Hillary Rodham Clinton

Meet the Press Interview - Sept. 27, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton
September 27, 2015
Meet the Press
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CHUCK TODD: Good Sunday morning. And what a show we have for you today. Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, the speaker of the House resigning, Scott Walker dropped out, by the way, and we have our latest poll. And oh yes, the pope's in America. To quote the character Penny Lane in the great movie Almost Famous, "It's all happening." So let's start with our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton's lead over Bernie Sanders is now down to just seven points, 42 to 35. That includes Joe Biden in the race at 17. If you take Biden out of the mix, Ms. Clinton's lead stretches to 15 points, 53/38. So you see there, Biden takes a lot more from Secretary Clinton than Sanders.

But look at this. Back in June, Clinton's lead over Sanders was 60 points, six zero, 75 to 15. Quite a dramatic change in just three months. We'll have the Republican numbers later in the show. But let's get right to our first guest and a "Meet the Candidate" interview with the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us.

CLINTON: Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD: And a reminder, and I know there's always conspiracy theories out there, there are no limitations to this interview. You know?

CLINTON: As far as I know that's true.

CHUCK TODD: Exactly.

CLINTON: Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD: Exactly. So let's get that out of the way. Let me start with a piece of sound, it's Meet the Press. This is what you said on Meet the Press seven years ago about transparency.

(Begin Tape) Hillary Clinton (Archive): I want to have a much more transparent government. And I think we now have the tools to make that happen. I want to have as much information about the way our government operates on the internet. So the people who pay for it, the taxpayers of America can see that. (End Tape)

CHUCK TODD: A year later, ClintonEmail.com, this server started, private server. Had every government agency head did what you did, at the State Department, there would be a lot of information that wasn't in the public. Do you see that now as a problem as far as the public is concerned?

CLINTON: Well, Chuck, let me make a couple of points. First of all, as I have said very often, all of the emails that I sent were intended to be in the government systems if they were work related. That's why I sent them to people at their work addresses. And, you know, the vast majority of them ended up there.

So I have said also that if I had to do it all over again, I would've used a separate email account. I did it for convenience and it turned out not to be that at all. But the bottom line is, my emails were predominately in the State Department system or on other government servers. And then I said, "I'm going to give them all," after a very careful review, and I did so.

CHUCK TODD: All right. I want to unpack a couple of things here. But let me start with just the news of this week. You had said in a written statement under oath that you had turned over everything that you believed you had for the federal records with those 55,000 emails.

But we have now discovered an email chain between then General Petraeus and yourself that took place a couple of months before these records started. Can you explain the discrepancy there? Because it was the same email address that you used while at State that you were using with General Petraeus just two months before you had said everything was out there.

CLINTON: Well, everything that we had access to was certainly out there. And the reason we know about the email chain with General Petraeus is because it was on a government server. And so from my perspective, we have a very thorough review process that we conducted. And my attorneys supervised it, they went through everything. And what we had available at the time was turned over.

CHUCK TODD: But I guess what I'm trying to figure out is, if you'd said in March that the email system began in March of '09, and yet we have this same email address popping up in January, explain that discrepancy.

CLINTON: There was a transition period. You know, I wasn't that focused on my email account to be clear here.

CHUCK TODD: Well, let me stop you here. Because you say you weren't focused on it, except this seemed to be, to put an email server at your house is not a-- it's a complicated thing.

CLINTON: Yeah, but it was already there. It had been there for years. It is the system that my husband's personal office used when he got out of the White House. And so it was sitting there in the basement. It was not any trouble at all. I know there are a lot of people who are questioning that.

But the fact is that it was there, I added my account to it, it apparently took a little time to do that. And so there was about a month where I didn't have everything already on the server and we went back, tried to, you know, recover whatever we could recover. And I think it's also fair to say that, you know, there are some things about this that I just can't control.

