Tuesday, on CNN, when asked about reports that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign appeared to communicate with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Clinton supporter Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) refused to acknowledge the emails were real or comment on them.
Partial transcript as follows:
BRIANNA KEILAR: Hillary Clinton has a bad story line of her own, and that is these emails, these hacked emails that appear to be from John Podesta’s email account. And one of the latest ones that we’ve seen has to do with the campaign communicating with the Justice Department about the releasing schedule of emails. I mean, that seems like — it seems a little untoward at the very least, that there was this communication between a campaign, and between a Justice Department that is supposed to be independent.
ISRAEL: Well, Brianna, in all fairness, the Russians have hacked emails. The Russians have decided that, if they could, they would endorse Donald Trump. They can’t endorse Donald Trump. They are trying to influence this election.
KEILAR: Okay, so look, Congressman, I’m going to stop you there, because — you don’t give them credibility. If they were fake, you don’t think the campaign would say they’re fake? So, you’re questioning the veracity of emails?
ISRAEL: I think we have a responsibility to understand all of these emails. I think that we have a responsibility to appreciate the fact these emails are hacked, that the Russians, quite frankly, have a history of doctoring this information. So, I want to see it before I comment on it.
KEILAR: Isn’t that sort of cynical for there to be this –.
KEILAR: Well, let me finish. Isn’t it somewhat cynical for Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton to sort of throw out there that perhaps these emails are not accurate, when we know that if they were inaccurate they would be telling us that they were faked, or they would be telling us that they were edited, to sort of — I mean, look, I get it. If they — these are emails that were hacked, but they’re still emails that exist. We can still read them and they are what they are. They tell us things. Isn’t it inappropriate that there was this communication between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department?
ISRAEL: Given the fact that the Russians have hacked into these systems, the DCCC, the DNC, that they have a history of doctoring these materials in other countries in order to influence elections, I believe that I have a responsibility not to judge emails, good or bad, until I understand, are these emails authentic? And so, I’m not going to comment on the specific emails until I understand its veracity.
KEILAR: Okay, so, emails aside, should the Clinton campaign, should a campaign be communicating with an independent Justice Department about something pertaining to the candidate doing something that was being investigated by the FBI?
ISRAEL: I — Brianna, with all due respect, I don’t know the context. I’m very suspicious of these emails, and would really counsel the American people, it’s not a campaign email versus email. It’s about fitness to serve.
KEILAR: But you know the contents. She was — you know the context, her practices were being looked at by the federal government. You know that context. You know that. Should a campaign be in touch with an independent Justice Department over that? And you do know the context. You know the sort of specifics of what was going on there.
ISRAEL: Again, Brianna, without understanding the full context, without having that information available to me, I’m not going to make a judgment. This campaign, the next several weeks, is about who is fit, and who is ready to be president of the United States. And if you contrast what Donald Trump has said and what he does, and what Hillary Clinton has said, her specific solutions to rebuild infrastructure, reduce college debt, improve the economy, there’s really no comparison.
KEILAR: All right. Congressman Steven Israel, thank you so much for joining us. Backing up your candidate big time there. Hillary Clinton supporter talking to us.
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