united states. and every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed. and i think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what he says and follow up and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or -- there is this process that seems to take place over the course of the election season where somehow behavior that in normal times we would consider completely unacceccepte and outrageous becomes normalized. people start thinking behavior that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable
and outrageous becomes normalized. and people start thinking we should be grading on a curve. but i can tell you from the interactions that i've had over the last eight or nine days with foreign leaders, that this serious business. you actually have to know what you're talking about, and you actually have to have done your homework. when you speak, it should actually reflect thought-out policy that you can implement. and i have confidence that if, in fact, people just listen to what he has to say and look at his track record or lack thereof, that they'll make a good decision. >> reporter: you know, on this trip, white house sources have told us that the president has been wanting to get back out on the campaign trail, but his schedule really hasn't allowed
him to do that. he sees the enormous stakes involved. he watches the poll numbers, and he knows the power of his own voice among democrats, among young people to get out there and vote, which is going to be critical, of course, in this election. but this press conference gave him a chance to weigh in. we heard him, you know, say some things that were similar to what he said in the past, but when he rounded it out, you know, he didn't simply say i've weighed in on this before, i'm not listening to what donald trump is saying. this really gave him a chance to say a little more, to go a little bit further before he can get out on the trail again next month. >> all right, michelle. thank you very much. appreciate it. so last night secretary of state hillary clinton and donald trump answered questions one after another to a crowd of largely veterans and their families. it was a test on what each would do as commander in chief in a very dangerous world. the two facing tough questions
at this national security forum, trump defending a past tweet about sexual assault in the military and had more praise for vladimir putin. clinton made the case for why she is qualify to be president. sunlen serfaty joins us with more. >> reporter: it quickly turned into a small preview of how they could potentially handle themselves at their first real faceoff at the debate later this month. both trying to gain the upper hand on the big question, who is ready to be commander in chief. donald trump drumming up more controversy. >> the man has very strong control over a country. >> reporter: praising russian president vladimir putin while trashing president obama. >> he's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader. >> reporter: and attacking the performance of u.s. military generals, standing by his statement claiming he knows more about isis than the generals do. >> under the leadership of barack obama and hillary clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. they have been reduced to a
point where it's embarrassing for our country. >> reporter: but giving no details on his plan to defeat isis. >> i have a substantial chance of winning. if i win, i don't want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is. >> reporter: hillary clinton making clear her plan to fight isis will not include ground troops. >> we've got to do it with air power. we've got to do it with much more support for the arabs and the kurds who will fight on the ground against isis. we are not putting ground troops into iraq ever again, and we're not putting ground troops into syria. >> reporter: clinton getting grilled over her use of a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of state and her vote to go to war with iraq. >> classified material has a header which says top secret, secret, confidential. nothing, and i will repeat this and this is verified in the report by the department of
justice, none of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header. i think that the decision to go to war in iraq was a mistake. >> reporter: later, trump repeating his false claim that he opposed the iraq war from the start. >> i've always said, shouldn't be there. >> are you for invading iraq? >> yeah, i guess so. you know, i wish it was -- i wish the first time it was done correctly. >> reporter: and declaring that the u.s. should have stolen oil from iraq. >> but if we're going to get out, take the oil. if we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have isis. used to be to the victor belong the spoils. >> reporter: and sparking outrage for defending his controversial 2013 tweet that suggests sexual assault in the mu military is the result of women serving alongside men. >> it is a correct tweet. there are many people who think that's absolutely correct. you have reported and the gentlemen can tell you, you have the report of rape and nobody
gets prosecuted. there are no consequence. >> reporter: also drawing criticism, nbc news anchor matt lauer being accused of aggressively questioning clinton. >> i want to get to a lot of questions. >> reporter: and not fact checking trump's claims throughout the event. >> i was totally against the war in iraq. perhaps almost as bad was the way barack obama got out. that was a disaster. >> people talk about you and commander in chief and not just secretary clinton, but some of your republican opponents in the primary season and wonder about your temperament. >> reporter: and afterwards, both sides slammed the other over their performance. the rnc chair reince priebus specifically calling out clinton for, in his words, being angry and defensive the entire time, tweeting out that she had no smile and was uncomfortable, upset she was caught wrongly sending our secrets. the clinton campaign shooting right back, saying that's just what taking the office of the once again, chris and alisyn, . both sides trying to gain advantage over the question of
