Scarborough grills Clinton campaign chief: 'What are you here for if you can't answer basic questions?'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook stumbled when pressed on how the Democratic presidential nominee's policy on Syria would differ from that of the current administration.

Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist grilled Mook on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about what Clinton would do about the Syrian civil war, which has dragged on for five years with no end in sight.

Toward the end of the questioning, host Joe Scarborough jumped in and confronted Mook, saying, "We love you, buddy, but what are you here for if you can't answer basic questions?"

Related: White Helmets of Syria

18 PHOTOS
White Helmets of Syria
See Gallery
White Helmets of Syria
Civil defence members carry a casualty after an airstrike at a field hospital in the rebel held area of al-Sukari district of Aleppo, Syria April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Civil defense members search for survivors under the rubble at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-controlled town of Ariha in Idlib province, Syria July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Civil defence members rescue a girl from under the rubble after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria February 14, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail 
Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz 
Civil Defence members with blood on their shirts stand after double airstrikes on the rebel held Bab al-Nairab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Omar Alwan, 21, a civil defence member, poses for a photograph in Idlib, Syria March 8, 2016. "Before the truce I wouldn't go out from the civil defence building because of my constant fear of the war planes. The first two days of the truce I had the same fear, but it began declining. I am expecting that the peace talks are serious this time," said Omar. "The war will not end in Syria until Bashar Al-Assad leaves." As peace talks are set to get under way in Geneva next week, residents in Syria from nurses to street vendors voice little optimism over the United Nations-backed negotiations' chance of success. The Geneva talks will coincide with the fifth anniversary of a conflict that began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad before descending into a multi-sided war that has drawn in foreign governments and allowed the growth of Islamic State. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi 
A Civil defence member looks for survivors at a site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo July 27, 2014. REUTERS/Hamid Khatib 
Civil defense members mourn the death of their comrade, who died during what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force, during his funeral in Ehsim town in the south of Idlib province, Syria, October 3, 2015. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Civil defence members hold a demonstration to children during a war safety awareness class in Deraa Governorate, Syria March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
A Civil Defence member reacts in a damaged site near the frame of a burnt vehicle after an airstrike on al-Jalaa street in the rebel held city of Idlib, Syria August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Residents and civil defense members look for survivors at a damaged site after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Al-Shaar nighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Civil defence members search for survivors after an airstrike at a field hospital in the rebel held area of al-Sukari district of Aleppo, Syria April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Smoke rises over a damaged site as Civil Defence members try to put out a fire after an airstrike on al-Jalaa street in the rebel held city of Idlib, Syria August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Civil defence members rest amid rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the rebel-held Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail Y
 A civil defence member carries a dead child in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria January 9, 2016. At least 70 people died in what activists said where four vacuum bombs dropped by the Russian air force in the town of Maaret al-Numan; other air strikes where also carried out in the towns of Saraqib, Khan Sheikhoun and Maar Dabseh, in Idlib. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi 
Civilians, with the help of Civil Defence members, position sanitation pipes as barricades to provide protection from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad who are stationed in Aleppo's historic citadel October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail 
A civil defence member carries an injured girl at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi 
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

It started with Mook seeming unwilling to answer policy questions posed by Geist and Barnicle.

"Hillary Clinton was secretary of state when this crisis began," Geist said. "What's her biggest regret about the way Syria's been handled?"

Clinton served as secretary of state under Obama from 2009 until 2013, and Mook pointed out that she wasn't in office when the Syrian crisis accelerated. Geist then noted that she was, however, serving in that role when the conflict started in 2011.

"Well, right, but, you know, yeah. She — I think she's well regarded for her leadership as Secretary of State," Mook said. "She came out of that office with a 70% approval rating."

Mook then pivoted to attack Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee.

"She in contrast to Donald Trump has released a clear and decisive plan to defeat ISIS," Mook said. "Donald Trump has said that he thinks he knows more about it than the generals and refuses to tell us what his secret plan is."

