In appearances on Wednesday's CNN Tonight and Thursday's New Day, liberal CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein had words that should alarm any supporter of Hillary Clinton and give hope to any of her opponents as he described Democrats as "horrified" and "terrified" about the investigations into her home email server which he dubbed a "time bomb."
On Thursday morning, Bernstein declared that her problems are "about lying," and asserted that "people around the Clinton campaign" make known their view "in private" that Clinton set up the private email server in her home "for purposes of evading the Freedom of Information Act, evading subpoenas from Congress."
On Wednesday night, fellow panel member and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin comically tried to avoid accusing her of "lying" as he admitted to sounding like a lawyer: "I don't think that 'lying' is perhaps the -- is the right term. She was not -- this was a very confusing situation. She was not fully candid. Boy, I sound like a lawyer, don't I? I don't think it was a lie, but it was not an ideal way to present the -- what the story was."
On Wednesday about 10:34 p.m. ET, after host Don Lemon asked what the "implications" were of the State Department's just-concluded investigation, Bernstein went after Clinton's honesty as he began:
The implications of all of this are that Hillary Clinton did not want her emails subjected to the Freedom of Information Act or subpoenas from Congress, and that's why she set up a home brew server. I think we all know that. People around her will tell you that in private if you really get them behind a closed door.
I was in Washington this week. I spoke to a number of top Democratic officials, and they're terrified, including people at the White House, that her campaign is in freefall because of this distrust factor. And, indeed, Trump has a similar problem. But she's the one whose numbers are going south.
Moments later, Lemon turned to Toobin and posed: "Jeffrey, did she lie in her previous statements, quickly before I go to break here, about the emails?"
Toobin grasped for a choice of words as he responded:
I don't think that "lying" is perhaps the -- is the right term. She was not -- this was a very confusing situation. She was not fully candid. Boy, I sound like a lawyer, don't I? I don't think it was a lie, but it was not an ideal way to present the -- what the story was.
At about 8:21 a.m. ET on Thursday, New Day co-anchor Chris Cuomo asked, "What do you see in the latest information from the inspector general?"
The CNN commentator began his response:
That this is a devastating event for Hillary Clinton, it is a time bomb that has been ticking, and it's starting to explode around her, and there is more to come because the FBI's investigation is ongoing. She's probably almost definitely not going to be indicted, but this is much more than a legal matter.
Unlike his CNN colleague from the night before, Bernstein used the word "lying" as he added:
It's about lying. It's about she hasn't been truthful about this, and it goes to perceptions of her, that I spent the week in Washington talking to Democratic leaders, and they are horrified at what she's done to herself here, to her campaign, and the fact that she and Donald Trump seem to have some kind of equivalency among voters about who's the worst serial liar.That's devastating for Hillary Clinton, especially given Trump's record.
Co-host Alisyn Camerota then asked what he considered the "smoking gun" of the investigation, with Bernstein renewing his charge that she was deliberately trying to evade the Freedom of Information Act by having a home server:
The idea that the Secretary of State of the United States would set up a home brew server for purposes of evading the Freedom of Information Act, evading subpoenas from Congress. That's its real purpose -- to not have accountability, to not have transparency. It's consistent -- you see in my book that, you know, Hillary has been a great public servant in many, many regards over many years, but this problem about transparency and obfuscation -- as I say at the end of the book, she has had a difficult relationship with the truth going back to her Arkansas years. And here we are again.
Camerota then pushed back against his accusation:
You're extrapolating from the IG's report some of your conclusions. I mean, you're saying it was set up to avoid subpoena. That's not what the IG is saying, and, you know, she has always maintained all along that this was sort of for convenience and that previous Secretaries of State also used private email. So how are you reaching your conclusion?
The veteran journalist stood firm in his criticism of Clinton:
No, no previous Secretary of State set up a home brew server. And if you talk to people around the Clinton campaign very quietly, they will acknowledge to you -- if you are a reporter who knows some of the background -- that this is the purpose of it, is so that she would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act so that -- because the emails aren't there, nobody knew about this server. It is a reckless thing that she did. It's irresponsible. She's the chief officer of the foreign service of the United States, the Secretary of State, and she's hiding her emails in her basement. It's not a good thing.