WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama actually did know that Hillary Clinton used a non-government email address when she was secretary of state, but didn’t know the extent of her private email system, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.
“I would not describe the numbers of emails as large. … He was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up,” Earnest said.
That’s a shift from Saturday, March 7, when Obama told CBS that he learned about Clinton’s private email system in the news.
“Mr. President, when did you first learn that Hillary Clinton used an email system outside the U.S. government for official business while she was secretary of state?” CBS News’ Bill Plante asked.
“Uh,” Obama replied, “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.”
Earnest dodged questions about the president’s knowledge of Clinton’s email practices, and how the administration should respond.
“I’m not going to get into a lot of detail. … The president did email with Secretary Clinton,” he said.
When asked what Obama will do to ensure that copies of all of Clinton’s emails were available to the public, Earnest dodged again. “That might be one step too far. It is the responsibility of the State Department,” he said.
If congressional leaders, such as Rep. Trey Gowdy, want copies of Clinton’s emails, they should contact the State Department, Earnest said.
“He should raise that directly with State Department officials,” said Earnest.
Earnest was also asked why there are large gaps in the email records sent by Clinton to the State Department, including a gap during a Clinton trip to the Middle East during which she was photographed using her Blackberry phone.
“Maybe she was using her Blackberry to read the news … or tweeting,” Earnest said.