President Barack Obama accused Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential primary debate eight years ago of not actually “turning the page” on history by refusing to give permission to the National Archives to release communications between herself and her husband, President Bill Clinton.
“This is an example of not turning the page. We have just gone through one of the most secretive administrations in our history, and not releasing, I think, these records at the same time, Hillary, as you’re making the claim that this is the basis for your experience, I think, is a problem,” then-Senator Obama said at the time to debate moderator Tim Russert.
“Part of what we have to do is invite the American people back to participate in their government again. Part of what we need to do is rebuild trust in our government again.”
Clinton, who eventually served as Obama’s secretary of state during his first term, is now under fire for conducting business with a private e-mail address that was attached to a personal server. Obama told CBS he first learned about Clinton’s use of a private email address “through news reports,” implying that he never personally corresponded through email with the secretary of state.
When asked if he was disappointed by Clinton’s use of private-emails, Obama responded, “Hillary Clinton is and has been an outstanding public servant. She was a great secretary of state for me. The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency and that’s why my e-mails, the Blackberry that I carry around, all those records are available and archived and I’m glad that Hillary’s instructed that those e-mails that had to do with official business be disclosed.”
He later added, I think the fact that she’s going to be putting them forward will allow us to make sure that people have the information they need.”
However, White House spokesman Josh Ernest revealed on Monday that the president did indeed communicate with Clinton. “The president did trade e-mails with his secretary of state. I would not describe the number of e-mails as large,” he said.
“The point that the president was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address, he did. But he was 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.”
When pressed further about it he continued, “The point is the president did email with Secretary Clinton. I assume that he recognized the email address that he was emailing back to.”