Anderson Cooper did not lead off with a question for Hillary Clinton about her email problem. But it didn’t take long for the CNN host to get to this topic during the first debate for Democratic presidential candidates.
“I’ve taken responsibility for it, I did say it was a mistake,” Clinton told Cooper, before pivoting to a political defense. “This [Benghazi] committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee.” She pointed to the recent remark by almost-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who foolishly boasted publicly that the Benghazi investigation had driven down Clinton’s poll numbers.
When Cooper pointed out that there’s an FBI investigation into the matter, Clinton responded: “I never said it wasn’t legitimate. I’ve said I’ve answered all the questions. I think it would be really unfair not to look at the entire picture.”
After the New York Times broke a story about Clinton’s use of the private email server in March, she dismissed the email story as a distraction. In September, she acknowledged it but refused to apologize. After finally apologizing later that month, the Clinton campaign is now going on the offense. Recently, the campaign has been connecting the email story revelations to the politicized House subcommittee on Benghazi. That’s gotten even easier in recent days after a New York Times story featured claims from a former committee staffer that the committee is merely an orchestrated political attack on Clinton and overly fixated on the Clinton email issue at the expense of probing other aspects of the Benghazi attack.
Still, there has been a steady stream of email-related revelations, the most recent being an Associated Press story suggesting that Clinton’s private email server was connected to the internet in ways that made it easy for hackers to access. The story didn’t say that the server was accessed, but other recent reports have alleged that hackers in several other countries did attempt to break in. President Barack Obama told 60 Minutes‘ Steve Croft on Sunday that he didn’t think the server posed national security concerns. He did say that it was a mistake.
But at the debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, unprovoked, jumped in to defend Clinton. “The American people are sick and tired hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. “Enough of the emails.” And the obviously Democratic crowd cheered loudly.