who has the right temperament for this job. >> all right, sunlen. thanks so much for laying all that out. a lot has happened overnight. we have a super panel. cnn pentagon reporter barbara starr, former cia official philip mudd, reporter for "the new york times," alex burns, and cnn political analyst and host of the david gregory show podcast, david gregory. great to have all of you here. we have a lot to talk about. let's start with what the president said moments ago. he's in laos. he was asked about the presidential election back here at home. he weighed in on donald trump. what did you hear? >> well, i think what's striking is the president has repeated he doesn't think donald trump is qualified to be president based on his most recent comments that vladimir putin is a strong leader, is more qualified than president obama. i think that anybody who has covered the presidency, anybody who is a student of foreign affairs knows that donald trump
speaking about vladimir putin in such glowing terms betrays a great lack of preparedness on his part with regard to foreign policy. you have vladimir putin, who has essentially played two presidents and confounded their trust, both president bush and president obama. i think that donald trump could have a very difficult time as president assuming this kind of knowledge. so i think the president saying that is also important because as a surrogate, he's going to be somebody who's going to be making this argument. he's got enough support out in the country that i think that can be politically important. >> donald trump basically saying that vladimir putin is a better leader than the president of the united states. here's some of the sound on that. >> if he says great things about me, i'm going to say great things about him. i've already said he is really very much of a leader. you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing. the man has very strong control over a country. now, it's a very different system. i don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader. >> barbara starr, forget about
the read in the room. what with r you hearing from your sources about how that type of talk of favorably comparing putin to the president of the united states went over? >> well, i think it's fair to say this is going to cause some anxiety, if you will, amongst top military commanders who are having to confront the russians around the world. i mean, look at the moves the russians are making in eastern europe right now. they have thousands of troops in crimea. they're working on a major military exercise there. they're demonstrating air and ground power to europe to show that they could defend crimea and that they could make additional moves in europe. you're having donald trump praise the man who is behind all of this. the russians moving ahead in syria, causing a good deal of anxiety in the u.s. the russians behind the bombing campaign against aleppo that is such a humanitarian disaster right now. that's the kind of leadership, this kind of bombing of
civilians and hospitals in aleppo, that's the kind of leadership that vladimir putin is demonstrating right now. and that is kind of thing that is causing the u.s. military and the obama administration a lot of concern. i can't think of anything that they would disagree with donald trump on perhaps more than this. >> let's move on to something else controversial that came up at the commander in chief forum last night. that was the crisis of sexual assault in the military. matt lauer asked donald trump about this tweet that he had sent out in 2013. donald trump sent a tweet that said, 26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military, only 238 convictions. what did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together? that was the tweet he sent out. last night when matt lauer asked about it, here was his response. >> well, it is a correct tweet. there are many people that think that's absolutely correct. and we need to have a strength -- >> so this should be expected
and does that mean the only way to fix it is to take women out of the military? >> and by the way, since then it's gotten worse. not to kick them out, but something has to happen. right now part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted. you have reported and the gentlemen can tell you, you have the report of rape and nobody gets prosecuted. >> all right, alex. what are you hearing about his response there and how that went over? >> i think you see trump in a pretty familiar pattern on that answer. he gets held to account for something intemporate. he won't defend the substance of his remarks. he just turns on the fog machine and starts talking about a bunch of related topics. that's going to be a really hard act to sustain over the next two months. when democrats see him giving that kind of answer, and frankly when republicans who don't care for him see him giving that kind of answer, they just see fodder for days and days of asking other republicans to support or disavow his comments, of asking
mike pence if he agrees with donald trump on these issues. it's just a wealth of opportunities. you see it on the russia policy stuff as well, where trump offered new material in a way last night that a way hillary clinton, as uncomfortable as she may have been, really didn't. >> trump said last night that an undocumented immigrant may be able to stay in this country as long as they want to serve in the military. if that's not a departure from what he's been saying in the past, i don't know what is. but one of the things that kept coming up last night in responses i got from the forum is this is the first time people got to see clinton and trump answering serious questions from people who deserve answers, the veterans. forget about reporters. do you believe that last night showed there is no parody between these two when it comes to matters of policy? >> to me, the answers i saw were fundamentally different. looking at it through a security lens. for example, secretary clinton talking about how she would or would not deploy troops overseas. he's saying she would not. very clear answer. you can dispute the answer, but i know where she stands. i would contrast from a national