I can't control the technical aspects of it. I'm not by any means a technical expert. I relied on people who were. And we have done everything we could in response to the State Department asking us to do this review because they asked all the former secretaries. And the reason they asked, Chuck, is because they found gaps in their own recordkeeping. You know, my assumption, because this system was there before I became secretary, it was there when I left, my assumption was anything that I sent to a .gov account would be captured.

CHUCK TODD: But, you know, that's very difficult to capture all of your emails by going through to perhaps thousands of people and their .gov accounts. It would've been a lot easier if it was sent to your .gov account.

CLINTON: Well, but when you communicate with people in other parts of the government, you're not sending it to TheStateDepartment.gov. And that would've been true either way. Look, I think I have done all that I can to, you know, take responsibility, to be as transparent as possible in turning over 55,000 pages, in turning over my server, and to, you know, testify on October 22nd, which I've been asking to do before the Congress.

CHUCK TODD: You had said just now in one of your explanations that you provided these records because State asked of all secretaries to tape. Now, as you know, there was a report earlier this week in The Washington Post that said, "That isn't quite how it happened." In the summer of 2014, they discovered the discrepancy with your records, and they wanted to make a request. And then it became a formal request of the last four secretaries of State. Can you explain that discrepancy?

CLINTON: Well, we have explained that. The campaign has explained it.

CHUCK TODD: What is it?

CLINTON: Well, look. When the committee, the, I think eighth or ninth committee, investigating Benghazi asked for information from the State Department, you know, they were doing a survey. And they found discrepancies in their recordkeeping. Not in my records, per se, but in their overall recordkeeping. There were gaps. And that's why they sent the letter.

And that's why we did the overall, you know, comprehensive search for everything. And it got us to the same place. We looked through everything. We gave them everything work related. In fact, we gave them so much, they've already told us they're sending back 1,200 because they were clearly personal and not work-related.

CHUCK TODD: Can you respond to an alternative explanation that has sort of circulating?

CLINTON: Another conspiracy theory?

CHUCK TODD: Well, that perhaps the reason you wanted to have a private server and not a government server is that Republicans have been coming after you for years, you might have been running for president in the future, and you wanted to make it a little more difficult for congressional investigators to subpoena your government emails and a little more difficult for Freedom of Information Act requests. Is that a fair theory or not?

CLINTON: It's totally ridiculous. That never crossed my mind. And in fact, since more than 90% of my work-related emails were on the system, they are subject to FOIA or any other request. That's how the Benghazi committee got the emails even before we, you know, went through our exhaustive process.

Now I have, as you're rightly pointing out, been involved from the receiving side in a lot of these accusations. In fact, as you might remember during the '90s, there were a bunch of them. And, you know, all of them turned out to be not true. That was the outcome. And when I ran for the Senate, the voters of New York, they overlooked all of that and they looked at my record, and they looked at what I would do for them, and I was elected senator after going through years of this kind of back and forth. And it is, you know, it's regrettable, but it's part of the system.

CHUCK TODD: You know, one of the things about this over the last six months, and I've heard from supporters, is that there's an allegation about your email server, the campaign provides an explanation, you provide an explanation, there's a new allegation, you have to provide a new explanation, there's an addendum to that explanation, it has the feel of a drip, drip, drip. Can you reassure Democrats that there's nothing else here?

CLINTON: Well, it is like a drip, drip, drip. And that's why I said, there's only so much that I can control. But what I have tried to do in explaining this is to provide more transparency and more information than anybody that I'm aware of who's ever served in the government, and I'm happy to do that because I want these questions to be answered.

I can't predict to you what the Republicans will come up with, what kind of, you know, charges or claims they might make. I have no control over that. I can only do the best I can to try to respond. The Justice Department has the emails, they have the server, they're conducting a security inquiry. They will take whatever necessary steps are required to get this matter resolved.

CHUCK TODD: Can you say with 100% certainty that the deleted emails that the F.B.I.'s not going to find anything in there that's going to cause you to have to explain again?

CLINTON: All I can tell you is that when my attorneys conducted this exhaustive process, I did not participate.


CLINTON: I didn't look at them.

CHUCK TODD: I would want to know what emails.


