Why the Hillary Clinton email controversy won't go away

Clinton makes excuses for using private email


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 11, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." Hillary Clinton finally faced the press about her e-mail scandal yesterday, but hardly anyone is satisfied with what she had to say. And the questions about what was in the thousands of personal e-mails that she deleted, some 32,000 of them -- well, that's far from over.

Earlier today, the AP sued the State Department to release e-mails and other government documents while Hillary was secretary of state. Now, the AP says the legal action comes after repeated requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act -- that they have been ignored.

Meanwhile, the AP's fact checker picked apart Hillary's excuses from yesterday's presser, and many of them just don't pass the smell test. Here are some examples.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material.


HANNITY: All right, according to the mainstream media, the AP, the fact check that they have, Hillary sidesteps the issue since some of the information that was exchanged might not technically be classified but could still be sensitive and may still violate rules for handling sensitive material.

Now, here's what Hillary said on the security of her private server.


CLINTON: It had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.


HANNITY: All right, the server may have been physically guarded by the Secret Service, but as the AP points out, she provided no evidence that it hadn't been compromised by hackers. And she did not disclose who administered the e-mail system. And if it was monitored and received software security updates, we didn't know about that, either.

Now, here's Hillary's excuse for not using a government e-mail address.


CLINTON: When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal e-mails instead of two.


HANNITY: Just one device. But guess what? Smartphones -- they're capable of having multiple e-mail accounts. And Hillary admitted that she used multiple devices just two weeks ago. Remember this?




CLINTON: iPhone.


CLINTON: OK, in full disclosure...


CLINTON: And a Blackberry. 

I have a -- you know, an iPad, a mini-iPad, an iPhone and a Blackberry.


HANNITY: Oh, four of them! And in her book, "Hard Choices," Hillary writes that she was dependent on her iPad, and sources tell Fox News that she used it even though the State Department would not certify that as a secure device. 

And Hillary also said she would not provide her personal e-mail. She won't provide it.


CLINTON: The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities. And the server will remain private.


HANNITY: All right, one itsy-bitsy problem. Bill Clinton's spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that the former president used e-mail only twice his life, his entire life, and both times was when he was president of the United States, long before the period in question.

Here with reaction, pollster Frank Luntz, senior political columnist at The National Journal Ron Fournier is with us, and National Review Online's columnist John Fund is with us.

All right, Ron, let me -- let me begin with you. I mean, when the AP is tearing you apart, The New York Times is going at you hard as they are, we have more questions than answers, what's your reaction to the flimsy excuses she was giving yesterday?

RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Well, the Associated Press -- as you know, I worked there for 20 years. The men and women who are working on that fact check are the best in the business, totally nonpartisan. They just try to get to the bottom of the story. And they got to the bottom of the story. 

The fact is, she went after a bunch of accusations, defended herself against a bunch of accusations that weren't really in play, created some strawmen, ducked the real issues and dissembled.

For example, she talked about how she had used her own e-mail and that was allowed by the State Department. Well, of course, that's the case.  The State Department has no problem with using your private e-mail. The problem is the statute requires, and common sense and transparency requires, that the e-mails, whether it's a government account or a personal account, if you're using it for work, it's got to be stored on the government server.

By her doing this rogue server in her basement or wherever, it gave her full control over documents that belong, in my opinion, to us. So now we have to take her word for it, and we're living in an era where we don't take anybody's word, let alone the former secretary of state.

HANNITY: And you said you don't think she looked any less presidential than yesterday. You really thought this went badly for her.

FOURNIER: Yes, look, I've known the Clintons, and frankly, admired the Clintons since the mid-'80s. I've been covering them for a long time, and I respect their commitment to public service. And I'm not a hater. I don't have an ideological problem with them either way. They have some great strengths.

But look it, they have some great weaknesses, and we saw them all on display yesterday -- a sense of entitlement, a sense of the ends justify the means, a sense of victimization, that, Everyone's out to get me, this paranoia. 

So I've always thought, ironically, that she would be a better president than her husband. I've thought that for years. Well, yesterday, I've never seen her look as unpresidential as she did at that news conference.

HANNITY: All right, Frank Luntz, let me juxtapose that press conference with what she said about the Bush administration and secret e- mails back in 2007. She had a very different opinion back then. Watch.


CLINTON: Our Constitution is being shredded. We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about the secret military tribunals, the secret White House e-mail accounts.

It is a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok!


