Democrats defend Hillary Clinton's use of private email server

Several prominent Democrats hit the TV airwaves Sunday to defend Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private server for work-related emails while she was secretary of State, batting down claims that her presidential campaign has been damaged by the controversy.

Polls show a growing number of Americans believe the Democratic front-runner cannot be trusted, however, and questions about the email have dogged Clinton's campaign for weeks.

In a sign of Democrats' mounting concern, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was on the outs with Clinton for several years, appeared on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos to say he sees nothing wrong with her using a private server to send and receive unclassified government emails.

Richardson, who served as secretary of Energy in Bill Clinton's administration, said he might have set up the same system if he had had a Cabinet position in recent years.

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“I would have said, 'You know what? I don't want an official classified email system. I want to have my own private server,” he said. “Because of WikiLeaks, because of hacking, because of leaks.”

He compared it to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s use of a private email, even though Powell didn’t set up his own private server.

Clinton's campaign announced this month that it was turning over the private server and a thumb drive with backup copies of the work emails to the Justice Department, which is investigating whether a security breach occurred.

Richardson said he stands by his decision to endorse then-Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton in the 2008 presidential race, but said Clinton now is "the best candidate of all the candidates."

Ellen Tauscher, a former member of Congress from California who worked for the State Department under Clinton, offered similar support.

In hindsight, “some mistakes were made,” Tauscher said Sunday on Fox News.

Officials can “quibble about whether [some emails] should be reclassified” now, she said, but Clinton has repeatedly said she didn't send or receive information that was classified at the time it was sent or received.

As the Clinton campaign rolled out its defense, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he didn't think Clinton's campaign could survive the controversy.

In a telephone interview with Stephanopoulos, Trump said Clinton is "very damaged ... because of the email thing."

"Assuming she could get over that, which I just don't know how she possibly can," he said the GOP will have the upper hand whether Clinton or Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering entering the race, gets the Democratic nomination.

Trump took aim at one Republican rival, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose campaign has arguably suffered the most as Trump has shot up in the polls.

“I like him very much, but his state has not performed well,” Trump said. “People want to see real change, not Obama change. ... They want to see great change.”

Walker told Stephanopoulos that Trump is parroting the “talking points of the Democrats.”

“Our roads actually are better, our schools are better,” he said. Those arguments “didn’t work in the past, they’re not going to work now.”

But the two agreed on the Clinton email mess. It qualifies her, Walker said, to be "deceiver in chief."

For news about 2016 politics, President Obama and the Obama administration, follow me on Twitter: @cparsons

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