security perspective with another candidate, mr. trump saying that we should have taken oil from iraq when we moved in. let's be clear, chris. this is iraqi oil. we move in as an american people to defend other peoples and to defend american security. that sounds to me like plunder. it doesn't sound to me like national security. when i saw debate, i did see a difference between how they answered in terms of specificity and seriousness. >> i think we're going to see some -- this is really a preview of the debates. they're going to be on the same debate stage at the same time and interacting with each other more in the debates, but i think that's what's interesting, to your point. when he's shooting from the hip, people are going to make a judgment. he can make good arguments about the state of the world and what culpability secretary clinton has as former secretary of state, but i come back to this putin thing. to praise putin as a leader, who is an authoritarian leader in russia because he has control over his system, yeah, most authoritarians do. and we have both president bush
and president obama who have seen -- i said they were played by president putin. what i meant was he really betrayed their trust as a leader in bilateral relations. donald trump doesn't seem to understand how difficult this relationship would be. i think people, whether they're following russia policy, are going to make a determination about can i see this guy in the oval office. that's what matters. >> last night hillary clinton's vote to go into iraq also came up. she has said that was a mistake and she regrets it, but last night she flipped it basically about how because of that mistake, she's the best equipped to know how to move forward. listen to her response. >> i have said that my voting to give president bush that authority was, from my perspective, my mistake. i also believe that it is imperative that we learn from the mistakes. i think i'm in the best possible position to be able to
understand that and prevent it. >> barbara, what did you make of that response from the pentagon perch? >> well, i think that, you know, the iraq war continues to be a great issue of sensitivity. so many troops serving so valiantly and so many losing their lives there. that service still very much by the pentagon honored. the question, of course, what it always goes back to, was the intelligence good, was there wmd, was that the basis for going into the war. and i think you have to look at through that lens at that time and the decisions made at that time, certainly not what is happening now. i want to go back to what phil said, however. this issue of that mr. trump believes the u.s. military should move in and take the iraqi oil. trump said last night -- you know, he cited that cliche, to the victor go the spoils. the u.s. military could not be more different than that.
that is not what the u.s. military is about. the u.s. military does not go in and take these so-called spoils of war. so that may be something else that people will have to consider as they make their judgments about the iraq war of several years ago and what u.s. troops are doing in that region right now. >> i think it's important, what lessons did she learn from the invasion of the occupation of iraq, from intelligence to what was misinterpreted about our long stay there. and how did she apply those lessons to her support for invading libya, which was really a policy disaster, as the president has said. that's something she should be pressed on here in terms of how she's learned these lessons. >> you saw her really sort of sweating the e-mail questions at the top of that event last night, but there were so many moments where on real substantive questions related to national security, there were opportunities to press her and push for sort of explanations on inconsistencies in her record. that pledge last night, which sounded pretty ironclad to me that, she will never send
american troops back to iraq ever, that's a pretty remarkable thing for a president. >> she did segue and say you have to look at these case by case. i think you expect that at some level. the idea you can be absolute about a world that's always changing is a little naive. one point for you that you want to make, on the iraq war thing, by the way, donald trump doubled down once again on the idea he was against the war, and he cited two sources that do not prove his point. if you want to go and look, a "new day" mug for anybody who can find any proof of donald trump being against the war at the time that the war was being considered or before that, "new day" mug for you. you won't find it. you were upset about what he said about his intelligence briefings. why? >> upset would be understated. anybody in the intelligence business who heard that snippet, and i'm sure 99% of the american people who weren't in the business missed it, would be offended. if you walk in -- and i know some of these guys who talk to
mr. trump, you have a simple objective. here's what's going on in a critical area. for example, china, russia, iran. if the question is what is the u.s. government doing, that's a question for the white house. it's not an intelligence professional's question. furthermore, any intelligence professional who would comment on that would be released for being unprofessional. >> he said their body language showed that they don't like the administration's plan. >> so you're telling me that you sensed that an intelligence briefer was unprofessional, in my view unacceptably unprofessional because of body language. are you kidding me? >> the way i interpreted it is he determined from body language that the generals or the intelligence officials were not comfortable with what they were hearing from the president. >> again, that would be an unprofessional briefing by an intelligence professional. you walk in the room and explain what the global event is. if someone like mr. trump says, what do you think about what the white house is doing, your answer is, i appreciate your question, please go ask the
white house. you don't sit there with body language and say, i'm uncomfortable with what you're asking. i thought that was completely unacceptable. missed by most of the american people. cringe worthy by me. >> there you go. phil mudd, thank you very much. panel, great to get all of your insights. donald trump is under fire for his criticism of the nation's generals. he said they've been, quote, reduced to rubble and have become, quote, an embarrassment for the country. so we will ask two retired generals what they thought about that. that's ahead. woah!
