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Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and found himself having to answer questions about former Sec. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Questions that he and Clinton will continue to face, especially since the former Secretary of State seems to raise more questions every time she gives an answer on the topic.
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday" last week, Clinton claimed FBI director James Comey found her answers on the controversy “truthful” and “consistent” with her past public statements. That comment earned her a “4 Pinocchio” rating from the Washington Post fact-checker.
Kaine, attempting to explain, said he thought “Chris Wallace and Hillary were sort of talking past each other last week.”
He continued, “She was saying what Director Comey acknowledged to be true, that when she spoke to the FBI ... the FBI thought her answers in that setting were truthful. Chris might have been asking her a different question."
After Kaine’s interview on “Meet the Press,” Clinton further muddied her own comments on the subject. Appearing at a conference of black and Hispanic journalists, she said she “may have short-circuited” her answer on Fox and added she would “try to clarify.”
Kaine was further asked if he and Clinton would be more transparent in the White House. He demurred, “I am not presumptuous enough to start thinking about how I’m going to do things after November.”
However, he added, “I know that is this something that she’s learned from, and we’re going to be real transparent, absolutely.”
'Hiding under their desks'
On recent U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Libya, Kaine stood by his “long-held position” that the U.S. should not “be in an offensive war against ISIL without Congressional authorization.”
Clinton, he says, agrees that “Congress should do its job instead of hiding under their desks, and have a debate, and have a vote on military action against ISIL.”
Kaine pushed back on the notion that he and Clinton diverge on this issue, even though Clinton has said during this campaign the war authorization Congress passed in 2001 “certainly” covers the fight against ISIS.
“I have very grave doubts about whether the legal authorities currently in place allow us to wage an offensive war against ISIL,” he said. “But Secretary Clinton and I get to exactly the same spot” on pushing Congress to authorize military action.
On Syria, Kaine toed the line between his past support for President Obama’s war authorization in Congress and acknowledging “challenges” that came from drawing a red line with the country.
“What the president did, was he brought a war authorization request to Congress. On the Foreign Relations Committee, I voted for it,” Kaine explained.
But after that happened, he continued, the U.S. was “able to broker a deal to have Syria get rid of one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the country. That was a positive.”
The problem came, however, from “a mixed message sent about whether or not Assad must go.”
Ultimately, according to Kaine, “Wisely, we chose not to make the deposing of the leader of another country the priority. That raised some expectations; that was probably unfortunate.”
He acknowledged that in “retrospect, we could do things differently.”
'I’m going to vote for him'
Finally, Kaine seemingly left the door open for replacing Merrick Garland as nominee to the Supreme Court should he and Clinton win the White House and Democrats take back a majority in the Senate.
Asked if he believed Garland’s nomination should be taken up in a lame duck session of Congress, Kaine did not exactly give a straight answer.
“This will be for the president and the president-elect to decide,” he said.
If his nomination does come up for a vote, Kaine says, “Of course I’d vote for him.”
Pressed on if it was certain that Garland’s nomination remains if he and Clinton win in November, Kaine punted. “I think the Dems may well take the Senate. In fact, I think we’re going to,” he explained.
“But it will be the Republican majority that will be running the floor until the next Senate comes in place,” he continued. “I have no idea whether they will allow the nomination to be taken up. They pledged that they won’t.”
“But if it does,” Kaine concluded, “I’m going to vote for him”