HANNITY: Secrecy, corruption, cronyism run amok, Frank?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Well, first off, take a look at her, and you may want to show some video as I describe this. In watching her press conference, I was shocked at how little she looked up and how much she was looking down the entire time.

If you've studied human behavior like I have, that's someone who isn't speaking the truth. During almost the entire time, she was either looking at notes or looking away from the reporters who are asking her questions.

Second, is that this has happened now for 23 years, as Ron spoke of.  At a certain point, the American people say enough is enough. 

Third is that she's always gone on the attack, that she is, as she believes, her most effective when she's shredding somebody else. And she can't seem to handle it when it comes against her.

And finally, if you study James Carville, you'll know that he is at his most extreme and most crazy when he's trying to shoot down something that's real. Carville was out of control over the last 48 hours because he knows that his favorite person, Hillary Clinton, is in serious trouble.

HANNITY: I tend to agree with that analysis.

 John Fund, let's go back to her book, "Hard Choices." We have the audio version, and she talks, interestingly enough, about securing e-mails. Let's listen in.


CLINTON: When we traveled to sensitive places like Russia, we often received warnings from department security officials to leave our Blackberries, laptops, anything that communicated with the outside world, on the plane with their batteries removed to prevent foreign intelligence services from compromising them. Even in friendly settings, we conducted business under strict security precautions, taking care where and how we read secret material and used our technology.

One means of protecting material was to read it inside an opaque tent in a hotel room. In less well-equipped settings, we were told to improvise by reading sensitive material with a blanket over our head.


HANNITY: Even The New York Times recognizes that we won't have any assurances, A, she didn't receive classified material, and B, that this server was secured.

JOHN FUND, NATIONAL REVIEW: Hillary knew when she was secretary of state that she was running for president. She clearly put the political needs of running for president ahead of security protocols of secretary of state. Once again, politics before public service.

HANNITY: Yes. All right, Ron, let me go to the bigger issue. And you had some really interesting comments about follow the money. You know, we're going to get into this maybe with Kathleen Willey later. I think Hillary's trying to run, isn't it time for a woman to be president, she said last week.

OK, is Hillary that woman when she takes money from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and all these countries that have atrocious records, human rights for women? And we're talking about tens of millions of dollars. And she's never been critical of those countries?

FOURNIER: Yes, obviously, that cuts against a brand, if not being outright hypocritical. But I think the question's even bigger than that.  You know, because she has this rogue server, this off-the-book server, she now has total control of these documents. And among the decisions she's making on our behalf is what is private and what is public.

Well, what's her definition of private? Could it include, for example, e-mails about her family's charity? Does she consider that to be personal? Well, if that's the case, you know, we've had a lot of stories, a lot of investigative pieces about pay-for-play involving the donors and favors that they might get for donating to the Clinton Foundation.

If there's any fire behind that smoke, that's the kind of thing you would expect to see in e-mails.


FOURNIER: I don't know that it's there, but what I do know is I may not ever know because she has taken these e-mails off line.

FUND: And Sean, what's even worse is -- let's give her the benefit of the doubt. She made a mistake and she now realizes that she made a mistake. Well, the State Department asked for the e-mails. She deletes half of them. She sends the other half to the State Department.

She doesn't send them in e-mail form. She sends 110 of these. You can't search these. It will take months to figure out what's in them. She is actively thwarting an investigation of what is in her e-mails by just the way she sent them. You don't have to send it this way.

HANNITY: We're going to get into the conflicting statements she made, too. Frank, let me ask you this. There's also the missing gap question. She says she e-mails Bill. Bill only sent two e-mails. You know, any of these things -- you know, she said two weeks ago she uses four devices. So she contradicted herself, and it begins to look bad.

What is the long-term impact? Because some liberals are now openly talking about plan B, which would be Elizabeth Warren for them.

LUNTZ: So I'm going to take a point of view that might be contrary to what you might expect. But if conservatives want to make the most of this, as they have a right to do, they would do so by asking questions, rather than delivering accusations or delivering declaratives, that they would ask, "Do you trust Hillary Clinton? Does she have the integrity to be the next president of the United States? Is this the type of scandal that you want to be dealing with for the next four or eight years?"

If conservatives really want to take advantage of this -- and again, they have every right to do so -- they would do so more calmly and more quietly by asking questions that, quite frankly, she's either incapable or unwilling to answer.

HANNITY: All right, guys, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

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