March 8th, 2015
09:47 AM ET

CNN EXCLUSIVE: Fmr. Amb. Scott Gration speaks out on Clinton e-mails

CNN’s State of the Union features an exclusive interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, who was forced to resign in part after using a personal email account to conduct official business. Host Michael Smerconish gets the Ambassador’s reaction to the recent revelation that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account during her time as Secretary of State.

Text highlights and full transcript available after the jump.

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Gration on if a double standard is at play: “As I've reflected on it in the last couple of days, it does appear like there was a different standard that was used in my case and that has been used in hers.”

Gration on Chief of Staff of the State Department Cheryl Mills citing his use of personal email as a reason to move on: “Secretary Clinton and Cheryl Mills were in very close dialogue on all issues and I know that in my view, that she would have known that Secretary Clinton was not using the open net. So I do find it sort of unusual that she stated that this was one of the reasons why I had to move on.  And that as I look back, it seems a bit unfair.”

Gration on the end of his public career: “For me, this was a dream job.  It was a job where I felt I was making a significant difference in light of America's interests and what we were trying to do here and to protect Americans.  And to have that terminated over some allegations that were, in the end, proven to be false.  And I was exonerated and -  these claims were dismissed.  And to see this dream job of mine come to an end was very disappointing to me. And to now find out that in reality, other people in the Department, to include my supervisors, were doing things differently and were looking the other way, I think that's hard.”

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST:  Mr. Ambassador, given that which has now been revealed about Secretary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account, in retrospect, do you believe that your firing represents a double standard?

SCOTT GRATION:  As I look back, it - may have.  As I was going through it, I did not perceive that it was a double standard because I did not know of Secretary Clinton's use of a commercial e-mail account.  But as I've reflected on it in the last couple of days, it does appear like there was a different standard that was used in my case and that has been used in hers.

SMERCONISH:  It occurs to me as I read the inspector general report pertaining to your tenure in office - and there was much more in this report than just e-mail, but there's also language that speaks to you being reluctant to accept clear-cut U.S. government decisions pertaining to, quote, "The non-use of commercial e-mail for official government business."

That's language that seemingly would apply to what she has done.

GRATION:  That's true.  The language should apply to all of us, since we were all in the State Department.

But I need to correct something.

First of all, I would say that I was complying.  I used the open net at work and in my residence.  But at the same time, I questioned some of the policy and tried to get some of it changed.  And so I wasn't avoiding it, I wasn't flouting it, I wasn't being in non-compliance.  But I did raise some serious questions about the use of commercial accounts, because I thought that they were helpful to me in the course of my duties as the ambassador to Kenya.

In reality, I wasn't using my personal computer in the embassy.  I did not have it there.

But I did have access to Gmail, because I could get alerts.  I could get breaking news that was happening around the world.  I could get indications of possibly terrorist activities that is needed to respond to, sometimes faster than it came through the official channels.

SMERCONISH:  And, again, what I'm trying to do, sir, is understand both the parallels and the differences between your case and Secretary Clinton's case.

It occurs to me that the chief of staff for the Department of State, Cheryl Mills, is the individual who fired you, again, in part, because of your use of a private e-mail account.

Do you presume that Ms. Mills would have known, at the time she fired you, that Secretary Clinton was herself using a private e-mail account?

GRATION:  In the end, we'll have to ask Cheryl Mills that question.  But I would assume that she knew.  Secretary Clinton and Cheryl Mills were in very close dialogue on all issues and I know that in my view, that she would have known that Secretary Clinton was not using the open net.

So I do find it sort of unusual that she stated that this was one of the reasons why I had to move on.  And that as I look back, it seems a bit unfair.

SMERCONISH:  Well, let me just drill down on that one step further.  Presumably, the secretary of State would have e-mailed, Secretary Clinton would have e-mailed the chief of staff for the Department of State.  And to the extent such e-mails would have taken place, then Ms. Mills would have seen she's communicating with me via a private e-mail account, not our department server.

GRATION:  I see it the same way, but I was not there and these are questions that we'll have to ask Cheryl Mills.

But certainly, one could make that assumption and it seems very, very logical.

SMERCONISH:  And, finally, sir, you've had such a distinguished career, a career that I think I should point out included flying 274 combat missions in Iraq.  That public career has come to an end because of this issue and some of the things.  I've made that very clear.

How does that make you feel, to watch the news unfold with regard to Secretary Clinton, knowing that this brought a stop to your public career?

GRATION: For me, this was a dream job.  It was a job where I felt I was making a significant difference in light of America's interests and what we were trying to do here and to protect Americans.  And to have that terminated over some allegations that were, in the end, proven to be false.  And I was exonerated and -  these claims were dismissed.  And to see this dream job of mine come to an end was very disappointing to me.

And to now find out that in reality, other people in the Department, to include my supervisors, were doing things differently and were looking the other way, I think that's hard.

So I didn't break any laws willfully.  If I made mistakes, I apologize for those.  But I don't believe I did anything wrong.  And I can't speak the same for Secretary Clinton.  Other people have to make that decision.  She'll have to work that out herself.

SMERCONISH:  Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us from Nairobi.

GRATION:  Well, thank you very much, Michael.

I appreciate the opportunity.

SMERCONISH:  Thank you, sir.

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