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More Twitter trouble dogs Trump, Clinton’s FBI interview

It started as a really bad weekend for Hillary Clinton after her husband’s tarmac meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and word that Mrs. Clinton was to be interviewed by federal agents. Donald Trump stepped all over that with a tweet that some considered anti-Semitic. John Yang talks to Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

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    And now to Politics Monday, Independence Day edition.

    For that, I’m joined now by Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report and a columnist for The Washington Post, and Tamara Keith, NPR White House correspondent.

    Stu, Tam, welcome.


    Thank you.


    It’s a holiday, but it’s not a holiday from Donald Trump’s tweets and Donald Trump tweet controversy.

    He sent one out over the weekend. He referred to Hillary Clinton as the most corrupt candidate ever, no surprise. But it looked like — the words were on a six-pointed star over a sea of cash. People quickly picked up it out on social media, said it was a Star of David.

    Hillary Clinton released a statement today. She called it blatantly anti-Semitic. Trump took it back, killed the tweet, and also said that the dishonest media was depicting the star in the tweet as a Star of David, rather than a sheriff’s star or a plain star.


  • STUART ROTHENBERG, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report:

    Well, we always — I carry sheriff’s stars around with me all the time and use them in my tweets too.


    To make points.



    Look, John, it’s another day of Donald Trump, it’s another controversy, it’s another instance. And if we hadn’t done this six, eight, ten, 20 times before, maybe you could say, oh, this was a mistake or this was misinterpreted.

    But there’s a whole series of these and this is who the man is. And this is what the campaign is. The campaign isn’t field organization or TV ads. It’s tweets, and controversial tweets.


    Do you think he knows what the connotation is to these things, or does he not notice them or…


    Oh, I would certainly hope — he is an adult. He ought to know. He is a 70-year-old man who claims to be knowledgeable, and know some history, and of course he should know. I don’t understand and the campaign doesn’t explain, does it? They don’t tell you how this happens.


    So, there’s reporting out there from this news organization Mic that this image was not generated by the Trump campaign.

    It came from a dark place in the Internet where you find white supremacist things like this. And his campaign, we have asked. My colleagues at NPR, we’ve been in touch with his campaign repeatedly all weekend long, saying, where did this image come from, how did this happen, why did you then take it down, what do you have to say for this?

    And there’a been no response. If it weren’t a pattern, if it hadn’t happened many times before — and Trump has been slow to either disavow, say, oh, gosh, fired that intern or — and this tweet that he sent out was really justifying it, rather than disavowing it.


    And, Tamara, the candidate you have been following most closely, Secretary Hillary Clinton, had her own sort of damage control this past week, meeting — a tarmac meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton.

    This all sort of blew up also. How did she handle it, and do you think she handled it well?


    Well, so I want to just talk about one other thing, which is she had an interview with the FBI. That should have been the news all weekend long.

    And because Donald Trump tweeted that thing out, some of the attention was taken away from what was a very bad day for Hillary Clinton. You have the party’s presumptive nominee sitting down for a three-and-a-half-hour interview with the FBI about an issue, her e-mail server, that has been dogging her the entire campaign.

    This comes on the heels of the tarmac situation, which both President Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch say they wouldn’t do again. That casts a question over the entire investigation.

    Donald Trump is very easily going to be able to say, well, it’s rigged. They had a chat on an airplane. And there is not going to be a good answer to that reasonable doubt that he’s raising.


    Stu, in these investigations, they end, usually…


    They never end.


    They never will.

    If they end with an indictment, we know about it. If they end without an indictment, the FBI policy is not to say anything.


    Yes. Well, certainly, this was a very bad few days for the former secretary of state, lot of negative coverage, lot of negative news, lot of questions about the tarmac.

  • It was terribly embarrassing. So I think it was a big news day, a big news event, but I think in the long term in terms of the election itself, the campaign and then the election, it’s less of a dramatic event, for this reason:

    We’re either going to get an indictment or we’re not going to get an indictment.

    And if we get to the Democratic Convention and there’s no indictment, I don’t know. Maybe we will hear that the investigation has concluded and that there are some report or comments. But in any case, we’re going to go to a different phase of the campaign.

    And so this is bad for her today. I agree completely. The idea of Donald Trump stepping on Hillary Clinton’s terrible news is ridiculous from a political point of view. But so she had a bad few days, and I think this will pass. Big news event, not big impact on the campaign.


    Yes. And law enforcement forces tell NPR’s Carrie Johnson that they do not anticipate an indictment in this case.

    The fact that Clinton has sat for this interview means that — typically, that means that it’s nearing an end, when the principal sits down for an interview.


    And, Tamara, we are going to go to a new phase of the campaign tomorrow, President Obama appearing for the first time with the candidate who wants to replace him.


    Yes. And he wants her to replace him.

    They will be campaigning together in South Carolina — or — sorry — North Carolina, which is an important swing state, one that President Obama won narrowly in 2008, lost narrowly in 2012. The Clinton campaign sees it as a target state. They’ve been running ads there. Then Donald Trump has scheduled an event in the evening also in North Carolina.


    A little counterprogramming. Stu, he’s not on the ballot, but, in less than a minute, does the president have coattails that could help Hillary?


    Well I think he could help in terms of enthusiasm, generating turnout among African-Americans and possibly among younger voters.

    Sure. Job numbers are good. Poll numbers are up. Right now, he’s an asset. We will see if that continues, but certainly. And North Carolina is absolutely an important state. It is bigger than Wisconsin in terms of electoral votes. We talk about Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. North Carolina is a big deal.


    Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, happy Fourth of July.


    To you, too.





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