RNC Spokesman Rips Media ‘Running to Defense’ of Hillary

Appearing on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Monday, Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer blasted the liberal media effort to spin the latest chapter in Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal as a controversy for FBI director James Comey: “...this is what perplexes me...frankly, [about] the questions today. The burden seems to be on Director Comey....the reality is that it's not Director Comey's fault. They [the Clinton campaign] lied twice, and everyone wants to know if it's the director's fault or not.”

Host Andrea Mitchell laughably attempted to defend Clinton’s top aide being at the center of the reopened investigation: “...let me just pause to give you the answer. Because the answer, according to all of our sources is that Huma Abedin said that wasn't her laptop, that it was Anthony Weiner's laptop.”  

Spicer called out the absurdity of that argument:

I appreciate how the media always runs to their defense, but let's face it, she is saying that “My husband that was involved in a sexting scandal with underage people had access to a computer that I was unaware about that may or may not have had classified information.” That’s quite a defense. I mean, the idea that this is their defense?...This is mind-blowing. Everybody is rushing to her defense.

He continued: “There should be serious questions about how they handled – ” Mitchell interrupted: “Sean, I'm not rushing to anybody's defense.” Spicer countered: “No, everybody is. The burden should not be on – ” Mitchell condescendingly remarked: “Sean, Sean, take a breath.”

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Spicer declared: “The burden should not be on Director Comey....the fact of the matter is twice they [the Clinton campaign] swore that they had turned over everything, Andrea. Twice they were wrong. And the fact of the matter is that this is a national disgrace.”

Mitchell went so far as to set up a hypothetical scenario in which Trump, not Clinton, was under FBI investigation: “Well, do you think, if the shoe were on the other foot, if something came out about let’s just say – the FBI – of Vladimir Putin, you know, a case being either expanded or revisited 11 days before the election and it involved your candidate, wouldn't you be crying foul?”

Spicer quipped: “What I wouldn’t be doing is I guarantee you the press wouldn't by running to our defense, they would be demanding questions and how this is going.”

Wrapping up the exchange moments later, he stated the facts that the press wanted to ignore:

The only reason we're here is that they violated rules and regulations from the get-go. If Hillary Clinton and her aides had used a State Department e-mail, which was the rule at the time, and hadn't tried to bleach it away and hadn't self-selected the e-mails, and hadn’t lied over and over again, we wouldn't be here. This is a scandal of their own choosing. They chose to evade government rules and regulations, they chose to lie and lie and lie. And this is where we are. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Here is a full transcript of the contentious October 31 exchange:

12:20 PM ET

DONALD TRUMP: The FBI would never have reopened this case at this time unless it were a most egregious criminal offense....Now the FBI has found – you're not going to believe this one, this just happened – another 650,000 e-mails. How do you get to 650 – I think that's called the mother load....The investigation is the biggest political scandal since Watergate.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Donald Trump pouncing on the FBI announcement on Friday of the newly discovered e-mails. Trump calling it a big bombshell and claiming it was a criminal investigation, proving illegality. Joining me now is Sean Spicer, the chief strategist, communications director for the Republican National Committee, who’s been working closely with the Trump campaign. Thank you, Sean, it’s good to see you.

SEAN SPICER: Good to see you. Happy birthday.

MITCHELL: Let’s – I want to give you a chance to respond – Thank you. Thank you for that. Please respond to Barbara Boxer, I want to give you a chance – and we've just heard from Donald Trump again – because right now we don't know – what we don’t know from that letter is whether or not there are any e-mails that come from the private server. We don't know if any e-mails come from Hillary Clinton, that’s for sure, or went to Hillary Clinton, and we don't know if there's anything that is relevant to the investigation. So how can we – how can Donald Trump conclude that this is the worst thing since Watergate?

SEAN SPICER: Here's what we do know – and this is what perplexes me not only about what Barbara Boxer said, but frankly, the questions today. The burden seems to be on Director Comey. The reality is this, in February of 2014, Huma Abedin signed a form OF-109, which states that she agrees that when she left the government that she turned over all work-related products and devices. On June 28th, 2016, she had a sworn court-ordered deposition, where she said under oath that she had turned over all devices and all e-mails. So why is the question not being asked to Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, “Twice you have said under penalty of law that everything was turned over”? Because what we do know is that in both cases, that was not true. So the reality is that it's not Director Comey's fault. They lied twice, and everyone wants to know if it's the director's fault or not.

