked classified after the fact, but not one of them was marked classified at the time.”

Roberts objected, “I’m not even worried about classified or unclassified, I’m just worried — wondering who has the oversight, ever, of her emails? I mean, during the Obama administration, which is supposed to be the most transparent, most put-together one ever, who had the oversight of how she was communicating electronically? Her.”

Dean then stated, “She’s the secretary of state. She runs the State Department.” Roberts cut in, “Yes, cabinet-level tenure.” Which Dean agreed to, and Roberts followed up with, “So, she answered to nobody?”

Dean responded, “No, here’s why there’s a drip, drip, drip. First, it is which emails were personal? Second, is did she violate policy? You all said yes, she turned out not to. Did she violate the law? You said yes. No, then she turned out not to be. Was there a criminal investigation? The New York Times said yes, turned out not to be true. There’s a reason there’s a drip, drip, drip, is because every thing — time somebody says something, and makes an accusation that turns out not to be true, you all come in with another accusation. I think it’s outrageous, I think it’s unfair, I think it’s a media pack journalism, because you are insulted because you can’t find out every single thing that goes on in her personal life, and I think that’s unfortunate. That is the media reaction to all this stuff.”

Roberts said that he doesn’t want access to Clinton’s personal email, which Dean didn’t believe. Roberts continued, “as taxpayers, we deserve to have access and oversight to the government-related work that she was responsible for. And, unfortunately, we don’t have clean access to that, because that technically, and that oversight, doesn’t exist for the Americans. It doesn’t exist, for the american public.”

Dean stated, “I disagree with you. I think she had an attorney go through that to make sure that nothing –.” Roberts cut in to respond, “That’s great. The American people don’t need an attorney, from their secretary of state, in their emails.”

Dean then countered that Roberts was “taking the position the media always takes.” Roberts cut in, “She’s an attorney herself.”

Dean responded, “I think that’s in her own defense. So, you’re taking the position that — as the media always does, that everything should be in the public domain. There’s a Freedom of Information Act to decide what should and should not be in the public domain, and you frequently litigate it. … I think that this is a war between the media, who wants to find out everything about every candidate, and an individual, in this case Hillary Clinton, but it happens to all of us, who says there is a line at some point. Somebody gets to decide that, and it’s not you, hard as you — hard as the press may want to decide that, it isn’t the press’s job.”

Roberts then said, “No, it was Hillary Clinton’s. She decided she didn’t want oversight, and she didn’t have it. She declared not to have oversight, and she did no have it.” Dean objected that Clinton “decided you don’t deserve oversight into the personal details of her daughter’s wedding, and I don’t blame her for making that decision.” Roberts responded that no one would have access to that, or want even it. Dean re-iterated, “You’re complaining because you don’t have access. That’s what — those are the emails she destroyed.”

Roberts countered, “Well, that’s the assertion that you’re making, that there were 30,000 emails over Chelsea’s wedding? I mean, I know parents get crazy about weddings, but 30,000?”

Dean then said, “And lots of other things. Look, this — I think this is a legitimate point for debate, but the reason the media — the reason this is such a big deal is because the media has the megaphone on this one. She’s fighting back, it’s an uphill fight. She’s going to make it because there’s no there there.” And “I went through this myself. I know what this is like, and it’s no fun, because the media is there — is the personal arbitrator and beneficiary of any disclosure that she makes. She doesn’t feel, nor did I, that we have to make every disclosure. I mean, there were reports that I was having an affair while I was running for president, and this — and it got — it didn’t get into print or the mainstream because it was nonsense, but this is the kind of stuff that gets done. The media has an insatiable appetite. Somebody has to say no, and she said no, to certain things. So, that’s the point of contention because you think she should say yes to everything.”

Roberts again cut in, “I think you’re mischaracterizing what I was trying to get to here, and it’s just about the oversight issue for the American people, and I think that’s why we see the Clinton campaign getting a little tripped up over this.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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