RELATED: Moments on the trail that have some concerned over Clinton's health

10 PHOTOS
Moments on the trail that have some concerned over Hillary Clinton's health
See Gallery
Moments on the trail that have some concerned over Hillary Clinton's health
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stops her speech to cough at the 11th Congressional District Labor Day festival at Luke Easter Park in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has a throat lozenge during a coughing fit in the final hour of a marathon testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up a glass of water as she struggles to contain a coughing fit as she speaks at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines while campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leaves ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks at the National 9/11 memorial The Hillary Clinton campaign disclosed she had been diagnosed with pneumonia, after a social media video appeared to show her swaying and her knees buckling as she left the memorial ceremony in New York. REUTERS/Brian Snyder 
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses to drink water after coughing as she speaks at the 11th Congressional District Labor Day festival at Luke Easter Park in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2016/02/16: Mrs. Clinton interrupted by coughing spasm during her speech. Presidential candidate and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at Shomburg Center on her plans for strengthening the Black community and improving opportunity for minorities if elected president. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses to drink water after coughing as she speaks at the 11th Congressional District Labor Day festival at Luke Easter Park in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 05: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pauses to take a drink of water to help soothe a cough during a campaign rally at Luke Easter Park on September 5, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Clinton is kicking off a Labor Day campaign swing to Ohio and Iowa on a new campaign plane large enough to accommodate her traveling press corp. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 26: Cough drops and a microphone sit on a stool for democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a campaign event on May 26, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in the San Francisco Bay Area ahead of California's presidential primary on June 7th. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton struggles to contain a coughing fit as she speaks at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines while campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Geist continued pressing him.

"What about in Syria, though? She supported the drawing of the red line," Geist said, referring to a "red line" from the Obama administration stipulating that the US would intervene if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.

Geist asked: "Obviously she was out of her office when Assad used chemical weapons. Was it a mistake to draw the red line if the president was not willing to do something about it when it was crossed?"

Mook again dodged.

"Well, as you pointed out, the decision regarding that was made after she was out of office so I think you'd have to ask President Obama," he said.

Geist then asked if Clinton was disappointed in the handling of the red line issue. Obama declined to strike Assad after evidence of the chemical weapons attack emerged, instead brokering a deal with Russia for the removal of the regime's arsenal of chemical weapons.

"I think you'd have to ask her about that question, how she would characterize it," Mook said.

Geist pointed out that Mook was "here to speak for" Clinton. But Mook again changed the subject to attack Trump.

"Look, what matters is what she is going to do as president," Mook said. "As I said, she has a clear plan to defeat ISIS. Donald Trump does not. It's a secret. He won't tell anybody what it is and he says he knows more than the generals. I think the choice is clear."

Barnicle later jumped in to press Mook further.

"So, Robby, we do realize that you are not secretary of state, but in the debate next Mondayevening how would Secretary Clinton respond to somewhat of a version of the following question, we've had a relief convoy bombed, potentially a war crime, leading into Aleppo," Barnicle said.

"What would you do, Secretary Clinton, about providing food, water, and medicine to the citizens of eastern Aleppo today, right now, differently than what the Obama administration is doing?"

But Mook again demurred.

"Again, I think you're going to have to ask her that question," Mook said. "That's a matter of policy and I'm going to leave it for her."

That's when Scarborough jumped in.

"We love you, buddy, but what are you here for if you can't answer basic questions?" Scarborough said.

"I mean, I don't know if there's a — I mean, we may be tiptoeing into Gary Johnson territory here if you don't know the answer to that basic of a question," he said, referring to the Libertarian presidential candidate appearing not to know about the crisis in Aleppo. "What is the response to Aleppo? Then why do we have you here?"

Mook stuck to his line.

"I think — look, you're asking new policy questions," he said. "You would have to ask the secretary."

Scarborough didn't back down.

"New? Aleppo's been around for — Syria's been around for some time," he said. "The red line being drawn has been around for some time. All. I'm not being difficult here at these are basic questions."

Mook stood his ground as well.

"I'm not being difficult either," he said. "I'm simply saying that she has laid out a plan to defeat ISIS and if there are new questions pertaining to Aleppo, I'm going to need to let her answer those, and she will answer those in the debate and we look forward to her having the opportunity to do that."

Read Full Story

People are Reading