Media Matters founder and Hillary Clinton flack David Brock struggled to defend the conduct of his boss under aggressive questioning from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Monday.
Brock, the former self-described "right-wing hitman" who underwent a massive political transformation in the late 1990s and became one of the Clintons' most rabid defenders, appeared on Morning Joe to promote his new book blasting the New York Times and other "perceived enemies" he insists are out to destroy the Clintons. The hot topic, of course, was Clinton's private email server, another "phony scandal" as Brock put it, that has sunk Clinton's numbers on honesty and trustworthiness.
"Are all the scandals involving the Clintons, quote, ‘fake scandals'?" Scarborough asked.
"Yeah sure," Brock said. "I take you through each one in this book, and I've dealt with the ones from the '90s in prior books, as you know. Look, nothing's been found. These are nothing-burgers."
A pregnant pause followed that obviously false statement before Harold Ford, Jr. went on to ask a question about the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the polls. Recent surveys show Sanders taking wide leads in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Brock blamed a "relentless campaign of distortion" about Clinton's emails for her suffering numbers, and he said he could not guess the "Republican playbook" would have led the email scandal to be a story for more than six months.
"It's not a Republican playbook," Scarborough protested. "You say it's a nothing-burger. If it's a nothing-burger, you attack the New York Times, you attack the FBI as well. Do you think the FBI is on a witch hunt against Hillary Clinton? Hillary will come out and say things that just aren't true. She'll say, ‘Well, gee, I didn't break any rules.' She did. There was a 2009 regulation—you talk to the Obama administration."
"We can agree to disagree," Brock said, to laughter from co-host Mika Brzezinski, who has been fiercely critical of Clinton's conduct and once asked Brock what "planet" he was on while spinning for Clinton on the show.
"When you're disagreeing with that, understand you're also disagreeing with people in the Obama administration that put the regulations out there that tell us she broke the rules," Scarborough said. "You're entitled to whatever you want to believe, but you are in a corner by yourself."
After Brock pointed to a Department of Justice report saying Clinton's decision to delete emails was appropriate, Scarborough asked Brock whether he would be ok with a hypothetical President Jeb Bush allowing a hypothetical Secretary of War Dick Cheney to use a private server and destroy it before investigators got to see it.
"Every employee in the government has the decision to make to classify work-related or personal," Brock said.
"And if they follow the 2009 regulation—" Scarborough said.
"Which she did," Brock said.
"No, she didn't," Scarborough said. "That is a matter of fact. Just a matter of fact. You're not even entitled to that opinion."
Then, Brock said "90 percent" of Clinton's emails were "there all along" since she was communicating with people with state.gov accounts, although he didn't back up that number with any evidence.
"90 percent of them probably were not there all along," Scarborough said. "We don't know what other emails she sent out. We don't know what emails she sent to foreign leaders … The regulation is clear, and they're supposed to back it up, and they're supposed to back it up by having it at the server at the department where they work. She didn't do that."
"But not in real time," Brock said.
"So that's the new twist?" Scarborough asked.
"No, they changed the law to say you have 20 days to do that, but that law was not in effect when Clinton was secretary," Brock replied.
The Washington Post, a different newspaper from the Grey Lady that Brock has declared war on, reported in May that "former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to have operated in violation of what the White House said Tuesday was ‘very specific guidance' that members of the Obama administration use government e-mail accounts to carry out official business."