Hillary Clinton: ‘It would have been better’ to use two emails
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former secretary of state and likely 2016 White House aspirant Hillary Clinton sought to tamp down concerns about her use of private email while leading the State Department during a press conference at the United Nations on Tuesday. While she maintained she had not broken any rules, she also said she would not be turning over the private servers housing her correspondence, despite calls for her to release it for an independent review.
Clinton said she used a private domain for her official work during her time at the State Department out of “convenience,” but admitted in retrospect “it would have been better” to use multiple emails.
“I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she said. “Looking back, it would have been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.”
The former secretary of state defended her process in choosing which emails to turn over to the State Department, telling reporters that she and her staff “err[ed] on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work-related.”
“I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters and I feel like I’ve taken unprecedented steps for these emails to be in the public domain,” Clinton said. “I went above and beyond what I was requested to do.”
But that reassurance will likely fall short for critics who point out there’s no way of verifying her team turned over all government-related emails no matter how politically damaging they may be.
In a 20-minute press conference, Clinton answered an array of questions raised by the revelation that she exclusively used a private server and domain for her official business during her time at state.
She said that the 55,000 pages of correspondence she turned over to the State Department for review made up about half, or 30,000, of the overall 60,000 emails she sent and received with the private server.
The other 30,000 — which included everything from wedding planning to yoga routines, Clinton said — she deleted.
She also said she didn’t use the server to send any classified information, but asserted that there were no security breaches on the server anyway. It was housed, Clinton told reporters, on private property, guarded by Secret Service and had been set up for President Bill Clinton’s use.
The press conference was an unexpected and unwanted end to a day Clinton allies had hoped would be focused on her work advocating for women’s rights globally, with a speech at the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles event. Clinton used the speech to discuss her “No Ceilings” report on the conditions for women and girls globally and propose solutions for the challenges they still face.
But with the controversy surrounding her use of a personal email server and domain during her time at State continuing into its second week, Clinton had to follow the speech at the U.N. with a hastily arranged a press conference.
It was her first large engagement with reporters in five months, since she gaggled with the press during a political event in Iowa last September.
Media attention around Tuesday’s event was more heightened than usual, but the focus appeared to be on emails.
Outside the event early on, reporters lined up to shout questions at both Hillary and Bill Clinton in vain. Neither responded to repeated questions about the email controversy.
The State Department did offer details on how the emails would be released prior to Clinton’s press conference. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said after the review of the 55,000 pages of documents — which would take months — they would be posted on a publicly accessible website. The 300 emails pertaining to the request made by the congressional committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, amounting to about 900 pages, will be released first.
Psaki said the review wouldn’t cost taxpayers anymore than a review of emails sent entirely through an official State Department email would, as both are done with hard-copy printouts.
While Clinton allies are breathing a sigh of relief that she’s finally decided to break the silence, the past three weeks of controversies, which began with scrutiny of her family foundation’s donors last month, has taken its toll.
Though few Democrats other than Clinton are readying a potential campaign, Democratic critics already wary of her expected presidential candidacy found further evidence Clinton needs to face a credible primary challenge to prepare for the general election.
The controversy has even strained relations with the Obama administration, which has been forced to answer for her use of a private email server as she’s remained silent on the issue.
With a more formal campaign launch expected as soon as next month, Clinton’s Tuesday has been transformed from a victory lap to a high-stakes dance with the press.