But by seemingly trying to insulate himself should it turn out that Mrs. Clinton violated protocol or possibly broke the law, Mr. Obama once again has fed the growing belief that he is often ignorant of operations inside the federal government, said Lara Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University.
"Her biggest challenger is actually Barack Obama. Where his legacy ends is going to reflect on her," she said. "Right now, the president has had a series of what are perceived as foreign policy missteps. If Barack Obama's foreign policy is perceived as having not been successful there will be more questioning about her tenure there."