Now that Hillary Clinton’s email server technician is cooperating with the FBI in its investigation into the mishandling of classified information, it’s worth taking a look back at all the times that the candidate and her surrogates have downplayed the probe or outright laughed at it.
The FBI seized control of Clinton’s server in August, just after the intelligence community’s inspector general flagged “Top Secret” emails that traversed the device. Clinton housed the server at her New York residence during her State Department tenure. She hired Bryan Pagliano, a staffer on her 2008 presidential campaign, to manage the system. She even got him at a job at the State Department as an information technology specialist.
Sometime late last year Pagliano began cooperating with FBI investigators in exchange for immunity. That suggests the possibility that criminal charges are on the table for Clinton or some of her State Department aides who sent her classified information that landed on the server.
But Clinton and her supporters have downplayed the FBI’s investigation — which the candidate has called a “security review.” Clinton herself has, at times, even attempted to laugh off questions about her email habits and the ongoing inquiry.
Here are some highlights:
On Aug. 5, Clinton campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney said during an interview with MSNBC that the FBI seizing control of Clinton’s server “really isn’t news.” She then pinned the growing interest in Clinton’s emails and her server on Republicans.
“We know that these attacks are going to come,” she said.
Finney appeared on CNN the next day and again faulted Republicans.
“This is a politically motivated series of attacks that we’ve seen,” she said. But she backtracked when asked whether the questions about Clinton’s emails were valid.
Later that month, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a devoted Clinton supporter, said that the questions raised about Clinton’s emails were “hooey.”
“I am far happier with the server in the custody of the Justice Department than in the custody of Trey Gowdy and the ridiculous farce that that has become,” the failed 2004 presidential candidate said on MSNBC.
“I don’t think that she’s going to get the blame for it because she didn’t know.”
David Brock, the head of the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record and one of the candidate’s biggest shills, said during a Sept. 14 interview on “Morning Joe” that the email investigation would soon go away and would be “put to bed.”
James Carville, the longtime Clinton loyalist and campaign adviser, said during an MSNBC interview in August that the FBI’s investigation is “not going to amount to a hill of beans.”
“Basically there’s almost zero chance that she did anything that was wrong,” Carville drawled.
Also in August, Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, offered perhaps the most blinkered defense of Clinton’s server and the FBI’s probe.
When asked by Bloomberg’s John Heilemann about whether Clinton or anyone who handled her server wiped information from it, Palmieri said it would be beneficial if they did.
“I think that’s the outcome they’d want because their concern is that the information is secure!” Palmieri said.
Last month, Clinton’s chief spokesman, Brian Fallon, downplayed the FBI’s investigation following the revelation that former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice had received classified information on their email accounts.
“I think a lot of the wind was taken out of this story last week based on the fact that the very same findings have been made with respect to Colin Powell. You tell me how they’re going to prosecute a case of any of these people when the same thing has been found of the Bush administration,” Fallon said.
What he declined to address is the fact that neither Powell nor Rice created homebrew email systems. Nor did they hire personal technicians to work at the State Department. Nor did they exclusively use personal email accounts.
And way back in April, a month after the Clinton email scandal broke, James Carville told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that there was “nothing wrong” with Clinton’s email habits and off-the-books email system.
“It’s not against the law, against regulations,” Carville asserted. “At the end of the day, I predict that this whole thing is going to amount to diddly-squat.”
Clinton’s surrogates aren’t the only ones to scoff at the FBI investigation.
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in October, Clinton broke into uproarious laughter when asked about the scandal and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ comments during a debate that month that “nobody cares about your damn emails.”
And on Aug. 14 at the Iowa Wing Ding dinner, Clinton uttered an unfortunate joke about scrubbing her server of all of its emails.
“By the way, you may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account,” Clinton told the crowd that night. “I love it, I love it, those messages disappear all by themselves.”
A few days later, Clinton made a wise crack when asked by reporters whether she had wiped her server clean.
“Like with a cloth or something?” Clinton joked.
But Clinton has responded more seriously in other venues. Such as on Jan. 17 when she expressed her extreme displeasure at CNN’s Jake Tapper when he asked her if she had been interviewed by the FBI.
“No,” is all the Democratic front-runner said, shaking her head with anger in her eyes.
And during a Jan. 24 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Clinton told host Chuck Todd that she was not concerned that the email scandal was hurting her campaign. She also took a shot at Republicans, accusing them of stoking the flames.
“No, I’m not concerned because I know what the facts are. I never sent or received any material marked classified. I cannot control what Republicans leak or what they’re contending,” Clinton said.