CHUCK TODD: Why wouldn't you want to know?

CLINTON: I wanted them to be as clear in their process as possible. I didn't want to be looking over their shoulder. If they thought it was work-related, it would go to the State Department. If not, then it would not. And as I just said, over 1,200 of the emails that we were overly inclusive in trying to be comprehensive, the State Department's already said, "We don't want these. These are personal. These aren't work-related." They're sending them back.

So when that process finished, you know, my attorney said, "Well, what do you want us to do with all these personal emails?" I said, "Well, I don't need to keep them. I don't need them or want them." So they then talked to the IT server, the technical people who were responsible for maintaining them and said, "You know, we don't need them anymore." That's the limit of my knowledge. And I know I was a little sarcastic in one exchange with the press.

CHUCK TODD: Fair enough.

CLINTON: For which I, you know, I'm sorry guys. But, you know, I'm not a technical expert. I just said, "I don't need them." Whatever happened to them happened to them. And I'm, you know, very sure that my attorneys did the most meticulous job that could've been done.

CHUCK TODD: I'm just curious, would anything having to do with the Clinton Foundation, would that have been personal or work?

CLINTON: Well, it would depend. You know, I did not communicate with the foundation. Other people in the State Department did. In accordance with the rules that had been adopted.

CHUCK TODD: So any of these deleted emails are not going to be foundation-related at all?

CLINTON: Well, they might be, you know, "There's going to be a meeting," or, "There's this." But not anything that relates to the work of the State Department. That was handled by, you know, the professionals and others in the State Department.

CHUCK TODD: All right. Let me sort of move on from this just a little bit. And I say sort of move on because obviously you've taken a hit in the polls.

CLINTON: I have.

CHUCK TODD: This New Hampshire poll, I mean, do you believe you have explained this and that there aren't any contradictions here. So is the issue not truthfulness, but the issue of how you've handled it?

CLINTON: Well, you know, let me say this, Chuck. I have tried to the best of my ability to be able to respond. And if people are uncertain, if they have concerns about these questions about the emails, it is their choice to say, "That's going to influence, you know, how I think about the election?" I understand that, I get it.

But I also hope people will look at my lifelong advocacy for kids and families and women and look at what I'm proposing, the vision I have for the country to move forward on everything from raising incomes, to equal pay for equal work, to getting the cost of college down, to dealing with high prescription drug costs. That's what I hope people focus on. And people get to make their minds up. That's the beauty of our process. People can decide on whatever basis they choose.

CHUCK TODD: Is this trust deficit, your husband did an interview on CNN. And he basically put it all on the Republicans and a little bit us on the press that this whole thing that has driven down your poll numbers. Do you bear any responsibility?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, you know, I love my husband, and you know, he does get upset when I am attacked. I totally get that. But we also get the fact that look, this is a contest. And it's fair game for people to raise whatever they choose to raise. As he said I think in that same interview, you know, "They're not giving this job away." You have to get out there, you have to earn it.

And that's what I'm trying to do. And of course I take responsibility. It was my choice. It was a mistake back when I did it. And I'm trying to do the best I can to answer all of the questions that people have. And as I said, during the '90s, I was subjected to the same kind of barrage. And it was, it seemed to be at the time, endless. And then when I ran for the Senate, people said, "Hey, we are more concerned about what you're going to do for us." And I trust the voters to make that decision this time around too.

CHUCK TODD: All right. I want to play a little comp we put together of some of the positions where your positions have changed a little bit. Take a look. (Begin Tape)

Hillary Clinton (Archive): So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interest of our nation. I've made it very clear that I made a mistake. Plain and simple. I believe that marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land.

We've not yet signed off on it, but we are inclined to do so. We're either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dependent on dirty oil from Canada. I oppose it and I oppose it because I don't think it's in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change. (End Tape)

CHUCK TODD: How do you respond to some critics who say, you know, "Your positions have changed out of political expediency." That you're sort of whatever the majority is at that time, that's the position you have.

