Watch James Rosen Grill Josh Earnest on Endorsements, Sanders Comments, Hillary’s E-Mails

Fox News reporters and a select number of others have been known to grill White House Press Secretaries in the Obama years and Thursday saw another installment as the Fox News Channel’s chief Washington correspondent James Rosen hammered current Press Secretary Josh Earnest on subjects ranging from President Obama’s Hillary Clinton endorsement to her e-mail scandal.

While other reporters were lobbing softballs about the President’s eagerness to get back on the campaign trail, Rosen began his time by wondering if the President still had “confidence in Debbie Wasserman Schultz to maintain her position through the end of this cycle.” [NOTE: The video below was pulled from MSNBC since FNC only showed one small excerpt]

Earnest replied that the President was indeed proud of Wasserman Schultz and supportive, so Rosen asked two campaign questions with the first concerning whether or not the President planned to endorse anyone other than Clinton and the other dealt with their first joint stop being in Wisconsin. 

It was at this point the exchanges grew rather intriguing as Rosen explained to Earnest that Sanders stated after his meeting with the President that the U.S. is on the verge of becoming an oligarchy. That being said, Rosen wondered if the President concurred:

You just stated at the podium just now that you believe there's a strong case to be made for the President’s economic stewardship over the course of the last seven and a half years. Senator Sanders, in his statement in the White House driveway today, painted a very different picture. Senator Sanders said that the United States right now is drifting toward oligarchy. Does the President agree with that?

When Earnest emphasized that “the President certainly agrees that there is more work to be done to address increasing economic inequality in this country,” Rosen pushed back twice to no avail as Earnest repeated the same tune.

The conversation turned to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal and, clearly, Rosen was ready to drop the hammer by raising concerns about the President’s endorsement presenting a conflict of interest since his executive branch (specifically the FBI) is investigating Clinton [emphasis mine]:

Previously, the President has used one public comment or another to comment on the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton and her e-mail conduct. At one point, he stated that as far as he could see, there was no real damage to national security. You yourself, from this podium, have suggested that the investigation wasn't trending toward any focus on Mrs. Clinton herself. I wonder if you could address for us the potential conflict of interest that might exist when the President of the United States, the head of the executive branch, is openly saying I want this woman to succeed me in the Oval Office and you have other employees of the executive branch, career prosecutors, FBI agents, working this case who have now just heard how the President wants to see this case resolved in essence. Isn't there some conflict there? 

Earnest naturally opined that there’s not any conflict of interest because both he and “the President made clear that investigation is one that is being conducted independent of any political interference.” 

The reporter who exposed the State Department’s video editing scandal pressed again when Earnest promised that the President isn’t essentially putting his thumb on the scales of justice:

So when a career prosecutor or an FBI agent working on the Clinton investigation hears this President speak openly about how he wants Hillary Clinton to succeed him, you don't think that that career prosecutor or that FBI agent takes that as some indication as to how the President wants to see this case resolved?

Earnest largely filibustered Rosen with another lengthy answer that stated little to nothing new from the first, so Rosen ended with brief exchange on whether Obama has spoken to Clinton the investigation of her e-mails:

ROSEN: To your knowledge, has President Obama ever discussed the Department of Justice investigation with Mrs. Clinton? 

EARNEST: He has not. He has not.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the White House Press Briefing on June 9 can be found below.

White House Daily Press Briefing
June 9, 2016
2:52 p.m. Eastern

JAMES ROSEN: Does the President have confidence in Debbie Wasserman Schultz to maintain her position through the end of this cycle? 

(....)

ROSEN: Was there ever any point where the President ever considered endorsing anyone other than Hillary Clinton? 

EARNEST: As I alluded to, I'm not aware that the President was — ever changed his mind in the course of the Democratic primary. 

ROSEN: You mentioned earlier that President Obama carried Wisconsin twice in a row. Why shouldn't we interpret the President's decision to campaign there with Hillary Clinton as his first outing as a sign of weakness on the part of the Democratic ticket since they're going to be campaigning in a state whereby all accounts they should be easily able to retain that state. 

EARNEST: The President had to compete for Wisconsin both in 2008 and in 2012. Those were hard-fought elections, but both times he came out on top, so I would anticipate a similar outcome in 2016. 

ROSEN: Two more things really quickly. You just stated at the podium just now that you believe there's a strong case to be made for the President’s economic stewardship over the course of the last seven and a half years. Senator Sanders, in his statement in the White House driveway today, painted a very different picture. Senator Sanders said that the United States right now is drifting toward oligarchy. Does the president agree with that? 

EARNEST: Well, I think that the President certainly agrees that there is more work to be done to address increasing economic inequality in this country.

ROSEN: Are we drifting toward oligarchy? 

EARNEST: Well, listen, those are Senator Sanders’s words. 

ROSEN: I'm asking if you agree. 

EARNEST: Well, I think that what the President agrees with is the notion that there's more that can be done to fight economic inequality in this country and the President’s put forward some very specific ideas for how to do that. Unfortunately, many of those ideas have been blocked by Republicans in Congress. 

(....)

ROSEN: Presumably, if you or the President agreed that we are presently drifting toward oligarchy, you would have said so in response to my questions? 

EARNEST: Well, I guess, those are Senator Sanders’s words and I'm using my own to convey our view. 

ROSEN: Last subject matter. Previously, the President has used one public comment or another to comment on the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton and her e-mail conduct. At one point, he stated that as far as he could see, there was no real damage to national security. You yourself, from this podium, have suggested that the investigation wasn't trending toward any focus on Mrs. Clinton herself. I wonder if you could address for us the potential conflict of interest that might exist when the President of the United States, the head of the executive branch, is openly saying I want this woman to succeed me in the Oval Office and you have other employees of the executive branch, career prosecutors, FBI agents, working this case who have now just heard how the President wants to see this case resolved in essence. Isn't there some conflict there? 

EARNEST: James, there's not. You noted a couple instances where the President had asked about the FBI investigations and in each of those answers, the President made clear that investigation is one that is being conducted independent of any political interference. That is a principle that the President is resolutely committed. You mention my comments. My comments were actually also in response to a question and were a reference to a published reports of comments from FBI officials that — about the direction of the — of the investigation. But, look, the reason that the President feels confident that he can go out and make this endorsement and record a video in which he describes his strong support for Secretary Clinton's campaign is that he knows the people who are conducting the investigation aren't going to be swayed by any sort of political interference.

(....)

ROSEN: So when a career prosecutor or an FBI agent working on the Clinton investigation hears this President speak openly about how he wants Hillary Clinton to succeed him, you don't think they take that that career prosecutor or that FBI agent takes that as some indication as to how the President wants to see this case resolved? 

EARNEST: No. I think that those career prosecutors understand that they have a job to do, and that that job they are supposed to do — which is to follow the facts, to pursue the evidence to a logical conclusion — that that is a job that they are responsible for doing without any sort of political interference.

(....)

ROSEN: To your knowledge, has President Obama ever discussed the Department of Justice investigation with Mrs. Clinton? 

EARNEST: He has not. He has not.

Tell the Truth 2016 NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals Fox News Channel MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Government & Press President Obama President Barack Obama James Rosen Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Josh Earnest
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