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soon, she'll type the best essays in the entire 8th grade. get back to great. all computers on sale like this dell laptop. office depot officemax. gear up for school. gear up for great. i think under the leadership of barack obama and hillary clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. they have been reduced to a point where it's embarrassing for our country. you have a force of 30,000 or so people, nobody really knows, but probably 30,000 people, and i can just see great, as an example, general george patton
spinning in his grave. >> donald trump and hillary clinton facing off last night over who is best to handle national security issues. many are taking issue with trump's comments there that the current u.s. military generals have been, quote, reduced to rubble, and saying the situation is an embarrassment. let's discuss this with retired lieutenant general keith kellogg and cnn military analyst, retired lieutenant general mark hurtling. great to have both of you. general kellogg, what did you think when you heard donald trump say the generals have been reduced to rubble? how did you interpret that? >> great question. i think it comes to temperament. i think that's the reason why he'll be a great commander in chief when he's elected president of the united states. i believe there's three points to that question. one, he's got a great view for people. two, he asks the right questions. i call them edge questions. three, and most importantly, and this gets directly to the question you just asked, he's got an ability and desire to win. that's important. the question he's got now is
after 14 years, we really haven't won. there's nothing different about demanding senior officers to want to win on a battlefield. george c. marshall did it in world war ii. then abraham lincoln did it in the civil war when he replaced george mclelland for not fighting. >> are you saying the generals now don't want to win? >> well, we haven't had a winning strategy in 14 years. if you call what we've done in the last 14 years winning, i'd hate to look at what defeat looks like. when you look at what the last 14 years, what's happened out there, we have a middle east that's really in a broken state. when you look at iraq, when you look at syria, 400,000 dead, 3 million refugees, trillion os dollars spent. when you look at libya and the whole middle east that's out there, if this is considered victory, we have a problem. >> general hurtling, how did you
interpret those comments? >> well, i love my brother keith kellogg, but i saw it completely different. it was embarrassing, insulting, outrageous, outlandish. pick the descriptor, and that's what i thought when i heard him say this. i've been one of the guys fighting on the battlefield. truthfully, this is a very complex fight. as keith said, all of the middle east is enflamed. it's considerably difficult to get that under control. it's something that we've been fighting for. we've certainly made some mistakes, but the american soldier and the american generals have been doing very good in terms of doing what politicians have been asking us to do. >> do you disagree? you heard your colleague here saying that he found it insulting because the generals have been trying. >> i don't find it insulting. before we go any further, i really respect mark hurtling. we're friends. we've been together. we worked 9/11 and in the pentagon together. tremendous respect for him. but we haven't won out there.
when you look at -- i'll use an example of somebody else on another competitive show that's out there, a four-star general who i really respect. he said the strategy is disarray. so the generals responsible for creating this strategy going forward -- and we haven't gotten there. someone asked the question, why haven't we won after 14 years? why haven't we put some stabilization into that area? >> general hurtling, your response to that. i think both of you are saying the generals deserve respect on some level but they're not winning because they're taking bad advice from the politicians. >> well, i'm not saying that. i'm saying it's a complex situation. the politicians are responsible for the strategy. when i say that, i'm not just talking about the u.s. politicians. there are politicians on the other side. it's a condition of the battlefield you have to consider what the other side is doing, not just the enemy, but the allies you're
working with. that in the middle east is sometimes extremely difficult. but i think what we have seen from a military perspective is continuous gains. yeah, you can't put a win on it. you can't put a flag on ground and say we're signing the peace accords because we've claimed victory. but truthfully, every time the military has worked and the generals i've been associated with have done a phenomenal job executing the strategy. there have been some other factors which have affected that. that's what i'm saying. i go back to the words. i look for in my leaders the ability to communicate. when a presidential contender uses the word that the generals are in the rubble and then starts talking next about taking oil and in the past killing terrorist families and waterboarding, it tells me he refuses to relinquish the fact that he doesn't have a good ability to communicate and he has a lack of intellect regarding the complex situation on the ground. >> i want to bring up one of the points you just made. that is what donald trump said
