CBS Misleadingly Suggests Clinton Emails Marked 'C' Not Actually 'Classified'

On CBS This Morning on Monday, at the end of a report recalling the notes the FBI released which document that Hillary Clinton claimed not to know that "(C)" markings in her emails indicated classified information at the level of "confidential," CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes misleadingly gave the impression that confidential emails are not classified as she made a point of correcting Donald Trump for mis-stating that the "(C)" stood for "classified."

A bit later, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared as a guest and similarly suggested that "confidential" information is not classified, CBS substitute host Josh Elliott seemed to accept her claim. But, on Friday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, liberal George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley informed viewers that "confidential" is the "lowest level of classification," with other levels being "secret" and "top secret."

On Monday's CBS This Morning, Cordes recounted some of the FBI's notes:

The FBI notes also reveal that Clinton told the agents she couldn't recall receiving any briefing or training on how to handle classified information as Secretary of State. When presented with a confidential email with the marking "C" next to the top of the paragraph, she speculated it was marked in alphabetical order, and she questioned the classification level.

A bit later, she read from a tweet in which Trump attacked Clinton on the matter:

In a tweet, Trump went after Clinton. "Lyin' Hillary Clinton told the FBI that she did not know the 'C' markings on documents stood for CLASSIFIED. How can this be happening?"

The CBS correspondent corrected Trump as she concluded her report, but failed to inform viewers that Trump was only partially wrong as the "(C)" still indicates a type of classified material. Cordes:

As to that Trump attack in that tweet where he said that it shows that Clinton clearly doesn't understand that "C" means classified, well, he's got his facts wrong, too, because the FBI director has said that that "C" stood for "confidential," not "classified."

Shortly after the 8:00 a.m. hour, substitute host Dana Jacobson read a brief in which she repeated that Clinton claimed not to realize that a "(C)" referred to information that was "confidential." Jacobson:

Agents also wrote "Clinton stated she did not know what the '(C)' meant at the beginning of paragraphs and speculated it was referencing paragraphs marking in alphabetical order." The "C" stood for "confidential."

Pelosi was then immediately introduced as a guest and repeated CBS's misleading references to "confidential" information as the House Democratic leader seemed to claim that "confidential" information was not really "classified" and then bragged about her history of sitting on the House Intelligence Committee to boost her credentials on the subject.

Substitute host Elliott began the segment by posing:

Congressman, let's start with that simple letter, that "C." Again, Secretary Clinton told the FBI she didn't know it stood for "confidential." How concerned then should voters be that a former Senator, a former Secretary of State didn't know what that "C" stood for?

Pelosi dismissed the importance of the damaging revelations as she began:

Well, the -- I think they shouldn't be that concerned. I think the Secretary of State deals with a large number of issues -- 30,000 emails we're talking about, a few that may have been marked "confidential." "Classified" really and "secret" and "highly sensitive" is where it becomes more problematic. But the fact is that whatever it is that Hillary Clinton dealt with in that manner had no threat to our security. And I think that too much is being made of this.

Without catching her incorrect suggestion that "confidential" was not really "classified," the CBS host followed up:

But she is nevertheless somebody that a majority of the electorate simply has said they do not trust. When she says on 39 separate occasions to the FBI that she cannot recall receiving any training with regard to monitoring and using her email for confidential information, how believable is that?

Below are transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, September 5, CBS This Morning:

7:09 a.m. ET

NANCY CORDES: Clinton tends to keep her press corps at arm's length, but that's going to be a little bit more difficult to do, starting today, because they will begin joining her on her new campaign plane. Take a look at it behind me. There is the new campaign slogan, "Stronger Together," on the tail, the campaign logo, that "H" that of course stands for "Hillary." If she does take questions today, however, a lot of them are going to be about the FBI's notes about their investigation into Clinton's server, released on Friday.

TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: She said it was a mistake and she's learned from it.

CORDES: Clinton's running mate repeated the campaign's line of defense this weekend after FBI notes showed that a Clinton computer specialist deleted a trove of her emails last year after a congressional committee ordered they be preserved. The FBI notes also reveal that Clinton told the agents she couldn't recall receiving any briefing or training on how to handle classified information as Secretary of State. When presented with a confidential email with the marking "C" next to the top of the paragraph, she speculated it was marked in alphabetical order, and she questioned the classification level. Kaine had this explanation:

KAINE: We look at so much material, unless it is specifically pulled out and identified, it is difficult to know sometimes whether a statement or a paragraph is classified or not.

CORDES: In a tweet, Trump went after Clinton. "Lyin' Hillary Clinton told the FBI that she did not know the 'C' markings on documents stood for CLASSIFIED. How can this be happening?"

The FBI also determined the FBI used up to 13 different devices to access her email, including eight blackberries, during her tenure. But agents could not examine them because none of her lawyers were able to locate any of these devices. Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence:

MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's just more evidence that Hillary Clinton is the most dishonest candidate for President of the United States since Richard Nixon.

CORDES: The FBI notes indicated that she wasn't the only Secretary of State who was wary of their emails becoming public record. In a 2009 email. Colin Powell told Clinton, "Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data."

That exchange contradicts what Powell told People Magazine last month when he says that he only sent Clinton a memo about his email practices about a year into her tenure. As to that Trump attack in that tweet where he said that it shows that Clinton clearly doesn't understand that "C" means classified, well, he's got his facts wrong, too, because the FBI director has said that that "C" stood for "confidential," not "classified."

(...)

8:05 a.m. ET

DANA JACOBSON: Only seven percent of voters we spoke to in battleground states think Hillary Clinton's answers on her email servers are getting more believable. The interview released notes from its interview with Clinton on Friday. According to the notes, Clinton told agents she could not recall receiving any briefing or training on how to handle classified information as Secretary of State. Agents also wrote "Clinton stated she did not know what the '(C)' meant at the beginning of paragraphs and speculated it was referencing paragraphs marking in alphabetical order." The "C" stood for "confidential."

JOSH ELLIOTT: Well, after a seven-week congressional recess, lawmakers do return to Washington tomorrow to tackle stalemates and partisan fights that were put on hold only for the summer. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi good enough to join us here in Studio 57. Good morning to you.

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Good morning.

ELLIOTT: Congressman, let's start with that simple letter, that "C." Again, Secretary Clinton told the FBI she didn't know it stood for "confidential." How concerned then should voters be that a former Senator, a former Secretary of State didn't know what that "C" stood for?

PELOSI: Well, the -- I think they shouldn't be that concerned. I think the Secretary of State deals with a large number of issues -- 30,000 emails we're talking about, a few that may have been marked "confidential." "Classified" really and "secret" and "highly sensitive" is where it becomes more problematic. But the fact is that whatever it is that Hillary Clinton dealt with in that manner had no threat to our security. And I think that too much is being made of this. Hillary Clinton is as talented and as informed and as knowledgeable a leader as we have seen in our country.

I think much too much is being made of this, and I say that as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee for years, for years. This really is much ado about something, but too much ado.

ELLIOTT: But she is nevertheless somebody that a majority of the electorate simply has said they do not trust. When she says on 39 separate occasions to the FBI that she cannot recall receiving any training with regard to monitoring and using her email for confidential information, how believable is that?

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