Appearing on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Wednesday, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer lectured the liberal journalist for daring to ask about the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal: "Either you're going to listen to her and believe her that, in fact, she complied with the spirit and the letter of the law or you're not going to trust anything she says....And all of this, I think, is politics. I think it is sad. And most people want to hear what Hillary Clinton has to say about the issues."
After Mitchell continued to press Boxer on the subject, the Senator proclaimed: "Let's move on to what's important the people here. This is really – and I have to say with all due respect, I used to be a reporter many years ago, reporters love confrontation. We could talk about this forever. The bottom line is, I know you know this, no law was broken....Let's get on with it."
In her lead question, Mitchell demanded: "In four years as secretary of state, using her Blackberry, her private Blackberry system or traveling around the world, is it credible that there was never anything – other than one e-mail of a conversation with an official in the U.K. – never any classified or foreign leader conversation on that Blackberry?"
On Monday, longtime Clinton adviser and apologist James Carville had a similarly contentious exchange with Mitchell, asserting that the whole controversy was caused by the press adopting right-wing propaganda.
Here is a transcript of Mitchell's March 11 exchange with Boxer:
12:08 PM ET
ANDREA MITCHELL: I wanted to ask you about Hillary Clinton, a former colleague of yours and someone you have supported over the years. The question about what she did and did not answer. First of all, classification. I wanted to play something for you of what she said about not disclosing any classified material, not storing any of it on her private e-mails. Let's watch this.
HILLARY CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material. So I'm certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.
MITCHELL: In four years as secretary of state, using her Blackberry, her private Blackberry system or traveling around the world, is it credible that there was never anything – other than one e-mail of a conversation with an official in the U.K. – never any classified or foreign leader conversation on that Blackberry?
SEN. BARBARA BOXER [D-CA]: Well, the State Department does not allow you to send any classified material. It would be captured right away.
So here's the deal, either you're going to listen to the Secretary of State, the former Secretary of State, or not. Either you're going to listen to her and believe her that, in fact, she complied with the spirit and the letter of the law or you're not going to trust anything she says. You're going to either believe Colin Powell that he didn't do anything wrong even though he destroyed all the e-mail. You're either going to believe Jeb Bush that he did nothing wrong with his private server, and Scott Walker, or you're not. And that's gonna be an issue that people are gonna have to decide.
She followed the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. That's what I believe. And all of this, I think, is politics. I think it is sad. And most people want to hear what Hillary Clinton has to say about the issues. I thought what she was spot on what she said about that Republican letter from the twenty-seven [sic] senators, which was very disruptive to a very important negotiation going on that would lead to a peaceful world if we get it done.
MITCHELL: Well, let me bring you back to the Clinton matter because I know you say it's a matter of trust, but-
BOXER: It is. It is with me, too. You could ask me, did I ever send classified information on my e-mail?
MITCHELL: Well, she was secretary of state. And I know you-
BOXER: Well, it doesn't matter. I'm a United States senator, the most senior member on Foreign Relations. I go to classified briefings all the time. I am telling you, I never sent an e-mail regarding classified information. Who would do that? Nobody would do that. I don't think anyone ever does that. We understand that. You know, we understand it. So either you believe her or you don't believe her. That's the bottom line.
MITCHELL: I don't know if you know this, the answer to this. You served with Hillary Clinton in the Senate.
BOXER: I sure did.
MITCHELL: And she said that she used her private e-mail system as a matter of convenience, that that's what she did when she went into the State Department. Did she ever use Senate.gov? Do you know whether she was on the Senate e-mail system when she was in the Senate?
BOXER: Well, frankly, none of us really use it. We have our own private e-mails. There is no rule here and most of us use our own private e-mails. I wouldn't know. I assume she did the same thing as most of us. There's no rule here. And so what she did when she got to her job is she followed the law and she chose to do it this way. As she said in a very open way, considering all the flap, "I should have done it a different way but it was completely allowable." Colin Powell didn't turn over one e-mail. Show me one Republican who is saying what he did was terrible. They operated under the same rules, under the same rules.
MITCHELL: Some of the rules were different when-
BOXER: Not really, not really.
MITCHELL: No, there was a rule that went into effect in 2009, there were subsequent rules.
BOXER: Well, we know that and she followed that rule, which was to make sure that for archival purposes all the official email was turned over. She's the first one that ever did that. The first one.
MITCHELL: Let me ask you about something that Rand Paul said this morning on the Today show.
SEN. RAND PAUL [R-KY]: She says there wasn't classified information, I'm not sure that can be trusted since we can't trust her to do the right thing the first time. And the thing about classified information, we're not talking about transmitting, necessarily, a document that's classified, but many of her investigations would be classified. So let's say I wanted to know tomorrow about all her conversations by e-mail with the President. I would think many of those would be classified, and yet, she says that she did these conversations on a private server.
MITCHELL: Senator, I know you've disputed that. You said that-
BOXER: Let me respond to Rand Paul.
MITCHELL: You said – no, let me-
BOXER: Let me respond to Rand Paul. He said he doesn't trust Hillary Clinton, someone he may be running against for the presidency. This is a shock. A lot of people don't trust Rand Paul. What does it prove? The bottom line is Rand Paul's gonna say what he did with his e-mails. Either you trust him or not. Hillary Clinton is gonna say what she did with hers.
Let's move on to what's important the people here. This is really – and I have to say with all due respect, I used to be a reporter many years ago, reporters love confrontation. We could talk about this forever. The bottom line is, I know you know this, no law was broken. She turned these over. She admitted that looking back on it she should have had two separate ways of writing her personal and her work e-mails. Let's get on with it. And if you don't believe her, don't vote for her. That's what I think. And if you believe her, then vote for her.
MITCHELL: That brings me to the final question. Should she now accelerate the rollout of this campaign because part of the problem, many inside Clinton people have been saying, is that she didn't have a campaign structure. You know, it's time already, announce the campaign, get structured, get people to respond. Rather than being neither here nor there.
BOXER: Well, Andrea, let me say something that you may or may not agree with. It doesn't matter whether she's in her campaign mode, she's out of her campaign mode. She's on the beach, she's on the Hill. People will go after Hillary Clinton for a number of reasons, usually quite partisan. It's the way it is. The Republicans fear her, they fear her candidacy, they're trying to ruin her candidacy. And it doesn't matter if she has a structure, if she doesn't. But the bottom line is, I'm ready for Hillary. I am. I am.
MITCHELL: Okay, Barbara Boxer. Thank you very much, Senator.
BOXER: Okay, sure.