Hillary Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri attempted to swat back strong accusations against the former secretary of state made by Bloomberg’s John Heilemann on Wednesday.
A day after Clinton’s testy exchange with Ed Henry over wiping all of her emails on the private server she used at the State Department, Palmieri often stuttered and stumbled through her defense of the Democratic frontrunner. A number of Democratic donors and Clinton allies have faulted the Clinton campaign’s response to the initial reports of wrongdoing, resulting in damaging coverage.
Heilemann pointed out Clinton’s assertion that the scandal would have been the same if she used a government email is not true.
"It’s also true the State Department email system was hacked by the Russians," Palmieri said.
The communications director insinuated that Clinton’s private server may have been safer to use than the government’s. She replied "not necessarily" when Heilemann alluded to the hack as a reason for concern that Clinton’s server could be even more vulnerable. The Bloomberg anchor also noted no one would know if Clinton’s server was compromised, unlike the government’s.
Palmieri asserted that Clinton and the campaign have kept the same line on classified material since March. Heilemann rebutted that they have changed their defense since classified material has been discovered to be stored on the server.
"Classified information, by definition, means that it is marked," Palmieri said.
Heilemann cited Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, which stated government officials, especially those at the top, are responsible for the information they handle and it is their obligation to make sure they do not store it in an unsecure place.
"We’ve seen government officials convicted for handling, including David Petreaus, convicted of crimes for handling classified material that was not marked classified," Heilemann said.
Heilemann pressed Palmieri on whether Clinton understood that material she handled could have later been deemed as classified, to which the aide said she did not understand the question.
"Then you don’t write anything down ever, you know," Palmieri said.
"It is against the law to have classified material in an unauthorized location, that is the case" Heilemann said. "This would be an argument to keep your material in an authorized location."
"That would suggest you can’t speak or ever write," Palmieri said. " People need to be able to work, they need to be able to communicate."
A common talking point for the Clinton campaign has been to point to Gov. Jeb Bush and previous secretaries to deflect on their actions.
"Neither have we seen any of the emails Governor Bush decided were personal," Palmieri said when Heilemann alleged the American public will never be able to see over 30,000 emails Clinton deleted.
Heilemann pushed back that the conversation was not about Bush, and Bush never handled information about national security.
Palmieri initially said Clinton did not order anyone in her staff to wipe her server, but rather only to delete any of the emails they deemed personal in nature. However, she walked back the statement while stuttering in confusion over the technical difference between deleting emails and wiping a server.
"That’s not the question I’m asking," Heilemann said. "You are saying she did not direct anyone to do more than merely delete the emails."
Palmieri responded, "I’m saying they had them go through it, and like, they deleted the emails."