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Clinton avoids email controversy at women’s event

March 9, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday ignored the growing controversy around her use of a private email account while at the U.S. State Department, even as a second Democratic senator urged her to address the issue.

The potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate was considering holding a news conference in New York in the coming days to address the email controversy directly, according to a person familiar with her thinking. The person spoke on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to speak publicly. The potential news conference was first reported by Politico.

Republicans are ramping up their attention on the issue.

Clinton is considered the leading contender for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination but hasn’t entered the race yet. Among the possible Republican candidates are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama knew she was using a nongovernment account during her tenure. Obama had indicated earlier that he only learned of that from recent news reports.

Earnest said the president actually learned from those news reports of Clinton’s privately run email server, but was familiar with her private account earlier because the two had exchanged emails when she was in office. Obama did not know at the time that she was using private email exclusively, Earnest said.

Clinton spoke at a carefully choreographed two-hour event involving her No Ceilings project at the Clinton Foundation, highlighting economic and educational opportunities for women and girls.

The Republican National Committee used the vacuum Monday to keep the pressure on Clinton, noting a State Department policy requiring all outgoing employees to turn over job-related materials before leaving.

Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement the “fact that Hillary Clinton did not abide by the same rules her State Department employees had to comply with is just the latest example of how the Clintons think the rules don’t apply to them.” Clinton left the State Department in early 2013. It was not immediately clear if Clinton signed the agreement but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the secretary of state is supposed to follow such department policies. A Clinton spokesman did not immediately comment.

In the past week, the State Department has faced a torrent of questions about Clinton’s email practices, increasingly referring them to Clinton and her team. Psaki, at her daily briefing Monday, repeatedly directed reporters’ questions about the topic to Clinton’s team.

Clinton is under scrutiny over whether she fully complied with federal laws requiring government officials to preserve written communications involving official business. Democrats have defended her, but Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has urged Clinton to offer a detailed explanation.

On Monday, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Clinton will probably address the matter — and should. “I think that you’re going to hear something from Secretary Clinton this week,” she said on MSNBC. “I’m fairly certain it will be soon. I think that’s very important.”

Last week, Clinton said in a Twitter message that she wanted her emails released by the State Department as soon as possible — but did not address why she does not put them out herself immediately.

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Thomas reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.

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