CNN’s Cafferty Pans Hillary, Questions Timing of Hughes Resignation

CNN’s Jack Cafferty, putting on his conspiratorial hat, questioned the timing of Karen Hughes’ resignation from her post at the State Department during the introduction of his "Cafferty File" segment. "Is it just a coincidence... that Karen Hughes left the State Department the day after we found out that the State Department granted some sort of immunity to 17 -- to these Blackwater guards who are suspected in the murders of 17 Iraqi civilians?" Even with this, Cafferty complimented Hughes as one of the "brighter bulbs" in the Bush Administration.

Cafferty then went on to criticize Hillary Clinton’s failure to answer questions she was asked at the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia. "She was also asked about conflicting statements on Social Security, a question she ducked, saying she believed in fiscal responsibility. What the hell does that mean? And when Clinton was asked why she wouldn't release her White House records from the time she was First Lady, her answer was, 'Well, that's not my decision to make.' Baloney, whose decision is it, the Easter Bunny's? Come on." His "Question of the Hour" reflected this criticism. "Why won't Hillary Clinton give a straight answer to the questions she's being asked?"

Cafferty’s comments came 7 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room." His comments on Karen Hughes came after the program did a segment on the Bush confidante’s resignation. In addition to calling Hughes "one of the brighter bulbs" in the Bush Administration, he complemented her service at the State Department. "[Hughes] probably did as good a job as anybody could have done."

A transcript of his comments on Hughes from the beginning of his "Cafferty File" segment:

JACK CAFFERTY: Is it just a coincidence, you suppose, Wolf, that Karen Hughes left the State Department the day after we found out that the State Department granted some sort of immunity to 17 -- to these Blackwater guards who are suspected in the murders of 17 Iraqi civilians? I mean, how do you sell the American point of view in the Arab street when you're working for a Secretary of State who runs a department that, without anybody knowing about it, gives some sort of immunity to these mercenaries who apparently killed a bunch of Iraqi civilians. There's no way you can overcome stuff like that. I wonder if her resignation had anything to do with that little piece of news we got yesterday.

WOLF BLITZER: We invited her, Jack, to come into 'The Situation Room' today, but she declined our invitation.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, and she is arguably one of the brighter bulbs in that whole administration, and probably did as good a job as anybody could have done. But you can't overcome stuff like this. The State Department that she works for is giving immunity to people who are murder suspects in the killing of Iraqi civilians. That is an impossible hill to get up. We'll talk about that some more in this round table, I guess, that we're going to have later on in the third hour of 'The Situation Room.'

BLITZER: That's right. 7 pm hour.

Cafferty then went to quote from "The Politico’s" analysis of Senator Clinton’s campaign performance. "'Clinton bombs debate.' That's how 'The Politico' describes Senator Hillary Clinton's showing last night in Philadelphia, calling it 'the worst performance of her entire campaign' and saying that for two hours, she 'dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.'" He also included quotes from Chris Dodd and John Edwards, who both attacked Hillary at the debate.

A transcript of Cafferty’s comments on Hillary Clinton from Wednesday’s "The Situation Room:"

CAFFERTY: 'Clinton bombs debate.' That's how 'The Politico' describes Senator Hillary Clinton's showing last night in Philadelphia, calling it 'the worst performance of her entire campaign' and saying that for two hours, she 'dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.' On the top of the list was Clinton's non-answer about whether illegal aliens should be given driver's licenses in New York State. That's the state she represents in the Senate. First came a long, complicated defense of Governor Spitzer's plan. But after Chris Dodd attacked the idea of giving licenses to these people, then Clinton said, 'Well, I didn't say it ought to be done.' John Edwards pounced immediately. 'Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes.' She was also asked about conflicting statements on Social Security, a question she ducked, saying she believed in fiscal responsibility. What the hell does that mean? And when Clinton was asked why she wouldn't release her White House records from the time she was First Lady, her answer was, 'Well, that's not my decision to make.' Baloney, whose decision is it, the Easter Bunny's? Come on.

Here's the question: why won't Hillary Clinton give a straight answer to the questions she's being asked? E-mail us at caffertyfile@cnn.Com or Cnn.com/caffertyfile.

You know, when Jim Carville told you a few minutes ago it wasn't her best night, I was surprised. He's pretty close to them and a big, big supporter. So, it was fairly obvious to everybody.

BLITZER: Yeah. He acknowledged it himself. All right, thanks very much, Jack. See you in a few moments.

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