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CNN’s Jake Tapper On Hillary and the Benghazi Investigation

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CNN’s Jake tapper joined me on Friday’s show:




HH: I begin this last day of the week with Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s The Lead. Jake, welcome back, good to talk to you.

JT: Can you hear me?

HH: Oh, I got you now.

JT: I’m on a cell phone, so I’m going to try and find a good place. Can you hear me now?

HH: Yeah, you’re perfect now. I saw you had Marco Rubio on this week, and I’m just wondering if off air you two discussed what you have in common, which is his Marlins and your Phillies are both 3-7?

JT: (laughing) No, but we did talk about sports, because as you know, Norm Braman is a big booster of Senator Rubio, and used to own the Philadelphia Eagles. So we did talk sports a little bit, but not about the record. Youi know, I was up in Philadelphia today doing, preparing for a story I’m doing on the Pope visiting. And look, it’s a rebuilding era for Philadelphia sports. Let’s just put it that way. It’s…

HH: Did you, did you have a chance to sit down with my buddy, Archbishop Chaput, who’s going to oversee that big deal?

JT: I did. I did. I talked to him at length. And we have a interview with him, and an interview with Mayor Nutter, Mayor Michael Nutter about this, which is going to be, as you know, a huge event, and the biggest, probably the biggest event in the history of the great city of Philadelphia.

HH: You know what’s an interesting part of American political history, Jake, before we get to the substance, Archbishop Chaput was the Archbishop of Denver when the Democrats held their convention in Denver. Now he’s the Archbishop of Philadelphia when the Democrats are holding their convention in Philadelphia. So I’m telling him that he’s got to start getting better at the prayers that he’s sending up, because it’s not working out very well. Hey, let’s go immediately…

JT: But Hugh, he was sent, as you know, he was sent to the Philadelphia Archdiocese to help clean up what was a very troubled Archdiocese, not just with the scandal having to do with sex abuse of children, but also having to do with some really bad finances. And he literally is doing the Lord’s work, trying to help out that community.

HH: He’s a wonderful man. I mean, he really is a good friend. I hope you were as charmed by him as most people are.

JT: Yeah, he was great.

HH: Now let’s go to the fact that since we last talked, Rand Paul’s in the race, Ted Cruz is in the race, Marco Rubio’s in the race, Mike Huckabee’s in the race, and Hillary Clinton. Let’s start with Hillary Clinton, Jake Tapper, were you impressed by the launch of her campaign?

JT: Well, I’m not impressed easily. I will say that I think that, I do think it is worth noting when a politician learns from mistakes of the past. And while not blameless or faultless, I think that fact that there was an attempt, and in the attempt, one could see an acknowledgement of mistakes from 2007-2008 that is worth remarking on, that it was, in many ways, a more humble attempt to reintroduce herself to voters in a state where she came in third place. That said, you know, obviously there are a lot of questions being launched by people in the media, by her erstwhile opponent, Martin O’Malley, governor, former governor of Maryland who wants to criticize her for now taking out more liberal positions on issues that where he has been for years. And obviously having sat down now with Marco Rubio, I’m eager to interview her as well.

HH: I’ll tell you, Jake Tapper, watching Hillary campaign is like watching me golf. People can do it, but it’s not much fun. And I’m telling you, it’s been a long week for people who’ve had to be on that trail. She came up, because Chairman Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi Committee, was on this show earlier this week. Let me play for you a cut of what Trey Gowdy said to me about the Benghazi investigation, and the former Secretary of State, cut number 19:

HH: Mr. Chairman, I’m not a prosecutor like you. I’m just a little administrative lawyer. And so I just need, I think you just said that she’d be subpoenaed if she did not meet your condition precedent. I just don’t want to misunderstand it. Is that a good reading of what you just said?

TG: We’re going to have to talk to her.

HH: All right.

TG: And I hope it does not come to the point of formal legal process, and I’ve got no indication from her that it would. But we are going to need to talk to her.

HH: So Jake Tapper, has anyone ever run for president in the middle of a Congressional investigation in which they are either going to be under oath or subpoenaed and be under oath?

JT: Not that I know of. Not that I can recall. I mean, you’re talking about American history, and I’m trying to think about like if anything happened during the Grant administration, which was of course riddled with all sorts of corruption. I can’t think of it, but at the same time, you know, if she is going to testify, I imagine that that’s going to be sooner rather than later. And if it is, and it might be behind closed doors as well. Is that not what Gowdy said?

