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The political danger of Clinton's FBI defense: 39 I don't knows

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"Could not recall" was perhaps the most common phrase used in the FBI's newly released notes of its July interview with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In the interview -- which helped the FBI conclude Clinton should not face any criminal charges for passing classified information through her private email -- the former Secretary of State repeatedly said that she could not remember key details related to handling of classified information while she was secretary of state. 

In all, the phrases "could not recall" or "remember" were used a combined 39 times.

Clinton suggests concussion caused memory loss

Specifically, Clinton told the FBI that she "could not recall any briefing or training by State related to the retention of federal records or handling classified information." Clinton also claimed she was unaware that the letter "C" next to one of the e-mails sent to her private server meant "Classified." 

Clinton also said she could not recall every briefing she received in early 2013 due to a concussion and subsequent blot clot she suffered in December 2012.


Clinton portraying Trump as 'amateur'

The revelations in the FBI's notes come at a time when Clinton is fending off calls from Donald Trump to release detailed medical records. Trump's surrogates have also recently been pushing unsubstantiated claims that Clinton is unwell.

The FBI's notes also coincide with Clinton's latest campaign tactic -- to portray her GOP rival in the fall election as an "amateur." 

"Diplomacy is not for amateurs," Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine said in a Thursday interview. 

'Could not recall' a common answer in depositions

But the release of the FBI's interview notes is also a good reminder that what often makes a good legal defense can have consequences in the political world.

Adam Goldberg, who once served as White House special associate counsel to President Bill Clinton, told Circa that the best legal defense in depositions is usually to claim ignorance.

Trump uses the defense often, too 

"Whenever you're deposed, you're told, 'Don't say you know something unless you're really sure of the answer," Goldberg said. "[Because] you could be implicating something, and you could be completely wrong."

Indeed, Donald Trump has used the "I don't know" defense frequently in depositions. Earlier this summer while being deposed in a lawsuit over Trump University, he said he could not remember claiming to have the world's greatest memory.

Trump still hitting Clinton hard on FBI report

Trump issued this statement after the release of Clinton's interview notes with the FBI:

"Hillary Clinton's answers to the FBI about her private email server defy belief. I was absolutely shocked to see that her answers to the FBI stood in direct contradiction to what she told the American people. After reading these documents, I really don't understand how she was able to get away from prosecution."

Clinton camp says nothing amiss

In a statement to Circa, Hillary For America National Press Secretary Brian Fallon said they were "pleased" that the FBI had released the notes.

"While her use of a single email account was clearly a mistake and she has taken responsibility for it, these materials make clear why the Justice Department believed there was no basis to move forward with this case."

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