DICKERSON: We’re going to get right to our lead guest, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Chappaqua, New York, this morning.
Good morning, Secretary Clinton.
I want to start with politics. We’re going to talk about a lot today, but let’s start with politics. A new NBC/”Wall Street Journal”/Marist poll says in Iowa it’s 48-45, you over Sanders. You were once way ahead. So, what’s happening?
CLINTON: Oh, John, you know these polls go up, they go down.
I stay pretty focused, as I think we all should, on what we have to do to build on the progress of the Obama administration, but go even further. And that’s why I have outlined a very significant agenda to raise wages and to take on the gun lobby and to be making America safe in every way that I can.
And those are some of the differences that I have with my primary opponents, and certainly very deep differences with all the Republicans running.
DICKERSON: This week, another batch of your e-mails were released by the State Department.
One of them is a back-and-forth between you and a staffer about a secure fax that won’t come through. And you directed him to — quote — “turn into non-paper with no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Aren’t you ordering him to violate the laws on handling classified material there?
CLINTON: No, not at all.
And as the State Department said just this week, that did not happen. And it never would have happened, because that’s just not the way I treated classified information. Headings are not classification notices. And so, oftentimes, we’re trying to get the best information we can.
And, obviously, what I’m asking for is whatever can be transmitted, if it doesn’t come through secure, to be transmitted on the unclassified system. So, no, there is nothing to that, like so much else that has been talked about in the last year.
DICKERSON: So, in no instance — what is striking about that particular e-mail is it suggests you were very facile with how to do this, this process. You knew the instructions about how to get around the restrictions for sending classified information.
So you’re saying there was never an instance, any other instance in which you did that?
CLINTON: No. And it wasn’t sent. So, I think this is another instance where what is common practice — namely, look, I need information. I had some points I had to make. And I was looking for a secure fax that could give me the whole picture.
But, oftentimes, there’s a lot of information that isn’t at all classified. So, whatever information can appropriately transmitted unclassified often was. That’s true for every agency in the government and who everybody does business with the government.
But the important point here is, I had great confidence, because I had worked with Jake Sullivan for years. He is the most meticulous, careful person you could possibly do business with. And he knew exactly what was and wasn’t appropriate.
And, in fact, as the State Department has said, there was no transmission of any classified information. So, it’s another effort by people looking for something to throw against the wall, as you said in the beginning of the program, to see what sticks. But there’s no there there.
DICKERSON: Well, this one is a little different, since the FBI is investigating this specific question of whether a classification was meddled with.
Let me ask you about another e-mail in this batch, which was one in which you seemed to express surprise that somebody e-mailed on their non-State Department personal e-mail, which is what you were doing. Why was that a surprise to you?
CLINTON: Well, I e-mailed two people on their government accounts, because I knew that all of that would be part of the government system.
And, indeed, the vast majority of all my e-mails are in the government system. So, that’s how I conducted the business. I was very clear about e-mailing anything having to do with business to people on their government accounts.
DICKERSON: On gun control this week, you have been pretty tough on Bernie Sanders, specifically on the question of legal protection to gun manufacturers.
He has now said that he would be interested in looking to changing the law to allow — to go after gun manufacturers who act irresponsibly. So, isn’t that what you want?
CLINTON: No, that’s not what I want. And that’s not what the country wants. And that’s not what President Obama called for. And I think he has been consistently refusing to say that he would vote to repeal this absolute immunity from any kind of responsibility or liability.
It’s the only industry in our country where we have given that kind of carte blanche to do whatever you want to do with no fear of legal consequences. You know, President Obama and I and Senator Sanders were all in the Senate at the same time. Two of us voted against what the NRA says was the most important piece of legislation in 20 years for the gun lobby. Senator Sanders voted with them, and through this morning has been unwilling to join the president and me in saying that this should be repealed. That has to be the effort that we all are behind. And he often says, well, look, I’m from Vermont and it’s different. It’s not like being in New York City.
Well, in fact, the other senator from Vermont, Senator Leahy, voted with President Obama and myself. So, I think that the excuses and efforts by Senator Sanders to avoid responsibility for this vote, which the NRA hailed as the most important in 20 years, points up a clear difference.
And it’s a difference that Democratic voters in our primary can take into account. Who is going to really stand up to the gun lobby, try to deal with the scourge of gun violence that takes 90 people’s lives a day? I’m pretty clear on what I will do. And I support and will work hard to implement what the president has been advocating.
DICKERSON: On Senator Sanders’ response, this idea that he represents a state which there are lot of gun owners, you were a senator. You — aren’t you sympathetic to that? You said you represented Wall Street, and that’s what shaped your views on certain Wall Street policy. And you have suggested that, as president, you would be different than you did as senator, when you were representing a state with a constituency.
DICKERSON: So, why isn’t it fair for Bernie Sanders to say, as president, I would be different than I would as a senator representing a state with a lot of gun owners?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think you have really mixed up two important issues here.
I have been consistent on gun lobby restrictions. In fact, I supported the Brady Bill. Senator Sanders voted against it five times. So, there is a very clear difference.
And when it comes to Wall Street, yes, I represented New York. And I was proud to do so. And I took on Wall Street. I’m the person who came out against derivatives. I’m the person who came out calling for restrictions on CEO pay, which, thankfully, got into the Dodd- Frank bill.
I’m the person who went to Wall Street and actually confronted them in 2007. I called them out on the role they were playing in the mortgage market. So, I do have a history of taking on what I consider to be the abuses that come from any industry, including Wall Street.
And I will continue to do so as president. And the proposal that I have put forth about how we rein in the excesses of Wall Street, so we never again face what we did in 2008, has been judged as being more comprehensive, tougher, more effective by Barney Frank, by Sherrod Brown, my friend from Ohio who leads the banking efforts in the Senate, and by Paul Krugman. So, I have plan that will go after not just the big banks, because Dodd-Frank has given us the tools to do a lot of that, but to go after the so-called shadow banking industry.
CLINTON: And I think I’m well-prepared. I know what needs to be done. It’s kind of like Nixon going to China, John.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator, let me ask you about a general election opponent you may face. That is Donald Trump.
You got into a pretty ugly exchange. You charged that he — you charged him with sexism, and then he put out an Instagram video of your husband and Monica Lewinsky. Your reaction to that?
CLINTON: Well, if he wants to engage in personal attacks from the past, that’s his prerogative. You know, so be it.
I’m going to draw the distinctions between where I stand and where he stands when it comes to equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, which affects two-thirds of the women, who are the ones receiving the minimum wage, protecting a woman’s right to make the most personal health care decisions.
That’s why I’m so proud to have the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that I received today in New Hampshire, because I’m going to fight as hard as I can against any efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, something that he supports.
So, there are very clear distinctions. He can say whatever he wants to about me. Let the voters judge that. But I am not going to let him or any of the other Republicans rip away the progress that women have made. It’s been too hard-fought-for. And I’m going to stand up and make it clear there’s a huge difference between us.
DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, what do you say, though, to those even in your own party who say that — a discussion of that portion of your husband’s career is fair game to talk about in an election?
CLINTON: Well, it’s been fair game going back to the Republicans for some years. They can do it again if they want to. That can be their choice as to how to run in this campaign. Didn’t work before. It won’t work again, because it is what people are focused on, not for the past, but for the future.
What are we going to do to get wages rising? What are we going to do to create more good jobs? What are we going to do keep rights? What are we going to do to make sure that the Supreme Court has people on it who will defend women’s rights, who will defend marriage equality, who will defend voter rights?
So, I can’t run anybody else’s campaign. They can say whatever they want. More power to them. I think it’s a dead end, blind alley for them, but let them go. I’m going to talk about the differences between us, because I think that’s what Americans care about. DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, I’m afraid we’re at a dead end ourselves and out of time. [laughter]
DICKERSON: Thanks so much for being with us.
CLINTON: Thanks. Let’s continue the conversation, John.
DICKERSON: See you out there.