Hillary made mistake, but didn’t harm national security: Obama
WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 12
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business when she served as secretary of state was a mistake but didn’t endanger national security, President Barack Obama said during an interview airing Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Mr. Obama said public officials have to be more sensitive about how they handle information and personal data. Yet he also said the criticism of Ms. Clinton, who is leading the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, has been “ginned up” because of politics.
“I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama downplayed the threat to national security, and when it was pointed out that his administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers, the president said he didn’t get the impression there was an intent to “hide something or to squirrel away information.” He also said he was not initially aware of her use of the private email server.
There are still questions being raised about the security of that system.
Mr. Obama also discussed his views on Syria during the interview. The administration said Friday it is abandoning a failed Pentagon effort to build a new ground force of moderate rebels and overhauling its approach to instead partner with established rebel groups.
The change also reflects growing concern in Obama’s administration that Russia’s intervention has complicated the Syrian battlefield and given new life to President Bashar Assad.
Mr. Obama said he was “skeptical from the get-go” about the notion of creating an army of moderate forces within Syria. “My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL,” Mr. Obama said. Mr. Obama said part of the strategy behind the administration’s efforts was to “try different things.” He added that “in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets.”
While the Pentagon is abandoning its effort to train rebels, a CIA programme that since 2013 has trained some 10,000 rebels to fight Assad’s forces is ongoing.
Donald Trump won’t be next President: Barack Obama
President Barack Obama is fairly certain of one thing when it comes to next year’s election: Donald Trump won’t succeed him in the White House.
The billionaire businessman, the frontrunner in the race to become the Republican party’s White House nominee, has raised hackles with his controversial comments on immigration, gun control and women, among other issues.
“He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character, and at this early stage, it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a lot of attention,” Obama said of Trump in an interview on CBS television’s “60 Minutes” news program.
“I don’t think he’ll end up being president of the United States,” Obama said in the interview, which aired on Sunday.
Trump’s incendiary comments on immigration and other issues have dominated the campaign and offended many Americans, but he nevertheless has seen his poll numbers climb steadily higher.
During a speech to Latino political leaders last week, Obama condemned the logic of “saying clearly inflammatory things and then saying, ‘Well that’s not what I meant’ – until you do it again and again.”
“Leadership is not fanning the flames of intolerance, and then acting all surprised when a fire breaks out,” he added.
Obama did not name Trump directly during that speech, instead denouncing the overall tone of the Republican presidential field.
In his “60 Minutes” interview, the Democratic president pointed to “genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in a large portion of at least Republican primary voters,” although he stressed it was not “uniform.”
Obama, who is currently completing his second term after winning elections in 2008 and 2012, said he had no regrets about term limits that prevent him from running again.
“I think having a fresh set of legs in this seat, I think having a fresh perspective, new personnel and new ideas – and a new conversation with the American people about issues that may be different a year from now than they were when I started eight years ago – I think that’s all good for our democracy,” Obama said.