Clinton on emails: I should have used government account
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton broke her silence Tuesday on a controversy that has cast a cloud on her likely presidential candidacy, defiantly saying she did nothing improper in exclusively using a private account for official emails while secretary of state. But she acknowledged destroying tens of thousands of emails she described as personal and conceded that she should have used a government account.
“I fully complied with every rule I was governed by,” Clinton said in a 20-minute news conference that marked her first comments on the controversy.
Clinton’s email practices have been closely scrutinized following revelations last week that she used a private email address and server for official government business. That raised questions about whether she was complying with regulations requiring government officials to preserve written communications involving official business.
While the controversy has not affected her status as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, it has upended her careful blueprint for the rollout of her 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton had planned to spend March touting her work on women’s issues and giving a handful of paid speeches before announcing her candidacy in early April.
Instead, she found herself standing before dozens of reporters at the United Nations addressing a matter that has revived questions of ethics and secrecy that have long trailed Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Her appearance came after her previously scheduled speech on women’s rights at the UN.
Before Tuesday’s news conference, Clinton’s only comment on the email disclosures had been a late-night tweet last week saying she wanted the State Department to make her emails public. Her decision to weigh in further came as Democratic allies began publicly pushing her to do so.
The Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects had no immediate response to Clinton’s explanations. But in a signal that the issue was unlikely to fade soon, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blasted Clinton’s comments as “completely disingenuous.”
“No one but Hillary Clinton knows if she handed over every relevant email,” Priebus said.
Clinton’s comments also appeared unlikely to quell efforts by Republican lawmakers to use the matter to bolster their investigation into the deaths of four Americans at a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Following the news conference, Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican leading the committee, said he planned to call her to testify at least twice.
A central question for Clinton over the past week has been why she chose not to use government email if she wasn’t trying to skirt federal rules that require officials’ communications to be archived.
She described her use of personal email as a matter of “convenience” and a way to avoid carrying two devices. She said that didn’t appear to be an issue at the time, but that in hindsight, it would have been “smarter” to use a government account as well as her personal one.
Last month, Clinton told an audience in Silicon Valley that she uses multiple electronic devices.
“I have an iPad, a mini-iPad, an iPhone and a BlackBerry,” Clinton said.
She said repeatedly Tuesday that she had taken “unprecedented steps” to provide the State Department her work-related communications. She described the missing personal emails as ones she wrote about her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s funeral, her yoga routine and other similar matters.
“No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect privacy,” she said.
Clinton left the Obama administration in early 2013, but didn’t turn over her written communications for nearly two years and only in response to a State Department request.
While Clinton insisted Tuesday that she was not violating any rules, she does appear to have gone against what the Obama White House has called “very specific guidance” that officials should use government email to conduct business.
She said she emailed her State Department colleagues on their government accounts and therefore expected her communications would be archived. She provided no evidence to support her assertions that her email system experienced no security breaches.
The department says it will take several months to review the material Clinton turned over last year. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that once the review is complete, the emails will be posted online for the public to see. Passages revealing anything from trade secrets to sensitive national security information could be redacted, in keeping with Freedom of Information Act guidelines.
Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Bradley Klapper, Jack Gillum and Stephen Braun contributed to this report.
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