Trump Campaign Responds To Results Of Hillary Clinton Email Probe
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
But is it really over? Is it really resolved? We're going to pose that question now to NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: What do you think?
LIASSON: Not over.
SIEGEL: Not over.
LIASSON: Not over, not over politically at all. Only a handful of extremely hopeful Democrats said that today. Most people on both sides of the aisle here are expecting this is going to dog her on the campaign trail. It certainly overshadowed her big day today, as you'll hear later in the program. She was campaigning for the first time side by side with President Obama.
But the email controversy is what is fueling her biggest problem, which is that she's seen as not honest and trustworthy by big majorities of voters. As a matter of fact, Donald Trump, who she's beating by a couple points nationally and in almost every battleground state poll, beats her on honesty and trustworthiness by 2 to 1 margins.
SIEGEL: Right after Comey's announcement, Trump put out a couple of tweets which said, among other things, crooked Hillary compromised our national security - no charges - wow. The system is rigged. In this case, there are other Republicans who are implying that there was something unfair about this.
LIASSON: Yes, this is one of the rare occasions when all the Republicans are singing off the same page. Donald Trump is - his concerns are being echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan who said, based upon the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Reince Priebus says that the FBI director has confirmed what we've long known - that Hillary Clinton spent the last six months looking into cameras, deliberately lying to the American people.
And you have Rudy Giuliani, of course a former prosecutor himself and a Trump supporter, disagreeing with Comey's legal conclusions, saying that a reasonable prosecutor would indict her, that extreme carelessness does meet the gross negligence standard even without intent.
LIASSON: He said intent is not required (inaudible).
LIASSON: Intent is not required - right. And so you're going to hear this and other things. I think the Republican response is going to take two tracks. The system is rigged, but also Hillary is dishonest. And that is the strongest character attack they can make on her, and I think this is going to continue. Donald Trump has said he would put her in jail if he was the president.
SIEGEL: We should just note that Rudy Giuliani, in addition to tweeting and saying that a reasonable prosecutor could have brought charges here - and he cited chapter and verse of federal law - he also then tweeted that Comey is an honorable man. He's known him for a long time, doesn't like the result of this process, but he thinks it was probably fair - the treatment of Hillary Clinton.
LIASSON: Well, that's where Republicans might diverge from Donald Trump a little bit. They're not necessarily saying the system is rigged. They want to focus on what they think is the most powerful, most damning part of this, which is that she has character problems, that Comey directly contradicted her description of how she used the emails and whether or not they were classified.
SIEGEL: Ever since Hillary Clinton's server, ever since we became aware of it, her political rivals, the Republicans, have gone after her for this. And as you say, Trump has said, you know, she should be disqualified; she should be in jail. Is there any traction with the public on this issue?
LIASSON: I think there might not be traction with the public on the specific matter of these emails, but there is plenty of traction with the public around her being dishonest and untrustworthy. That's her biggest problem. I think it's why the race is so close. If two-thirds of the American people think Donald Trump is not qualified to be president, she should be beating him by many, many points, but she's not. It's a relatively close race, and I think this is the reason for her sealing with the voters.
SIEGEL: So you would imagine that we'll hear more about this from the Republicans. Did we hear some Democrats rushing to her defense today?
LIASSON: We heard some Democrats rushing to her defense. One Democrat said, this is a pretty good news cycle for (laughter) Hillary Clinton because of course she had the big...
SIEGEL: There's an optimist for you.
LIASSON: ...The big stump speech with Barack Obama. And then there's others saying, look; the most important thing is that she is not facing a legal problem. An indictment would have been a game changer for her campaign, and that is what they're heaving at least a small sigh of relief over.
SIEGEL: OK, Mara, thanks.
LIASSON: Thank you.
SIEGEL: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.