Obama makes startling admissions in 60 Minutes interview

President Obama was visibly annoyed to face persistent questions from CBS’s Steve Kroft in a 60 Minutes interview the likes of which the president has not had to endure.  At one point, Kroft accused Obama of “filibustering” – a common tactic of his, but one which he has never, to my recollection, been taken to task about.

The two most notable moments are excerpted below from the CBS transcript.  Faced with questioning over the challenge from Vladimir Putin and the question of who has the leadership, Obama reverted to a cringe-worthy proclamation that his leadership on climate change and the Iran nuclear sellout is what really counts.  In part two of the interview, he made three notable declarations on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.  One, that it didn’t constitute a national security threat, despite the fact that ongoing FBI investigations have yet to reach their conclusions.  Two, that Mrs. Clinton made a “mistake” in her handling of emails.  Three,  that questions about the matter are “legitimate.”

I get the impression that the president was somewhat rattled to face the sort of serious questions that other politicians routinely have to field.  The question that must be bothering him this morning is whether or not other interviewers will take the hint from Kroft and treat his year-plus in office as the chance to make up for previous journalistic defaults.

I am sure Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, and GloZell will be willing to give him more airtime.

Steve Kroft: He's challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He's challenging your leadership—

President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we've got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we'll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we've got a 60-country coalition that isn't suddenly lining up around Russia's strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.

On the Hillary Clinton email scandal:

Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton's use of private email server--

President Barack Obama: No.

Steve Kroft: --while she was Secretary of State?

President Barack Obama: No.

Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?

President Barack Obama: I don't think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and-- you know, as a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it's been ginned-up is in part because of-- in part-- because of politics. And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But--

Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?

President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season.

Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not-- not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?

President Barack Obama: Well, I'm not going to comment on--

Steve Kroft: You think it's not that big a deal--

President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered.

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