MITCHELL: Sean, let me just – let me just pause to give you the answer. Because the answer, according to all of our sources is that Huma Abedin said that wasn't her laptop, that it was Anthony Weiner's laptop. She didn’t – was not aware that she had any e-mails at all on that laptop. And obviously something is awry here and we're about to find out from the FBI. But the point is should this be done within 11 days –

SPICER: Okay, so wait, wait, time-out, time-out. Hold on. I appreciate – I appreciate how the media always runs to their defense, but let's face it, she is saying that “My husband that was involved in a sexting scandal with underage people had access to a computer that I was unaware about that may or may not have had classified information.” That’s quite a defense. I mean, the idea that this is their defense? “My husband, who was involved with underage – ”

MITCHELL: You just made a leap to classified information. We don’t even know if there’s an e-mail from her.

SPICER: Hold on. I cannot believe that we are sitting around having a discussion about the fact that her defense is, “Well, my husband may have been sexting with underage women. I didn't realize that he may or may not have had access to a computer that I did have that may or may not have had classified information.” This is mind-blowing. Everybody is rushing to her defense. There should be serious questions about how they handled –

MITCHELL: Sean, I'm not rushing to anybody's defense. I am saying that –

SPICER: No, everybody is. The burden should not be on –  

MITCHELL: Sean, Sean, take a breath.

SPICER: The burden should not be on Director Comey. Why is the director being – the fact of the matter is twice they swore that they had turned over everything, Andrea. Twice they were wrong. And the fact of the matter is that this is a national disgrace.

MITCHELL: That is still her point, apparently, and I obviously don't have firsthand knowledge of this, I'm just telling you that what they are saying, what she is apparently telling people, telling colleagues, is that that's not her laptop. So she was unaware of that. That she turned over and her lawyers turned over everything, every device that they knew of. Now we will find out from the FBI.

SPICER: Okay, but let’s face it, there’s a pattern. Right, and these are the same people who told us the first time in 2013, who signed legal documents that they had turned it over then. We found out that they were lying then. There were more devices, they tried to crush them with a hammer, they deleted them, they bleach-blitzed them. So with all due respect, they don't exactly have a pattern of telling the truth when it comes to this whole investigation.

MITCHELL: Well, do you think, if the shoe were on the other foot, if something came out about let’s just say – the FBI – of Vladimir Putin, you know, a case being either expanded or revisited 11 days before the election and it involved your candidate, wouldn't you be crying foul?

SPICER: What I wouldn’t be doing is I guarantee you the press wouldn't by running to our defense, they would be demanding questions and how this is going. The Clintons didn't seem to have a problem in 1992 when an indictment came down on Cap Weinberger days before the election, that benefitted her husband. In fact, Bill Clinton went out and talked about what a travesty this was that it was having and put then-President Bush, who was closing the gap. So again, it's always a double standard with the Clintons. When it benefits them, when Director Comey came out and held a press conference earlier this year, they talked about what a great man he was. Harry Reid talked about no one could touch the integrity of this man. Nancy Pelosi said, quote, “He is great man to have at the helm of the FBI. It's amazing how when the rules benefit them these folks are full of praise –

MITCHELL: And we just played the –  

SPICER: The second that the instance turns over on them –

MITCHELL: In fact, we just played all of that to make that very point. And by the way, Sean, on Friday, when this was breaking, I went on the air and pointed out that in 1992, I was covering Bill Clinton on October 30th, on Friday, in Pittsburgh, when that indictment came down. And as we all pointed out and Rachel Maddow pointed out that Friday night, that indictment was dropped on December 12th, after the election, but George Herbert Walker Bush told David Frost that he thought that it was a cruel blow and it helped defeat him, that it was beginning to turn the page and was beginning to narrow the gap.

SPICER: It did. But again, remember – hold on, Andrea, I think the one thing that – again, and I've said this before, but I think this entire thing has to be put into perspective. The only reason we're here is that they violated rules and regulations from the get-go. If Hillary Clinton and her aides had used a State Department e-mail, which was the rule at the time, and hadn't tried to bleach it away and hadn't self-selected the e-mails, and hadn’t lied over and over again, we wouldn't be here. This is a scandal of their own choosing. They chose to evade government rules and regulations, they chose to lie and lie and lie. And this is where we are. They have no one to blame but themselves.

MITCHELL: Sean Spicer, it’s great to see you. Thank you very much.

SPICER: Good to see you.

MITCHELL: Thanks for being with us.

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