last night about iraq oil. let me play this for everyone. >> i've always said, shouldn't be there, but if we're going to get out, take the oil. if we would have taken the oil, you wnt have isis. isis formed with the power and wealth of that oil. >> how are we going to take the oil? >> just leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil. you know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils. now, there was no victor there, believe me. there was no victor. but i always said, take the oil. >> general hurtling, let me start with you. what did you make of those comments? >> first of all, his beginning statement that he was always against the iraq war, we know that not to be true. i would like to get that bet of chris cuomo with that "new day" mug. no one's going to get that. secondly, to say we should plunder and take the oil, as phil mudd described it, is exactly against the american way
of war. and having been in northern iraq for almost two years and knowing that a third of the oil is there, i'm just not sure the physics associated with taking the oil after you've invaded a country. what, you leave mobile and exxon there while the rest of the country tries to regain stability? i don't know how that works. maybe i'm slow, but it's confusing to me. >> general kellogg, your response. >> well, i think one of the roles you have is to make sure you take control of strategic parts of a country. when i went into iraq, actually, into saudi arabia in the first gulf war, the unit i was with, the 82nd airborne division, we put units around the oil fields because we realized that was so critical to the fight going forward in case iraq came south into saudi arabia. >> but do you take their natural resources? >> you hold them. >> but donald trump is talking about something different. he's talking about taking oil. >> no, he's not. i don't believe he is at all.
the comment -- and here's part of the concern i have going forward. when you use words like plundering, that's a pretty hot word to use. he has never said plunder. >> what did he mean? you take their oil. if we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have isis. what does he mean? >> strategically hold that area. so you deny them the ability to have an economic lifeline. you take the oil. we know they're using it. we know they're getting about $3 million a day from black market oil. you take away their finances. when you hold the oil, you take away their ability to finance, it cuts down their ability to recruit. >> and holding the oil would have involved more ground troops. >> well, yes. would it involve ground troops, yes. whose ground troops are they? >> i don't know. what's the answer to that? >> well, the answer is he's going to leave that up to the commanders to figure that out.
the intent is that the arab coalitions would put the troops on the ground. now saying that, he's been very, very clear. he's going to reserve judgment. one of the things i like about him and what he's done, he's looked to the commanders and said, you come to me, you generals in civilian leadership, you come to me with a plan within 30 days of assuming office. after that plan, i'll look at it. it's like we do in any military operation. you come through with several courses of action and then you make the hard decision. >> general hertling, i want to get your response. >> i'm going to use the word plunder because that is what he said. quite frankly, alisyn, it's really discouraging to me, and i love keith, but to see not only keith but others attempt to interpret what he said. every time you get a different surrogate for mr. trump, they interpret it a different way. when is he going to start meaning what he says and using the right words to communicate? he didn't say guard the oil. he didn't say secure the oil. he said we should have taken the oil. that only tells me that he's
looking at plundering, and that's against the american value system and the american way of war. >> general hertling, general kellogg, thank you for debating all this. >> thanks, alisyn. >> let's get to chris. so last night the e-mail controversy that's being dogging hillary clinton, it came up. now, it is debatable whether or not the server story is a matter of national security. what did not come up last night may be the headline for you this morning. you see colin powell on your screen right now. an e-mail from him to secretary clinton that's been speculated on a lot is now here for our review. the facts next. i tried hard to quit smoking. but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. it's the best thing that ever happened to me. every great why needs a great how.
