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Obama 'guarantees' Clinton e-mail investigations to be fair
[WASHINGTON] President Barack Obama says he can guarantee there will be no political interference from his administration in a continuing probe of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's e-mail practices.
"I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI," Mr Obama said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday," adding that he doesn't talk to attorney general Loretta Lynch or to the FBI about pending investigations.
"That is, institutionally, how we have always operated." "We have a strict line, and always have maintained it," Mr Obama told Fox's Chris Wallace in in a session taped at the University of Chicago on April 7.
"Nobody gets treated differently when it comes to the Justice Department, because nobody is above the law."
Pressed to comment on the disclosure that some 2,000 of Mrs Clinton's e-mails contained classified information and 22 were thought to have "top-secret" information, Mr Obama registered some skepticism of the government's classification process.
"What I also know, because I handle a lot of classified information, is that there are - there's classified, and then there's classified," Mr Obama said.
"I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America's national security," Mr Obama said of Mrs Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to succeed him in the Oval Office.
Mr Obama spoke at length of the fight to confirm Merrick Garland as Supreme Court justice. He said he looks for the Republican-led Senate to "evolve" on its refusal to hold a hearing on Mr Garland.
"Things will evolve as people get familiar with Judge Garland's record. As it becomes apparent that the overwhelming majority of the American people think that the President nominates somebody to the Supreme Court, and the Senate should now do its constitutional job and give him a hearing," Mr Obama said.
Pressing the Senate Obama is pressing the Senate to hold a hearing on Mr Garland, his nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by Antonin Scalia's death in February. Top Republicans, including majority leader Mitch McConnell, have said they don't plan to hold a hearing with the nominee. An increasing number of Republican lawmakers have agreed to meet privately with him.
As he did in a speech to the University of Chicago law school on April 7, Mr Obama said Republicans' refusal to consider Mr Garland on the grounds that Mr Obama's term will soon end risked setting a dangerous precedent: "Because if that happens, Chris, then it is almost impossible to expect that that the Democrats - let's say a Republican president won - that the Democrats wouldn't say the exact same thing. They'll say, 'Let's wait for four years, and we'll take our chances on the next president.'"
Mr Obama's first appearance on "Fox News Sunday" since being elected in 2008 was part of an effort by the president to take his message to voters, including Republicans who typically favor Fox news channels.
An increasing number of Republican Senators have agreed to meet privately with Mr Garland, including some who face re-election fights this year.
In the coming week, Mr Garland has meetings scheduled with Republican senators Chuck Grassley, of Iowa; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska; Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania; Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire; Rob Portman, of Ohio; and Jeff Flake, of Arizona, as well as with independent Angus King, of Maine, White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said Friday.
Mr Obama returned to Washington late on Saturday after headlining four fundraisers in Los Angeles and San Francisco to raise money for Democratic candidates for the House and Senate.
His messages to wealthy backers was that being engaged - and turning out to vote in November - is imperative if Democrats want to gain seats in either chamber of Congress.
'Lot At Stake'
"There's an awful lot at stake in this election," Mr Obama said at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Friday at the home of oilman Gordon Getty and his wife, interior designer Ann Getty.
"And I want to make sure that everybody here feels the same sense of urgency I do."
Speaking in a soaring ballroom in the Getty's opulent house overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Mr Obama said the stakes are high in this year's election. He had earlier spoken at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in San Francisco that was closed to the press, and a breakfast in Los Angeles at the home of "Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire to raise money for the Democratic National Committee.