White House Walks Back President's Comments on Hillary Clinton's Private Emails

October 13, 2015

Josh Earnest was asked twice during Tuesday's White House press briefing if President Obama's comment on Hillary Clinton's personal email server was not a threat to national security.

The Wall Street Journal's Byron Tau first asked Earnest how Obama knew that Clinton's server was not a threat to national security. Tau pointed out that two inspectors general and the FBI disagreed with the statement. Earnest said the president was making a statement based off of what Clinton had said before.

Obama was asked by Steve Kroft in Sunday's 60 Minutes interview if he felt that Clinton's use of a personal email server was a threat to national security.

"I don't think that it posed a national security problem," Obama said. Earlier in the interview Obama had also said that he did not know about Clinton's personal email account during her time as secretary of state.

CNN'S Michelle Kosinki asked Earnest if the president was precluding the results of the FBI's investigation into Clinton's server.

"Absolutely not. The president has a healthy respect for the kinds of independent investigations that are conducted by inspectors general and, where necessary, by the FBI," Earnest said.

Kosinki asked Earnest why would he make a blanket statement on the issue if the president did respect the current investigation. Earnest stumbled around his answer by saying he did not have the exact transcript of the interview in front of him but said the president was answering the question based off the information that was currently available.

Earnest was again asked if Clinton's server was an impact on national security, but Earnest deferred to the FBI and said the president was only basing his answers off of what Clinton herself had previously said.

"Based on what has been made public and based on the public pronouncements of Secretary Clinton herself, that’s how the president arrived at the conclusion that this has not and does not pose a threat to national security. But obviously the FBI will take their own independent look at this. And for questions about the status of that investigation, I’d refer you to them," Earnest said.