CLINTON: Well, I just don't think that reflects either my assessment of issues, and I don't think it reflects how people who are thoughtful actually conduct their lives. I mean, if we don't learn, if we don't, you know, make decisions based on the best information we have available, well, you know, that's regrettable. And what I've always tried to do is to say, "Okay, what is the best decision that I can think about making?"

Now, with those that you did, you know, number one on the Iraq War vote, I've written about it, I've talked about it, I said it was a mistake. It certainly became a very clear mistake when you saw the way the Bush Administration conducted that war and the decisions that they made.

And so I have been very forthright in saying, you know, "As I looked at what was happening, it was a mistake." On same-sex marriage, like a lot of people, including our president, I did evolve. And I was not raised to even imagine this. And I'm thrilled now that it is the law of the land. And I have a lot of good friends who are now able to be married because of the changes we've made legally and constitutionally.

When it comes to Keystone, you know, I was at the beginning of the process of trying to evaluate what was the best outcome. I did feel that I shouldn't jump in before the president and Secretary Kerry and make my views known, because they're still in the middle of that process.

But it was, frankly, uncomfortable to have so many people asking me and my saying, you know, I'm waiting and waiting and waiting, and it still hasn't happened. I don't know when it will happen. It may have to happen when I'm president, I hope. So I've said, "Look, I'm against it." On the total evaluation, when I made that statement years ago, we did not have the kind of energy profile that we now have.

We did not have the full understanding of how the particular oil that would have been extracted from those tar sands was of a different degree of dirtiness and polluting in terms of greenhouse gasses. So, you know, I'm not going to sit here and tell people that I make up my mind. That's the Republicans. They make up their mind. They're never bothered by evidence.

CHUCK TODD: But Bernie Sanders has been on the, sort of, where you are on these issues, Bernie Sanders was there when it came to marriage 20 years ago. Do you think one of the reasons he's doing well right now is some progressives think, "Well, you know, what, he was there when it wasn't popular."

CLINTON: Well, he can speak for himself. And I certainly respect his views. I can just tell you that I am not someone who, you know, stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence or regardless of the way that I perceive what's happening in the world around me. And as I was saying, that's where the Republicans are.

You know, they're still believing in trickle-down economics even though it was a disaster not once, but twice for our country. So I want people, because I think my experience on these issues is much more reflective of how people talk to me, about how they too have evolved and moved in their understanding. And I feel, you know, very comfortable saying that.

CHUCK TODD: Well, I have a lot more questions. And the good news is, I have a part two interview we're going to do for the new show, my new show MTP Daily. So we will get into some foreign policy, domestic policy, a whole bunch of stuff. Madam Secretary, thanks for coming back on Meet the Press.

CLINTON: Thank you. Glad to be here. CHUCK TODD: Earlier, we shared our new numbers on the Democratic race from our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Now to where the Republican race stands this morning. And yes, things are getting tighter on that side of the aisle. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are essentially tied at the top, Trump at 21, Carson at 20. Then two more in double digits are Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina tied at third with 11%.

They're followed in high single digit by Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz. No one else. If you don't see your candidate there, it means they didn't even top 3%. And when you compare these numbers, by the way, to where we were in July, you can see that Carson, Rubio, and Kasich, all have doubled their support.

On the other hand, Bush and Cruz saw their support cut in half. And by the way, there's a name you don't see on the board at all. It was Scott Walker in July. Walker was in second place alone at 15%. And of course, he dropped out of the race less than a week ago. Another big change is for Carly Fiorina. She literally came from nothing. She was at zero, to where she is today, tied for third. And Carly Fiorina joins me right after the break.

CHUCK TODD: Welcome back, given her performance in the two Republican debates that Carly Fiorina has participated in, her rise in our new polls should not be a surprise and she joins me now after campaigning in Iowa this weekend. She's been in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Carly Fiorina, welcome back to Meet the Press.

Interview from http://www.nbc.com/meet-the-press/video/meet-the-press-sept-27-2015/2908707?onid=210121#vc210121=1.