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all right. this is being called something of a bomb shell this morning. democratic congressman elijah cummings releasing a 2009 e-mail exchange that backs up hillary clinton's claims that she sought advice on whether or not to use personal e-mail and devices from her predecessor as secretary of state, colin powell. last month powell told "people" magazine that clinton's campaign
was trying to, quote, pin her use of private e-mail on him and that she'd been using the private server for a year before she discussed it with him. but this new e-mail exchange reveals something quite different. clinton asked him, quote, what were the restrictions on your use of your blackberry? did you use it in your personal office? i've been told that the dss personnel knew you had one and used it but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it. president obama has struck a blow for berriedied a diy ed ia. any advice is welcome. here is how colin powell responded. >> i didn't have a blackberry. what i did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line. sounds ancient. so i could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the state department servers. i even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the department on their personal
e-mail accounts. i did the same thing on the road in hotels. now, the real issue had to do with pdas, as we called them a few years ago, before blackberry became a noun. the issue was diplomatic security would not allow them into the secure spaces, especially up your way. when i asked why not, they gave me all kinds of nonsense about how they gave out signals and could be read by spies, et cetera. same reason they tried to keep mobile phones out of the suite. i had numerous meetings with them. we even opened up one for them to try to explain to me why it was more dangerous than, say, a remote control from one of the many tvs in the suite or something embedded in my shoe heel. they never satisfied me, and the nsa and cia wouldn't back off. so we just went about our business and stopped asking. i had an ancient version of the pda and used it. in general, the suite was so sealed that it was hard to get signals in or out wirelessly, however there is a real danger. if it is public that you have a
blackberry and it is government and you're using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law. reading about the president's blackberry rules this morning, it sounds like it won't be as useful as it used to be. be very careful. i got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data. you will find diplomatic security driving you crazy if you let them. they had maddi tied up in knots. i refuse to let them live in my house or build a place on my property. they found an them my garage half a block away. on weekends, i drove my beloved cars around town without them following me. i promised i would have a phone and not be gone more than an hour or two at the hardware store. they hated it and asked me to sign a letter relieving them of responsibility if i got whacked while doing that. i gladly did. spontaneity was my security. they wanted to have two to three guys follow me around the building all the time. i said if they were doing their
job guarding the place, they didn't need to follow me. i relented and let one guy follow me one full corridor behind just so they knew where i was if i was needed immediately. their job is to keep you hermetically sealed up. love, colin. former secretary powell has not responded to a cnn request for comment on these newly released e-mail chains. >> all right. so let's discuss. cnn political analyst and national political reporter for "the new york times," algts -- alex burns, and host of the david gregory show podcast, david gregory. how big a deal is this in the context of clinton has been saying all along that she went to secretary powell for guidance, he said he used his own computer, that he'd set up his own personal space, and that was guidance for her. the trump campaign, the republicans who have held a gazillion hearings on this, have said she was lying about that essentially all along. what now? >> well, a couple things. i always have to point out my
wife beth wilkinson represents hillary clinton's aides in this investigation, not the former secretary herself. >> so you knew this and said nothing to us. >> no, i did not know this. but i think there's still a dispute between them because powell has made it clear she was using the private server and he never did that. but he's clearly expressing to her the difficulties about when personal e-mail could be subject to the law, could become public record and she would have to be careful. what's not in dispute is this was a serious lapse in judgment on her part. she has admitted that. what's also not a dispute is this was not illegal based on what the fbi and justice department -- >> and colin powell, a man of very high integrity, told her i'm using a personal computer because these rules are cumbersome, because i'm concerned about the transparency aspects of it. >> but that's different than having an outside server, and that's certainly different than deleting thousands of e-mails. so the politics of this is never going to go away.
but we know some things that are not in dispute. i think this gets into other areas about what's classify, what's not, the difficulties of personal communications that a lot of government officials go through, especially at the highest levels. i want to at least be careful at this point about overreading this. >> what do you hear, alex? >> i think just politically, a lot of -- certainly a lot of republicans and some democrats are frustrated with the e-mail story. they kind of -- i don't even know that colin powell having done exactly the same thing as hillary clinton is politically exonerating. it gives her some cover in that she can say this man of integrity told me he did the same thing. >> and that she reached out. she was trying to get an answer. what this tells me is she was searching for an answer. she didn't go in with a plan. she was asking people, how do you handle this? what should i do? he tells her basically there's like this bureaucratic morass she should try to avoid.
>> the idea that george bush's secretary of state did the same thing as me or did something similar in a certain area and told me what i was doing was okay, i don't know that's an explanation that really holds up. >> also, look at what they're talking about. they're talking about blackberries, which is a window into the fact that even our treatment of e-mails as a society, let alone in government, has changed. even since 2008 it's changed dramatically. he's also saying be careful. hillary clinton, she'll make arguments about whether or not she was careful. she has admitted a serious -- >> hillary clinton gets attacked for what she did as if nobody has ever done anything like this before. i think that is fair criticism from her campaign and supporters on a regular basis. that when she does it, it gets magnified in importance. i think that's what the colin powell e-mail goes to.
