CNN's Baldwin Presses Karen Finney on Hillary Campaign's E-Mail Conspiracy Theory

Brooke Baldwin pursued Hillary Clinton flack Karen Finney on Thursday's CNN Newsroom over her campaign's conspiracy theory that the intelligence community's inspector general purposely leaked the latest revelation about the highly-classified information on Mrs. Clinton's server. When Finney cited unnamed officials who alleged that the I.G. "unfairly targeted Hillary Clinton," Baldwin interjected, "What would the motivation be for this inspector general to do this?" When the Democratic operative asserted that "they want to take down Hillary Clinton," the anchor twice asked, "What is your proof for that?" [video below]

Baldwin raised the issue of the former New York senator's e-mail scandal by quoting from Bloomberg View columnist John Rogin: "Intelligence officials, even inspectors general, are not immune from politics, both internal and partisan. But Clinton's team simply cannot prove that McCullough is leaking against them. Her campaign can only muddy the waters and delay until the FBI finishes its work. If the Clinton campaign decides then to go after the FBI, it will be picking a fight with an even more formidable opponent."

When the CNN journalist asked for her guest's response, Finney underlined that "this I.G. last summer asked for the Justice Department to do a review....That process is ongoing. So, it's sort of questionable why that I.G. would then continue to selectively leak information to Republican members of Congress — who, frankly, have already said, quite publicly, that their goal in all of this is to take down Hillary Clinton." Baldwin followed up by noting that "these were beyond top-secret e-mails....this is the most revealing, apparently, than before." The Clinton campaign spokeswoman denied that this was this case, and then went on the attack against the inspector general:

KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Some say these e-mails were innocuous. And remember that these are e-mails that, as the secretary of state said—

BROOKE BALDWIN: The inspector general says this

FINNEY: Well, that's one inspector general. There are others that say — that disagree. And, in fact, NBC News reported yesterday, there are others in the intelligence community who not only disagree, but they themselves — and this is not us saying this — this is, you know, insiders from the intelligence community — saying that this gentleman has — you know, unfairly targeted Hillary Clinton. So, I think there are these questions out there.

Baldwin then repeatedly asked Finney to cite her proof that the government official was collaborating with congressional Republicans. The guest just kept on repeating her talking points, and later changed the subject to Mrs. Clinton's apparent focus on winning the caucuses in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Karen Finney segment from the January 21, 2016 edition of CNN Newsroom:

Tell the Truth 2016

BROOKE BALDWIN:  On e-mails, let me just read this report. This is a quote from Bloomberg View's Josh Rogin, writing — quote, 'Intelligence officials, even inspectors general, are not immune from politics, both internal and partisan. But Clinton's team simply cannot prove that McCullough is leaking against them. Her campaign can only muddy the waters and delay until the FBI finishes its work. If the Clinton campaign decides then to go after the FBI, it will be picking a fight with an even more formidable opponent.' This is about the latest — obviously, you know — the dump; the revelations; the above — the super-top-secret classification; and the thought from the campaign that this was a conspiracy. Your response to that?

[CNN Graphic: "Clinton Camp Claims Conspiracy In Email Probe"]

KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: So, I'm going to make two points on that: number one, let's just point out that this I.G. last summer asked for the Justice Department to do a review. They started that last summer. That process is ongoing. So, it's sort of questionable why that I.G. would then continue to selectively leak information to Republican members of Congress — who, frankly, have already said, quite publicly, that their goal in all of this is to take down Hillary Clinton. One—

BALDWIN: These were beyond top-secret e-mails—

FINNEY: Well, no — I mean, there are some reports saying—

BALDWIN: This is — this is the most revealing, apparently, than before.

FINNEY: Some say these e-mails were innocuous. And remember that these are e-mails that, as the secretary of state said—

BALDWIN: The inspector general says this—

FINNEY: Well, that's one inspector general. There are others that say — that disagree. And, in fact, NBC News reported yesterday, there are others in the intelligence community who not only disagree, but they themselves — and this is not us saying this — this is, you know, insiders from the intelligence community — saying that this gentleman has — you know, unfairly targeted Hillary Clinton. So, I think there are these questions out there about—

BALDWIN: Why — what would the motivation be for this inspector general to do this?

FINNEY: They have made it very, very clear that this — they want to take down Hillary Clinton. They have said that.  I mean, they were very honest about it just before she went for 11 hours—

BALDWIN: But what is your proof for that?

FINNEY: Well, again, I'm asking the — why would you — if you have asked for a review of information, and that process is ongoing, why would you do anything to interfere with that or to distract from that?

BALDWIN: I understand your question — but, with all due respect, what's the proof? Where's the evidence?

[CNN Graphic: "Brushes off report her server contained classified intelligence"]

FINNEY: Again, I think the evidence is in the fact that we've continued to see this pattern; and again, the idea being it — you know, they're trying to stir the pot, and — you know — and that's fine. They can continue to do that, which is exactly what the secretary was saying.

We're going to keep focused on winning in Iowa; winning in New Hampshire. The race is tightening. So, we know that, obviously, Senator [Bernie] Sanders — his record is being more closely scrutinized. We raised today some very serious questions about his ideas on Iran — the idea of normalizing relations with Iran; the idea that we should send — ask Saudi Arabia and the Iranian troops to come together in a coalition — when they are mortal enemies?

BALDWIN: Okay—

FINNEY: I mean, there — you know — so, we're going to stay focused on our campaign, and making sure that people know, as I've said to you before—

BALDWIN: Yeah—

FINNEY: Why Hillary Clinton is the one who's going to deliver results.

BALDWIN: We will see her and the other candidates Monday night at our town hall. Karen Finney, thank you very much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center