Obama Administration Officials Distance Themselves From Hillary Clinton

March 10, 2015

The Obama administration is not doing much to assist embattled presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as she deals with an email scandal surrounding her tenure as Secretary of State.

In fact, since last year, various Obama administration officials–including the president himself–have distanced themselves from Clinton in public ways. Obama made headlines in November when he told This Week's George Stephanopoulos that a "number of other" Democratic candidates would make good presidents.

"I think the American people are going to want that new car smell," he said. "They want to drive something off the lot that doesn't have as much mileage as me."

Clinton's reported use of a private email account as Secretary of State has drawn fresh controversy, and Obama and various current and former deputies are not assisting Clinton as she faces charges of secrecy and recklessness.

Obama praised Clinton's work but told CBS that "the policy of my administration is to encourage transparency," while again saying he'd only first heard of this story through news reports, a frequent explanation of his.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also said Saturday that she never used a private email for work, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

"We were told specifically, in our department at least, that we needed to use government emails and even if you receive something on your private email that was professional, you needed to transfer it over to your government email and respond that way," she said.

Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett did not bother to defend Clinton at all in a Bloomberg interview, citing Obama's "very firm policy" on government email and refusing to answer whether Clinton broke that policy by referring the questioner to the State Department.

Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod, who both served under Obama during his first term and played key roles in his two campaigns, have criticized Clinton for the email controversy, taking foreign donations at the Clinton Foundation, and for an overall weak lead-up to her campaign.

On Today, Gibbs told Matt Lauer that Clinton's use of a private email account was "highly unusual" and couldn't think of any reason she could have to excuse it.

"I think this is another one of those things the Clinton campaign such as it is going to have to explain," Gibbs said on Meet the Press.

Gibbs also said the appearances of Clinton Foundation's acceptance of foreign donations, including from Middle Eastern countries with abysmal human rights records, were "awkward at best" and the next in a "slow roll" of headlines that were "concerning."

Axelrod, who helped Obama defeat Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary before he went on to win the general, has had harsh words for Clinton's pseudo-campaign.

"John Podesta has to get control of the Clinton operation," Axelrod said last month on Hardball, angering Clinton insiders after news of infighting between her super PACs.

Axelrod also said the "Ready for Hillary" group was more like "Ready for What?", adding that her campaign was again in danger of getting "out in front of any rationale for it" like in 2008.

"There's this cult of personality growing up, and that's dangerous and she's going to have to correct that," Axelrod told Yahoo in an interview.