she wasn't the first one to ever consider these ideas of what to do to insulate herself from undue scrutiny. another point on that is what comey just said. the fbi is now getting tarred for its investigation of her. they put out the report. the gop, clinton critics are using it as proof the fbi was inadequate. comey said this. there are two aspects to this. one, our judgment about the facts and prosecutive merit, which is supposed to be his only job. and two, how we decided to talk about that judgment, which is not his job. the difficult decision was actually the second part, not the first. at the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliff hanger. i have worked and reported on the fbi for 15 years. i cannot find anybody inside that agency who has any clout to say anything else, that this wasn't a closed case. we would not prosecute this. comey was put in an artificial position, which is his second point. he's not supposed to talk about
why he wouldn't prosecute. that's for the doj. that got messy politically. but do you think that this matters, that he's coming out and saying it wasn't a close case, period. >> well, i do think it matters. again, i want to be very careful here because my wife as a lawyer has dealt directly with the fbi investigation. so i just want to be totally transparent with our audience about this. >> do you feel he always makes it about him when i ask a question? >> or about his wife. >> i'll be fairly scrutinize about this. this is a very specific point. it is just, as an objective matter, highly unusual for an fbi director to talk about why they didn't charge someone, if they didn't charge them. just like the justice department would not talk about it if they didn't charge someone. what's clear is that -- and i know this from my own reporting, that this fbi director is extremely sensitive about criticism within the fbi about the treatment of this investigation and feels the need to justify himself. what i find curious is that this same man, who has a senior
justice department official in the bush administration, was so sure and so confident in the independence and rule of law that he stood up to the president and his chief of staff and would not allow an order to be signed by then incapacitated attorney general john ashcroft with regard to the treatment of prisoners. he felt so strongly about it then, but he's apparently less confident in the independence of the judiciary today that he feels the political pressure. >> and donald trump has had no compunctions about putting the fbi itself on the defensive here. he's now actively out there on the campaign trail accusing the fbi of improper conduct. you can understand why an fbi director would want to say something. it's just a question of whether that's actually part of his role to push back. >> let's talk about last night, where there was this can dad forum and it was this commander in chief forum. it was the first time that viewers and voters got to see
the two candidates, level playing field, apples to apples, exactly what their plans are laid out. what do you think the reaction was? what do you think the political fallout was from last night? >> president obama said something which is like we're almost grading on a curve, that we tend to view these kinds of debates and some things donald trump says as if they're above board and normal and should be reported normally. i think that's true and not true. the true aspect of it is that i think donald trump or any political outsider can make a searing critique of the state of the world and the state of presidential leadership and even the leadership of former secretary of state with regard to what's happened in the middle east over the past 15 years, that she certainly has been a part of. voting for the iraq war, voting for an invasion of libya, as she did, supporting it as secretary of state, driving that policy. i think that's a fair criticism. when he says that vladimir putin, the president of russia, who is an authoritarian, has good control over his government, that just shows he
doesn't understand the international system and he somehow thinks he's going to have a better relationship with russia, which has betrayed the trust of two presidents in a row, indicates he doesn't appreciate how difficult that relationship would be. >> the notion that seeing them this way removes the idea of parody when it comes to policy. do you think that will become a common reaction to last night? >> i do. and i think it's really a preview of what we're going to see in the debates starting later this month. it was in some ways an apples to apples comparison last night, but you didn't have the candidates interacting with each other, and you didn't have the moderator asking them the same questions and treating them the same way. >> they can get into a real debate, and voters will be able to make a judgment about temperament, about knowledge.
>> we'll be watching that first debate. thank you very much for being here. well, nbc's matt lauer is under fire on social media at least for his performance as moderator last night. what did he do wrong? our media mavens give us their take next. afoot and light-hearted i take to the open road. healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine. the north and the south are mine. all seems beautiful to me.
all right. so ans s aspect of understandin these events with the candidate is how they're run. at last night's commander in chief forum, you had nbc's matt lauer, now getting heavy crate schism for a variety of reasons. lauer really went at hillary clinton early on, giving her a lot of cues about time. we did not see that same dynamic with donald trump. and then there was a big moment. trump doubled down on one of his most common -- >> false? >> false, well, i don't know what you want to call it. he has no proof he was against the iraq war, but he argues he does. here's that moment. >> but you say -- >> now, look, this is an important issue.
