Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton compared the FBI investigation into her handling of classified material on her private email server during her tenure as secretary of state to the investigations into the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks saying, “I think it’s pretty clear they’re grasping at straws and this will turn out the same.”
Partial transcript as follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You did have that surprise on Friday; the State Department saying they will not release 22 emails of yours deemed top secret. You want them released. Why are you so confident that release would not compromise national security? What do you know about those emails that we don’t?
CLINTON: Well, here’s what I know. I know that this is, I think, a continuation of the story that has been playing out for months. There is no classified marked information on those emails sent or received by me. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, who’s had a chance to review them, has said that this email chain did not originate with me and that there were no classification markings. So I do want them released and of course I can’t be clear about exactly what the reasons might be for some in the government, as part of this inter agency dispute, to make this request not to make them public. But I would like to see them disclosed and I think they can. It should be disclosed —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your supporters —
CLINTON: — that I’m told about them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: — your supporters including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, and Senator Feinstein herself, has suggested it’s political.Is that what you think?
CLINTON: Well, it’s — I’m going to leave that to others who are quite experienced in the ways of Washington to comment on. I just have to point out that the timing and some of the leaks that have led up to it are concerning. And I just want this matter resolved. The best way to resolve is to do what I asked months ago, release these, let the public see them and let’s move on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you’ve said many times that the emails were not marked classified. No evidence that that’s not true. But the non-disclosure agreement you signed as secretary of state said that that really is not that relevant. It says classified information is marked or unmarked classified and that all of your training to treat all of that sensitively and should know the difference.
CLINTON: Well, of course. And that’s exactly what I did. I take classified information very seriously. You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put onto an unclassified system, no matter what that system is. We were very specific about that and you — when you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain had thought that this was classified and that was not the case. The final thing I would say because clearly the best answer to all of this is release and disclose these materials is that what I’m told is that this chain of emails very well included a published newspaper report. That seems a little hard to understand, that we would be retroactively over classifying a public newspaper article. So let’s just get it out. Let’s see what it is and let the American people draw their own conclusions. This is very much like Benghazi, George. You know, the Republicans are going to continue to use it, beat up on me. I understand that. That’s the way they are. But after 11 hours of testimony, answering every single question, in public, which I have requested for many months, I think it’s pretty clear they’re grasping at straws and this will turn out —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally on this matter, you know, a few months back, you told my colleague, it was a mistake to set up this private server. Yet just this Monday, you said there was no error in judgment. How do you square those two statements?
CLINTON: Well, look, as I’ve said many times, it was permitted. My predecessors had engaged in a similar practice. It was not the best choice. I wouldn’t be here talking to you about it. I’d be talking about what people in Iowa are talking to me about, about affordable health care and jobs and rising wages and all of the concerns that are on their minds. And be, you know, really able to answer their questions as I have been now for so many months.
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