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SWEET: Clinton should not use Comey testimony as a testimonial

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a joint conference of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Washington on Friday. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Friday tried to unscramble a mess she made in an interview last Sunday, discussing her use of private e-mail servers while secretary of state.

I’m not sure she cleared things up altogether when she said she “may have short-circuited” what she meant to say in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace last Sunday.

At a conference of black and Hispanic journalists, Clinton said Friday she was trying to “clarify’ her since-debunked Sunday statement about her emails.

GOP rival Donald Trump declined an invitation to speak to the joint gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Clinton’s email controversy has been dogging her since before she launched her presidential bid and is a central element of attacks used against her by Trump and others.

Still, with Trump’s series of self-inflicted controversies in the past days, Clinton is leading in national and swing state polls. A Friday McClatchy-Marist national poll has her up 15 points.

A former CIA acting director, Michael Morell, wrote in a Friday New York Times op-ed that Russian President Vladimir Putin – a former intelligence agent himself – has played Trump. Trump fell for Putin’s flattering remarks, turning him into an “unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” Morrell said.

Just as Trump has been flailing for the past week, Clinton reignited the email controversy by her clumsy handling of Wallace’s question last Sunday.

FBI Director James Comey declined to recommend charges against Clinton over her emails and the Justice Department agreed with him — even as he leveled blistering criticism of Clinton for using private servers.

Comey was equally blunt about Clinton’s email shortcomings when he appeared before the Republican-led House Oversight Committee last July.

Last Sunday, Clinton told Wallace: “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

The Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gave Clinton “Four Pinocchios” – the harshest rating – for that that answer. “Clinton is cherry-picking statements by Comey to preserve her narrative about the unusual setup of a private email server. This allows her to skate past the more disturbing findings of the FBI investigation,” he concluded.

In the wake of all the Pinocchios, NBC’s Kristen Welker asked Clinton on Friday if she was “mischaracterizing Director Comey’s testimony, and is this not undercutting your efforts to rebuild trust with the American people? “

Clinton replied: “I was pointing out in both of those instances, that the Director Comey had said that my answers in my FBI interview were truthful.

“That’s really the bottom line, here. And I have said, during the interview, and in many other occasions over the past months, that what I told the FBI, which he said was truthful, is consistent with what I have said publicly. So I may have short-circuited it, and for that, I, you know, will try to clarify, because I think Chris Wallace and I were probably talking past each other because of course, he could only talk to what I had told the FBI and I appreciated that.

“Now, I have acknowledged repeatedly that using two e-mail accounts was a mistake and I take responsibility for that. But I do think, you know, having him say that my answers to the FBI were truthful and then, I should quickly add, what I said was consistent with what I had said publicly. And that’s really sort of, in my view, trying to tie both ends together.”

I don’t think those ends are tied together yet.

What’s important is that Comey did conclude there was no evidence Clinton lied to the FBI.

Clinton mistake is trying to use Comey’s testimony as a testimonial.