Andrea Mitchell, Clinton Spox Agree: Benghazi Committee Politically Motivated
MITCHELL: “Hillary Clinton is preparing for a very big week. Some say this is a bigger test, the Benghazi hearing this week, than the debate was.”
PALMIERI: “I think the debate is more important in terms of her being able to have a big audience where she's talking about the problems that she sees people facing and the solutions that she has, people that she's met on the campaign trail that she would help. We think that was a bigger moment. She is looking forward to Thursday. She wants, you have heard her saying for many months she wants to answer all of the questions and move on. We do have concerns, obviously, about the political motivations from the formation of the committee to how it has operated, but she will be up there and she will answer every question that they have.”
MITCHELL: “Trey Gowdy, the chairman, had this to say.”
GOWDY: “Thursday is about what happened before, during and after and frankly, in secretary Clinton's defense, she's going to have a lot more information about the before than she is the during and the after. So I get that there's a presidential campaign going on. I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends shut up talking about things that you don't know anything about.”
MITCHELL: “Nick Merrill, one of your colleagues within the Clinton campaign, suggested last week when Huma Abedin was testifying, the fact that these former aide, Huma was part-time during this period, and non-aides like Sidney Blumenthal, as inappropriate as some of his communications may have been on the face of it, the fact that they were being called rather than the real players in the chain of command, was a real indication of where this committee's head was.”
PALMIERI: “It just doesn't add up why you would call someone like Huma and not some of the people that chuck mentioned on "Meet the press," the people from -- more people from the Pentagon if they are looking at decisions about what happened, what happened that night. So there are lots of reasons from what the majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, said to how the committee has operated, the people that they have called, the people that they haven't. That probably were more involved operationally in Benghazi. There's lots of reasons to doubt the intentions of this committee and them being political. But you know, she's looking forward to doing this. She wants to answer all these questions. We think once she is through Thursday, we are going to be done with this and she will have answered questions from all the media, she will have answered questions from the hill. This will be the eighth time the congressional committee has investigated this and it will be time to move on.”
MITCHELL: “Of course, you can't move on until the FBI closes its books on this case.”
PALMIERI: “Well, what the FBI is looking at is a security review. So that is something they will continue. We are happy to cooperate with that about the information over her e-mails being kept secure. But in terms of the politics of this and the questions she's answered and how she's dealt with this and having, you know, sat up there and answered every question this committee has on Benghazi and whatever else, we think that we will -- I think particularly the voters, as we have seen, you have seen evidence of this elsewhere, that are really ready to move on.”
MITCHELL: “Do you have any indication that that private server was hacked?”
MITCHELL: “We know there were attempts at phishing but any indication that anything was hacked?
MITCHELL: “Finally a quick question on gun control because the NRA on the weekend really went after her. Was she suggesting in her town hall meetings in New Hampshire on Friday, which she said she would look into the Australian system, was she suggesting confiscation of guns?
PALMIERI: “Of course not. She was -- what she was referring to is places where there have been mass shootings and the countries have done something. She has put forward a very common-sense proposal that would have background checks for everyone, that would remove the special protections the gun industry has from liability but it's all very common-sense measures the majority of the public supports.
MITCHELL: “Does she like the idea of buy-backs?”
PALMIERI: “Yes. A number of cities do that. It's been effective.”
MITCHELL: “Do you think she's going to be badly hurt by the NRA's opposition?”
PALMIERI: “I do not. She, as you have heard her discuss this, this is an issue she really cares passionately about. There is no reason why we can't be doing more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Most gun owners feel the same way. This is a fight she is very happy to have.”
MITCHELL: “Jen Palmieri, good to see you. Thanks very much.”
PALMIERI: “Great to be here.”