PBS anchor Judy Woodruff grilled Hillary Clinton over the infamous "tarmac meeting" her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch last summer days before FBI Director James Comey announced he wouldn't recommend charges against her over her use of a private email server. But Clinton wasn't having any of it.
What was she asked?
One of Clinton's main targets for excusing why she lost the presidential election last November has been Comey. She says the investigation, his letters to Congress less than two weeks before the election, and the scathing rebuke he gave of her on national TV last July contributed to a poor public perception of her, and therefore, her loss.
But is it really Comey's fault? Woodruff wanted to know.
"My question is: He was in the role he was in because Loretta Lynch had pulled back and essentially turned over the leading roll in overseeing the FBI's investigation into your emails because of that meeting on the airport tarmac with your husband. ... To what extent did Loretta Lynch and President Clinton make a costly mistake?" Woodruff asked.
Clinton, shaking her head, said:
- "Judy, I just don't buy that — I honestly reject that premise partly because there's a chain-of-command in the Justice Department."
- "The optics looked bad, I admit that."
- "What we know happened: The investigation was getting nowhere, there was nothing to find. And [Comey] was in a position of having to accept the evidence that there was no case."
- "I think what he did, against the advice of people around him in the FBI and the Justice Department, was in large measure due to political pressures that he was under from people that he had worked with before."
- "If you're a prosecutor or FBI director, if there's no case there's no case. And instead, he had a press conference and really went after not just me, but the entire state department."
- "[The press conference] was a breech of professional ethics and responsibility and rejection of protocols in the Justice Department."
- "What really was costly, and what I believe is the proximate cause of my defeat, was [Comey's] Oct. 28 letter, which has never been adequately explained or defended."
Woodruff tries again
After Clinton's diatribe about Comey, Woodruff circled back and questioned Clinton about the meeting again.
"But my point is he wouldn't have been in that position had Loretta Lynch not pulled back after that meeting with President Clinton," she explained.
"I, I just, Judy, I don't believe that," Clinton shot back, explaining the Justice Department's chain-of-command.
Watch the exchange below. The relevant portion begins around 2:15: