Shock: MSNBC Allows Sanders Backer to Corner Hillary on Releasing Speech Transcripts

While there were plenty of questions from the far left at Thursday’s Clinton-Sanders Town Hall on MSNBC, there were a few that snuck through that pushed both candidates with two such exchanges involving Hillary Clinton being cornered in relation to polls about her honesty and trustworthiness and releasing transcripts of her speaking fees to Wall Street firms.

The exchange involving that latter topic was actually asked by a Bernie Sanders supporter who demanded around the 10:25 p.m. Eastern mark why she’s been “hesitant to release transcripts or audio/video recordings” of paid speeches she’s given “to the largest U.S. financial institution[s]” and be “transparent with the American people.”

After co-moderator Chuck Todd introduced Joe Sacko as Las Vegas realtor, Sacko told Clinton that he “know[s] how important the economy and the housing market is to our great nation” and thus: 

As a Democratic candidate who has delivered speeches to the largest U.S. financial institution in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, why are you hesitant to release transcripts or audio/video recordings of those meetings in order to be transparent with the American people regarding the promises and assurances that you have made to the big banks? 

Clinton pivoted to her claims that she had long been warning Wall Street about their excesses prior to the Great Recession but in pure Clinton fashion, she didn’t directly answer the question concerning her conduct but instead chided the behavior of others: “Let me say this, I am happy to release anything I have when everybody else the same because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders.”

The Sanders supporter then followed up (as other questioners did) by telling Clinton that he “respect[s] her very much” and even though he backed both Clinton and her husband over the years, he was heartbroken “when you said marriage was between a man and a woman.”

Tell the Truth 2016

Considering her flip-flops on marriage, Sacko zinged: “How can we trust that this isn't just more political rhetoric? Please just release those transcripts so that we know exactly where you stand.”

Roughly 20 minutes later, Todd alluded to exit polls in the previous primary states and her extremely low marks on trust and told her that if she plans to be elected in November and have a “successful” presidency, then she will “have to erase this trust deficit that you're dealing with right now.”

In response, Clinton complained hours after telling CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley that she’s never lied to the American people that she finds it “obviously troubling that people have questions about me, which I will do my best to answer.”

“Well, I've been around doing stuff. I've been around getting things that I believe will help people and that's what I'm going to keep doing,” Clinton added.

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Clinton-Sanders Town Hall on February 18 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Clinton-Sanders Town Hall
February 18, 2016
10:25 p.m. Eastern

CHUCK TODD:  Our next question comes from Joe Sacko. He’s a realtor here. He is a Sanders supporter. Mr. Sacko, go ahead with your question.

JOE SACKO: Secretary Clinton, as a realtor here in Nevada, I know how important the economy and the housing market is to our great nation. As a Democratic candidate who has delivered speeches to the largest U.S. financial institution in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, why are you hesitant to release transcripts or audio/video recordings of those meetings in order to be transparent with the American people regarding the promises and assurances that you have made to the big banks? 

HILLARY CLINTON: Let me say this, I am happy to release anything I have when everybody else the same because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders, but let me get to the heart of your question, I was the candidate who went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the candidate who went to them and said you are wrecking our economy, what you are doing with mortgages is going to bring us down. I called to end the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers. I called to reign in CEO pay. I now have the most effective and comprehensive plan to deal with the threats that Wall Street poses and I go further than Senator Sanders does because I want to go after all the other bad actors — the bad actors like hedge funds, the bad actors like A.I.G. — the insurance company, like Countrywide Mortage. I take a backseat to nobody in being very clear about what I will do to make sure Wall Street never crashes main street again and that you can count on. 

SACKO: Secretary Clinton, I do respect you very much. In fact, only a decade ago, I was a very, very big supporter of yourself and your husband. It actually broke my heart when you said marriage was between a man and a woman. How can we trust that this isn't just more political rhetoric? Please just release those transcripts so that we know exactly where you stand. 

CLINTON: Well, you know where I stand because I've been in public standing here the whole time, but let me say something about this. You know, I — like many Americans have evolved and I'm glad I have. I am a 100 percent supporter — I am absolutely adamant about protecting marriage equality and I think it's significant that the Human Rights Campaign, the leading organization in our country to ensure that the LGBT community has the rights they deserve have endorsed me. Now, your candidate said well, that's because they're a member of the establishment. Well, with all due respect they fight against the establishment every single day and I've been with them for years and I will pass the Equality Act too.

SACKO: Thank you.

(....)

10:45 p.m. Eastern

TODD: Madam Secretary, you probably saw the exit polls. What about this is trust deficit. 

CLINTON: I couldn’t hear you, Chuck.

TODD: I’m sorry. This issue, to be a successful president, you're going to have to erase this trust deficit that you're dealing with right now. You saw it out in New Hampshire. How do you deal with it? 

CLINTON: Well, look. You know, I've won one, he's won one. We’ve got 48 to go and that's why we're here in Nevada working as hard as we can and then to South Carolina and all the other states that come after. You know, look, I am absolutely focused on delivering results for people and any fair reading of what I've done since I went to work as a young lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund up until today shows I know how to do that. It is obviously troubling that people have questions about me, which I will do my best to answer, but I think they really come down to saying well, look, like this young woman asked me you've been around awhile, we've seen your face a long time, what does that actually mean? Well, I've been around doing stuff. I've been around getting things that I believe will help people and that's what I'm going to keep doing. You know, when I ran for the Senate in New York, people said the same thing, we can't trust her, we don't know her. I won and then when I ran again six years later, I was reelected with an even larger percentage of the vote because people saw me in action. So, people are really asking is: she in it for herself or is she in it for me? I've been somebody who believed and raised in my family and my faith that I, with my blessings, had an opportunity and obligation to do what I could to help others and that's what I'll do as president. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center