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Updated: In one-on-one interview, Clinton talks issues, calls Planned Parenthood videos 'disturbing'


Calling them “disturbing,” Hillary Clinton said undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue raise questions about the process nationwide.

“I have seen pictures from them and I obviously find them disturbing,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said during a sit-down interview Tuesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions. I think there are two points to make,” Clinton said. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”

“And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one part of it,” she said.

Clinton addressed the controversy after the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos of a Planned Parenthood representative discussing fetal tissue extraction, cost and transportation.

Republican presidential hopefuls have condemned it and called for public defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood, in a statement after the videos surfaced, said some women who have abortions choose to donate tissue for scientific research, and that there is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood claims the Center for Medical Progress used “heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation.”

Clinton, long a supporter of abortion rights, was asked whether she is concerned the videos will jeopardize funding for abortion services and women’s health care. Funding today is at no more risk than it has been for years, she said.

“I’m well aware that passions are very high,” Clinton said. “I have said for more than 22 years that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. As First Lady, I led an effort to try to lower the number of teenage pregnancies and we succeeded, and as President I will continue to work toward that so that women are fully empowered, they can afford to make responsible decisions, and I hope we will be successful at that.”

Clinton was asked in the interview to name her top two achievements as Secretary of State.

"If I had to pick two, I would say, No. 1, putting together the coalition that imposed sanctions on Iran, which I did for the first 18 months that I was Secretary of State, culminating first in the Security Council deciding that, including Russia and China, they would impose sanctions,” Clinton responded. “And then continuing with a persistent effort to actually enforce those sanctions, which made it possible for us to get to the negotiating table to determine whether there was an agreement that we could be behind.”

“I think on the other issues, whether it was forming better communication or cooperation with China, or reaching out to our allies in Europe who felt very neglected, putting together an economic strategy in the State Department to win and keep American jobs — something very important to me — standing up for Internet freedom ... there’s just a long list.”

Clinton was asked whether there is anything in the Iran nuclear deal that makes her uncomfortable.

“I’d start from the fundamental premise — I don’t trust the Iranians,” she said. “This is not Ronald Reagan’s ‘trust but verify.’ This is don’t trust and verify. And I have no illusions about the regime we’re dealing with. You don’t make peace or agreements with your friends. You do it with adversaries. I think it’s a deal that if vigorously enforced, which is what I would do as President, will keep the lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And I think that’s in the security interest of the United States, of Israel and the region.”

Transcript of Union Leader interview with Hillary Clinton:

Question: I wanted to ask you about the Planned Parenthood videos. Have you seen those?

Clinton: "I have seen pictures from them and I obviously find them disturbing. Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions. I think there are two points to make. One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about, you know, the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country. And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one part of it.”

Question: Quick question, follow-up. As you mentioned out there, there is a fundamental right, or fundamental protection ...

Clinton: Yes, that’s what the Supreme Court said …

Question: Are you worried that the videos and the controversy might lead to activist groups chipping away at the funding for abortions and women’s services?

Clinton: "Well, there is no funding that, you know, would be any more at risk than it already has been for years because this has been an ongoing dispute, and I’m well aware that passions are very high. I have said for more than 22 years that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. And as First Lady, I led an effort to try to lower the number of teen-age pregnancies and we succeeded, and as President I will continue to work toward that so that women are fully empowered, they can afford to make responsible decisions, and I hope that we will be successful with that.”

Question: What were your two biggest achievements as Secretary of State?

Clinton: "Well, I think there were many because we inherited a lot of problems in the world. If I had to pick two, I would say, No. 1, putting together the coalition that imposed sanctions on Iran, which I did for the first 18 months that I was Secretary of State, culminating first in the Security Council deciding that, including Russia and China, they would impose sanctions. And then continuing with a persistent effort to actually enforce those sanctions, which made it possible for us to get to the negotiating table to determine whether there was an agreement that we could be behind. I think on the other issues, whether it was forming better communication and cooperation with China, or reaching out to our allies in Europe who felt very neglected, putting together an economic strategy in the State Department to win and keep American jobs – something very important to me – standing up for Internet freedom ... there’s just a long list. But I put the Iran sanctions at the top of it because that’s in the news today."

Question: Speaking of the Iran deal itself, is there anything in that deal at this point that makes you squirm, that makes you uncomfortable?

Clinton: “Well, I’d start from the fundamental premise -- I don’t trust the Iranians. This is not Ronald Reagan’s ‘trust but verify.’ This is don’t trust and verify. And I have no illusions about the regime we’re dealing with. You don’t make peace or agreements with your friends. You do it with adversaries. I think it’s a deal that if vigorously enforced, which is what I would do as president, will keep the lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And I think that’s in the security interest of the United States, of Israel and the region.”

Question: This morning, of course, you were asked about the Keystone pipeline. If you were President today, and that came across your desk, would you approve it?

Clinton: “You know I can’t answer that and I won’t answer it because I am, No. 1, not President, and No. 2, I was the Secretary of State who started the process and it’s not, in my view, appropriate for me to be commenting on an ongoing process that I had a role in, in beginning. And this is going to be up to Secretary Kerry and President Obama. I will certainly express an opinion once they make a decision and, as I also said this morning, if they don’t make a decision before they leave office, when I’m President I will make a decision, and I will explain what my decision would be.”

Question: And you knew of course that you were going to get some of your opponents raising that issue -- that you should answer.

Clinton: “None of them were Secretary of State. They can say with absolute freedom, with no threat of looking like I’m interfering, or maybe even inviting lawsuits over which way it goes. They are in a totally different position. I have taken strong stands on many, many issues and I will continue to do so. This is one, though, because of my prior responsibilities that it is not appropriate for me to do so.”

Question: If an investigation does find that there was classified material in the email system over your private server, should… what should the consequences be of that?

Clinton: “There was none. There was no classified -- there was no material that was marked classified that was sent to, or that I sent, at all. So, this is not what this is about, and you can go to my website and you can understand the complicated and unfortunate inaccuracies that have been indulged in in describing this situation.”

Question: (There’s) a progressive checklist out there in the Democratic primary. One of  your opponents, of course, is Bernie Sanders, he’s coming on strong. What are two big policy differences between you and your former Senate colleague?

Clinton: “Look, I’m not going to be criticizing my fellow Democrats. I’m going to be criticizing the Republicans. There will be time for all of us to debate during the course of this and let voters pick their own candidate and make their own minds up. But I’m not going to be criticizing any of my Democratic opponents for the sake of doing that. I want to talk about what I’m for and roll out my agenda.”

dtuohy@unionleader.com

(This article was updated, with the addition of the transcript of the question-and-answer session, at 2:15 p.m. on July 29, 2015)


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