Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while being questioned on whether Clinton Foundation donors got preferential treatment from Hillary Clinton’s State Department, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director and Hillary Clinton supporter Leon Panetta declared that it’s time to “move on” and to “focus on the issues that are facing the American people.”
Partial transcript as follows:
RADDATZ: We turn now to the Clinton campaign and another collection of embarrassing emails released this week. Republicans say they show improper relations between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s top aides at the State Department. The Clinton campaign and the State Department deny any wrong doing.I spoke earlier to former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and started our conversation with accusations based on those email, that a Clinton Foundation senior executive was asking top aides at the State Department for favors.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You know what — that’s that something obviously will continue the be looked at. But staff people trying to make connections in Washington is a pretty prevalent behavior by most people in Washington.
RADDATZ: You don’t see anything wrong with a billionaire businessman donating to the Foundation and then asking Clinton’s senior State Department aides for favors?
PANETTA: Well, I think the question is, whether anything was done in return for that kind of donation. And as far as I know, nobody’s been able to pin down that that actually happened.
RADDATZ: You know, her campaign implied this week it is all part of a right-wing conspiracy or a load of bull as Bill Clinton said Friday. Do you think there is a conspiracy against her?
PANETTA: No, I think it’s politics. It’s been politics for a long time. And, you know, opposing parties always going to make attacks. And you’ll make attacks on the other party. That’s part of the nature of the game. And I think they’ve been through it a lot. But on the other hand, I have always found both of them to be first and foremost committed to the country and doing what’s right for the country.
RADDATZ: And yet, these latest emails — and there were more this week that hadn’t been turned over to the State Department, play further into this notion that Americans don’t trust her. You have known the Clintons for decades. Have you ever or would you like to sit down with them and say, look, this looks bad. There’s got to be a different way to handle it?
PANETTA: Well, I think it’s important for them to acknowledge the mistakes that have been made and to then move on. But I would — I would frankly hope that the candidates would all focus on the issues that are facing the American people as we face another term for president of the United States. That’s really what this debate ought to be all about, not about emails or some of the screwed up statements Trump has made. I think we ought to be focusing on the issues.
RADDATZ: But Secretary Panetta, that is an issue, those emails are an issue. You heard what FBI Director Comey said, she was extremely careless.
PANETTA: Well, at the same time, they found no basis for any kind of action. And so, you know, it’s been investigated, no action has been taken by the Justice Department, and I really do think it’s time for the candidates and for the American people to move on and talk about the real issues that are going to affect us as we face the future.
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