Hillary Clinton supporter Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D., N.M.) was not prepared Wednesday for questions about the "quid pro quo" controversy embroiling the State Department and FBI, appearing to confuse the saga with the WikiLeaks hack of John Podesta’s emails.
The controversy came to light over the weekend, when newly released FBI documents showed that State Department official Patrick Kennedy "pressured" an FBI official into declassifying one of Clinton’s emails regarding Benghazi. In return, the FBI wanted the State Department to sign off on additional FBI personnel being sent to Iraq. The quid pro quo did not wind up occurring.
As he was asked about the allegations by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Lujan cited President Obama three straight times but gave no specifics to indicate he had any idea what she was talking about. Obama did briefly address the quid pro quo controversy on Tuesday, saying it was a non-story.
"How’s she going to approach that tonight?" Camerota asked. "What’s she going to say to voters?"
Lujan did not appear to have been briefed on the situation, as he tried to blame the Russians and their alleged role in the WikiLeaks hacks.
"Well, Alisyn, I agree with President Barack Obama that there’s no credibility associated with that assertion. And number two, let’s not forget that these emails came from a hack from a foreign state entity, namely the Russians, that’s been identified by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI," Lujan said.
Camerota cut over the congressman to remind him that this particular Clinton message had nothing to do with WikiLeaks.
"Hold on one second, Congressman," she said. "This one is from an actual Freedom of Information Act request. This isn’t part of the WikiLeaks dump that I’m talking about."
She explained the FBI released the exchange as part of a FOIA compliance.
"Well, again, whether we’re talking about the emails that came through the FOIA request or the other emails, President Obama I think said it best," Lujan said. "He said that there was no credibility associated with this assertion, and that’s what we’re seeing with this one."
Camerota sounded amused as she continued trying to explain to the confused surrogate what her question was about.
"The State Department and the FBI agree that this one did happen. This one did happen," she said. "I mean, they have both said there was no quid pro quo, but it did happen that Patrick Kennedy was asking for reclassification of an email."
"Look, again, I think President Obama, who’s closer to the intelligence than anything that I’ve been briefed on, said it best that the assertions here clearly show that there’s no wrongdoing," he said. "But look, there should never be questions asked associated with these types of things, and that’s where I am on this. With President Barack Obama’s response, I think he provided the clarity that was needed associated with the concerns with this particular email."
A similar situation happened Monday with former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean. Dean went on MSNBC and did not appear to know he would receive questions about the quid pro quo story, as he also tried to tie it to WikiLeaks.