On Tuesday, breaking her nine-day silence on the private email controversy that has engulfed her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would have been smarter had she used an official government email account and declared that her server will “remain private” and closed to independent authorities.
“The server contains personal communications between my husband and me,” she declared. “I believe I have met all of my responsibilities, and the server will remain private.”
Though State Department employees are instructed follow department guidelines and federal regulations and laws that require officials to use government email accounts for official business, Clinton used a private email account
, hosted on a personal server, for all of her official business while she was Secretary of State.
“Looking back, it would have better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time this didn’t seem like an issue,” she said.
Clinton, claiming that she went “above and beyond” what she was required to do, said the vast majority of her work emails went to government employees at government addresses and are preserved on State Department servers. Clinton said that after she left the State Department, the department asked former secretaries of state “for our assistance” in providing work-related emails from our personal accounts. She said her team went through a through process to identify work -related emails. Clinton also said she took the “unprecedented step” of asking the State Department to make her emails public. She said in going through her emails, “there were over 60,000 in total sent and received.”
“Half were work related and about half were personal not related to work,” she said, emphasizing that she was “confident in the process that we conducted.”
Regarding her personal email server, Clinton claimed it was set up for her husband and “there were no security breaches.” She claimed that she did not email any classified email to anyone on her personal email and many of her “personal” emails have already been wiped from the server.
“At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal e-mails,” she said, claiming that emails she deemed to be “private” dealt with yoga routines and planning Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. “No one wants their personal emails made public. And I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.”
This weekend, President Barack Obama told CBS News that he found out about Clinton’s email scandal “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” Clarifying Obama’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed on Monday that though Obama and Clinton exchanged emails, Obama had no clue that Clinton was exclusively using her private account for all official business. Earnest said that “the point that the president was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s ‘s email address. He did. But he was not not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act.”
“Yes, the president was aware of her email address; he traded emails with her. That shouldn’t be a surprise, that the president of the United States is going to trade emails with the Secretary of State,” Earnest said. “But the president was not aware of the fact that this was a personal email server, and that this was the email address she was using exclusively for all her business. The president was not aware of that until that had been more widely reported.”
Clinton has reportedly turned over 55,000 pages (not 55,000 emails) of emails to the State Department, and the agency said that it will take months to review them. The State Department said on Tuesday that the emails will ultimately be posted online. The House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed Clinton’s emails last week and, as Breitbart News has noted, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the committee, said there are huge “gaps” in the Clinton emails. He “mentioned that his committee has not received any emails regarding Clinton’s trip to Libya even though the iconic picture of Clinton from that day shows her on a mobile device.”
“There are gaps of months and months and months. And if you think to that iconic picture of her on a C-17 flying to Libya, she has sunglasses on and she has her handheld device in her hand, we have no e-mails from that day. In fact, we have no e-mails from that trip, Gowdy said
on CBS’s Face the Nation
on Sunday. “So, it’s strange credibility to believe that if you’re on your way to Libya to discuss Libyan policy that there’s not a single document that has been turned over to Congress. So, there are huge gaps. And with respect to the president, it’s not up to Secretary Clinton to decide what is a public record and what’s not.”
The press conference, her first in two years, left more questions than answers.
There are still lingering questions about when administration officials actually knew that Clinton was exclusively using her private email account to conduct official business. The Associated Press reported
that the “White House counsel’s office was not aware at the time Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack.” Politico noted
that key Obama, Clinton, and State Department staffers “knew in August that House Republicans had received information showing that the former secretary of state conducted official government business through her private email account,” but Clinton’s staff decided to stay mum. The State Department changed its story
last week. After initially saying that the agency asked former Secretaries of State to search their personal email accounts after a “broad effort to update the State Department’s electronic record keeping effort,” State Department spokesperson Marie Hard conceded, as Politico noted, that Congress’s Benghazi investigation did play a role the agency’s decision to ask the former Secretaries to review their personal emails. As Breitbart News noted, Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told
Bloomberg Television last week “that she has never received an email from Clinton and did not know if anyone in the Obama administration did either,” and “Gawker’s John Cook revealed last week that he inquired about Clinton’s private email account in 2013 while doing a story on Sydney Blumenthal’s email hacks.”
Clinton did not address the controversy during at least three public appearances after the New York Times broke the story about her private emails last week. In her first public appearance after the story broke, Clinton made no mention of the controversy at an EMILY’s List Gala last Tuesday. Nor did she address it at a Clinton Foundation event in Miami on Saturday, which she attended instead of the 50th anniversary “Bloody Sunday” commemoration in Selma. And at a Monday Clinton Foundation event in New York, she took no questions while speakers who participated with her in an “informal conversation” may have been reading from teleprompters, according to an Associated Press report.
Clinton reportedly did not want to address the scandal until after she announced her presidential run, but she changed her mind after Sen. Dianne Feinstein was critical of her silence on Sunday’s Meet the Press
. White House aides have reportedly frustrated that they had to waste so much time doing “damage control” for the Clintons.
Clinton had earlier spoken at a United Nations event on women’s rights, commemorating her Beijing speech 20 years ago. But Clinton has also come under fire for her foundation’s hypocritical acceptance of millions in donations from repressive Middle Eastern regimes with downright awful records on women’s rights. Those shady donations may explain why she has been so hesitant to release all of her private emails related to her work at the State Department.
Clinton sidestepped questions about the donations, saying she was “very proud” of her foundation’s supporters and the work it has done. She said those who support the foundation “know full well what it is we stand for and what it is we’re working on.”
The New York Times reported this week that
“the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei — all of which the State Department has faulted over their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues.”
National Journal’s Ron Fournier noted
that her “secret communications cache is a bombshell deserving of full disclosure because of her assault on government transparency and electronic security. But its greatest relevancy is what the emails might reveal about any nexus between Clinton’s work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations.”
A Clinton source told him to “follow the foundation money” and the “emails are a related but secondary scandal.” Fournier asked, “Is the foundation clean? Is it corrupt? Or is the truth in the muddy middle, where we so often find the Clintons?” He noted that “due to the fact that Hillary Clinton chose to skirt federal regulations and house her State Department emails on an off-the-books server, even the most loyal Democrat can’t honestly answer those questions without an independent vetting of her electronic correspondence.”
“Without those emails, we may never be able to follow the money,” Fournier wrote. “Could that be why she hasn’t coughed up the server?”