Republican presidential candidates on Sunday said former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s defense about using her private email server make her unfit for the White House, using terms such as “cover-up” and “lies” regarding her remarks about having classified data in some emails.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said on ABC’s “This Week” that the Democratic presidential front-runner’s “lies” about the emails makes her a less-credible candidate for the Oval Office.
“It’s almost hard to believe. It strains credulity to accept that a secretary of state, who handled all of her communications on a home-brewed server, never passed classified information on her device and over that server,” Ms. Fiorina said. “Of course she did. And now we’re finding out that she did. As usual, the cover-up is worse than the crime.”
Former pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Mrs. Clinton exercised “bad judgment” by potentially allowing classified information to be available to enemies of the United States.
“Would you take someone with judgment like that and hand them the keys to the White House? I would not,” Mr. Carson said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence community have said that some of Mrs. Clinton’s emails contained classified information, and a review of her emails is under way.
Mrs. Clinton has maintained that she broke no laws and insisted when the story first broke that her server was not used for classified data — a claim now known to be false. The Clinton team has amended the defense to “not classified at the time.”
This weekend, Mrs. Clinton made light of the email scandal by joking in Iowa about her new Snapchat account.
“You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account,” she said. “I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”
She also, with a straighter face and echoing the Clintons scandal-handling strategy during the 1990s, called the entire furor a political game.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and presidential contender, said Mrs. Clinton’s explanations about her email — now the subject of an FBI investigation into whether classified information was compromised — were not “holding water.”
“She said she never passed classified information on the server. Now we know that is not true. There is a criminal investigation potentially afoot. Let the professionals do that,” he said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Mrs. Clinton turned over her emails two years after she left the State Department and after she decided which were work-related. She then scrubbed the server clean.
Mr. Graham specifically noted that the emails apparently included no mention of the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
“Is there not one email from Hillary Clinton or to Hillary Clinton about the attack on September the 11th or the week thereafter?” he asked. “If there’s no emails about Benghazi to her or from her, that just doesn’t sound right to me.”
Ms. Fiorina suggested that Mrs. Clinton has blood on her hands from Benghazi because she knew the attack was related to terrorism but did not acknowledge it publicly.
“What signal did that send to all the bad guys all over the world?” Ms. Fiorina said. “The signal it sent was, ‘Huh, open season. We can attack an embassy, murder four Americans and nothing is going to happen.’”
• Anjali Shastry can be reached at email@example.com.
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