Scarborough on Clinton Campaign Guest: 'Can’t Answer Basic Questions'

September 21st, 2016 7:25 PM

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough clashed with Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook during Wednesday's edition of the Morning Joe program after the constantly smiling guest repeatedly avoided answering questions about the Democratic presidential candidate’s foreign policy.

Also, co-anchor Willie Geist asked Mook about Clinton’s past support of Barack Obama‘s “red line” against Bashar al-Assad‘s use of chemical weapons in Syria. “She supported the drawing of the red line. … Was it a mistake to draw the red line if the president was not willing to do something about it when it was crossed?”

“Well,” Mook replied, “the decision regarding that was made after she was out of office, so I think you'd have to ask President Obama.”

“Was she disappointed that the president didn’t act when the line was crossed?” Geist asked.

“Again, I think you’re going to have to ask her that question,” Mook said. “That’s a matter of policy, and I’m going to leave it for her."

“Well, you’re here to speak for her, Robby,” Geist stated. “Would you care to discuss that at all?”

“Look, what matters is what she is going to do as president, and as I said, she has a clear plan to defeat ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria),” Mook asserted. “Donald Trump does not. It's a secret. He won't tell anybody what it is, and he says he knows more than the generals.”

“So Day 1 in office, ... what does she do in regard to Syria?”' the co-host queried.

Mook replied:

First of all, she said that she will work with our allies to dismantle their safe harbor in Syria and Iraq. She will harden our defenses here at home, and she will dismantle their network around the world.

And a lot of that is going to happen in cyberspace and digital communication, so you can go on our website and read the full plan there.

The next question came from veteran columnist Mike Barnicle, who asked: “So Robby, we do realize that you are not secretary of state, but in the debate next Monday evening, how would Secretary Clinton respond to somewhat of a version of the following question.”

"We've had a relief convoy bombed, potentially a war crime leading into Aleppo. What would you do, Secretary Clinton, about providing food, water and medicine to the citizens of eastern Aleppo today, right now, differently than what the Obama administration is doing?”

“Again,” Mook replied, “I think you're going to have to ask her that question that's a matter of policy. I'm going to leave that to her.”

At that point, the clearly agitated Joe Scarborough jumped into the fray by stating: “We love you, buddy, but what are you here for if you can't answer basic questions?”

“I mean, we may be tiptoeing into Gary Johnson territory here if you don’t know the answer to that basic of a question of what happened in Aleppo, then why do we have you here?” the host continued.

“Look, you're asking new policy questions,” the campaign manager stated. “You would have to ask the secretary about that. My job's not to set policy.”

“New?” Scarborough asked incredulously. “Aleppo has been around for -- . Syria's been around for some time; the red line being drawn has been around for some time. I'm not being difficult here at all. These are basic questions.”

“And I'm not being difficult either,” Mook responded. “I'm simply saying that she had laid out a plan to defeat ISIS, and if there are new questions pertaining to Aleppo, I'm going to let her answer those -- and she will answer those in the debate, and we look forward to her having the opportunity to do that.”

“And as I've said, Donald Trump has been unable to release a plan, and we hope that he will reveal his plans in the debate,” the guest noted.

Finally, Geist ended the interview by asking if Clinton still supported a no-fly zone over Syria. “I’m going to let her statements speak for themselves,” Mook said.

“Robby, aren’t you here representing her point of view?” a bemused Geist asked again.

“I am indeed,” the Democratic activist laughed, “and I’m going to let her language speak for itself.”

After the bizarre exchange, Scarborough stated: "So what's going on? I don't understand that. I'm completely flummoxed by that interview."

“I mean, first of all, are they pleased with the openness with the press?" he asked. Instead, people in the campaign “Won't respond to Aleppo. Won't respond to the no-fly zone. What's going on here? Better not to come on."