White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday referred to the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email system as a possible “criminal investigation,” which Republicans quickly seized on as a critical slip just moments after President Obama endorsed Clinton for president.
Earnest was asked whether the FBI might be pressured to go easy on Clinton in the investigation in light of Obama’s endorsement, and used the term “criminal investigation” in his answer.
“That’s why the president, when discussing this issue in each stage, has reiterated his commitment to this principle that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any sort of political interference and that people should be treated the same way before the law regardless of their political influence, regardless of their political party, regardless of their political stature and regardless of what political figure has endorsed them,” he said.
Clinton has tried to downplay the investigation as a “security review,” but Republicans jumped at Earnest’s formulation as a sign it may be much worst for Clinton. The Republican National Committee sent out an email arguing that Earnest “lets slip that the FBI probe into her emails is criminal in nature.”