HH: Yes, and in fact, I hope it is, because then they have no time limits. But it will be under oath. Here’s something he also said. I want to play 20 and 21 for you, again, complicating her campaign, cut number 20:

HH: Will your witness list include, either voluntarily or via subpoena, Cheryl Mills, the former Secretary of State’s chief of staff?

TG: Absolutely. And it was always going to include Ms. Mills, but if you studied the correspondence between the State Department and Secretary Clinton after she decided to return the public record to the public a couple of months ago, that correspondence was directed to Cheryl Mills. So Cheryl Mills needs to be talked to not only with respect to Benghazi, but also with respect to the retention of the public records by Secretary Clinton after she separated.

HH: And cut number 21:

HH: Will you be talking with, either voluntarily or via subpoena, Huma Abedin, one of the former Secretary of State’s senior aides during this period of time? Though she may have left the staff formally, she’s always been a second daughter to her.

TG: You have to if you want to write the final definitive accounting of what happened before, during and after Benghazi.

HH: Have you been in touch with her and made that request, yet?

TG: No, she would be in that group, that public group. We want to, when you get the witnesses on the ground, that, as you know from doing investigations and depositions, you build on the earlier work, and it creates better questions when you do get around to the Susan Rice’s, and the Mike Morrell’s and the Huma Abedin’s.

HH: I went on to ask him about Sid Blumenthal, Jake Tapper. He also said Sid will be subpoenaed if he doesn’t come in. So how do you run a campaign in the middle of this kind of sort of Watergate hearing atmosphere?

JT: Well, I mean, I think that we’ve seen Democrats talk about Republican overreach to a degree, and I think we’ve seen some examples of hyperbole by Republicans. And let me just say, and Hugh, you know that I covered Benghazi.

HH: Yup.

JT: And I think it is a legitimate news story.

HH: Yeah.

JT: I was covering it from the very beginning. My very first report on TV about it made it very clear that I did not, remember, early on, everybody was acting like Mitt Romney’s statement about it was the big scandal and not what happened. And I, you know, that has never been what, from the very beginning, I have thought this was a serious, serious issue. But I have to say that I don’t think anyone who is well-versed in what happened cannot come to the conclusion that some of the people trying to get answers were hindered by some of the people trying to score political points on this issue. And as somebody who really still does not understand why the requests for greater security in Libya were not met, and still does not understand why the State Department had dysfunctional at the very least process, I hope that Chairman Gowdy’s committee, and I’m not saying it isn’t, but I really hope that they really, truly, try to get to the bottom of this, and don’t make it easy for people who just want to dismiss all of this as nonsense. It bothers me, by the way, when I see journalists, whether it’s on Twitter or whatever, mockingly make jokes about Benghazi, you know, making fun of, in their view, they’re not making fun of Benghazi. They’re making fun of Republican overreach. But look, I think there’s a legitimate, there are many legitimate questions about what happened. But they are not helped by a lot of the conspiratorial craziness that’s surrounded this.

HH: But let me ask, Jake, with a minute left, when the server went missing, and the emails were selected by the former Secretary of State to be purged, I think that Trey Gowdy started, you know, I think the danger isn’t overreach here. He’s not overreaching. He’s just, he’s going to do this all quietly and behind closed doors. I just think it’s almost impossible for the Clinton campaign to plan how she’s going to run in the middle of hearings which obviously have legitimate precedent, and now a missing server and 30,000 purged emails. You get the last minute.

JT: Yeah, don’t get me wrong. I do not know one lawyer, I do not know one lawyer who understands, and maybe we’ll get an answer about this, but as of now I haven’t heard one, who understands why that serer would be wiped clean, why any attorney would ever recommend to anyone, much less somebody thinking about running for president. There are questions about these emails. You say you’ve turned them over. Go ahead and wipe your server clean. I’ve never heard, and I’ve talked to a lot of people, Democrats who are lawyers, who are in criminal defense or who have some several prosecutions, and I have yet to hear anyone say yeah, that makes sense, or I would give that advice. If anything, it’s the contrary.

HH: And that’s what to me is…

JT: So again, I’m not saying overreach is the issue.

HH: Yeah.

JT: I am saying I hope that there is, that we actually get answers to these questions, and it may be very difficult for people who don’t want to give answers to avoid, to continue to avoid doing so.

HH: Well said, Jake Tapper of CNN’s The Lead. Thank you, Jake.

End of interview.


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