i know we're on tv. we don't have a lot of time. >> i want to get to a lot of questions. >> i will talk quickly. >> what have you done in your life that prepares you to send men and women of the united states into harm's way? >> i have good judgment. i know what's going on. i've called so many of the shots. i happened to hear hillary clinton say that i was not against the war in iraq. i was totally against the war in iraq. >> all right. he says, i'm totally against the war in iraq, you can look at the interview i gave with "esquire" in 2004. all of that was after the war, after everybody realized those of us who were over there covering it and people back here realized that it was a mistake. there is zero proof that he was against it at the time it was being debated. i've asked him about it. he doesn't have a good answer. let's discuss how the forum was run and the candidates' performances in that context. we have dylan beyers and host of "reliable sources," brian stelter. what did you see, my brother? >> i saw the journalistic
challenge of this decade. interviewing donald trump and challenging him when he's wrong is the journalistic challenge of our time. hillary clinton is a challenge too, but donald trump is a challenge. matt lauer did not step up to that challenge. >> what did he do wrong? >> well, look, you know, political interviews, forums, town halls, debates, these are significant deals. they're especially significant given all that's at stake in the 2016 election. you don't send matt lauer to do a political reporter's job. look, in a debate, it might be fair to argue you can let the two candidates fact check each other, but when it comes to these one-on-one interviews, these forums, you have to step up and play that role. that onus is on you. matt lauer didn't do that. he certainly didn't do that with donald trump. he didn't do it on the iraq war. he didn't do it on a number of other issues. frankly, this criticism that he went a lot harder on hillary clinton than donald trump, i think, is well founded. >> i would add live television is really hard. the other caveat i would add is
if the candidates had been willing to sit on that stage longer, we would have heard more and could have heard more fact checking. you know, i agree with the frustration that i think so many viewers at home felt during the debate, during the discussion, that there wasn't more follow-up from lauer. yes, there were time constraints, but if he had dug deeper on specific questions, we might have come away knowing more about the candidates. you know, guys, a few years ago i wrote a book about the morning show wars. really a lot about matt lauer. i came away really respecting the man. he's one of the best broadca broadcasters alive today in america. in an event like this with limited time, this was a real struggle. i think journalists have to look at this event last night and wonder for the debates what kind of realtime fact checking can be done. >> yes, will this be instructive for all of the moderators coming up that when somebody says something erroneous, do they just let the other candidate fact check them, or do they jump in and say, that's not proven. >> there are some moments, not many of them, where facts are
very clear. on this issue about the iraq war, the facts are very clear. there's no documentation that trump can hold up and say, this proves i was against the war. >> one quick note on this h then i want to get away from us and talk about the people who matter, the candidates. >> we all have a great deal of respect for matt lauer, but again, this is a really big calling. you have to know your facts, and you have to be prepared. i almost think we're giving him too much credit. there are questions here like, what do you read in order to prepare for becoming president of the united states of america. what experience do you have. when donald trump doesn't answer those questions, you have to go as hard on him as you went on h hillary clinton on her e-mails. >> it's easy to criticize. i have a very long and known history with donald trump. you are damned if you do, you are damned if you don't. i'm living proof of that. >> don't we have to be damned then? >> i'm just saying it's easy to
criticize. when you go after him, you get criticized. let's talk about how they fared last night. how do you think clinton scruti. it carried her mood. >> she seemed to be caught off guard being questioned about these e-mails in detail. she should be questioned about them more. that might help her and voters move past it. it continues to come up at an event that should have been more about issues iraq and afghanistan war veterans face. >> i think it was hard for both of them. hillary clinton needed to give more succinct, concrete, and clear answers, especially on the e-mail issue. i think that's actually an issue that matters a lot to military men and women and to military veterans. they don't feel like they've had a clear answer on that from hillary clinton. that's the story for her. but donald trump needed to give actual answers and factual answers. he didn't do that last night. when he gets on stage with
hillary clinton at the same time and she goes up against him in terms of policy, in terms of concrete proposals, that's going to be a huge challenge for him. i think that's what we saw last night. >> that was a little preview for what we'll see. dylan, brian, thank you. >> last night was the easy version. they didn't have to be there at the same time. one thing is to be sure, last night was a big night for you. you got to see things about these two candidates that you have not seen before. there are moments from last night that are going to matter all the way through to election day. so let's get right to it. barack obama did not follow what our experts said to do. >> i don't think the guy is qualified to be president of the united states. >> we're going to defeat isis without committing ground troops. >> i have great judgment. >> we've got to do it with air power. we've got to do it with much more support for