Hillary Clinton on Tuesday finally took questions about the revelation that she exclusively used private email accounts to conduct official business while serving as secretary of state, claiming in an highly anticipated news conference: “I did it for convenience.”
“I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by,” Clinton said.
Speaking to reporters after a speech at the United Nations — which the networks broke from scheduled programming to cover live — Clinton staked her defense on four points.
“When I got to work as secretary of state, 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,” Clinton said. “Looking back, it would have been better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone. But at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.”
Clinton also argued that “the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the state department.”
The former secretary of state also said that after she left office and the State Department asked former secretaries to provide copies of work-related emails on personal accounts, “I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them.”
Clinton also said she “took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work related emails public for everyone to see.”
Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, made these comments about her emails more than a week after The New York Times published its story, “Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules.”
The Federal Records Act requires emails from government officials to be preserved, and critics are accusing Clinton of using personal email accounts, instead of an official account, to avoid having to be transparent.
Prior to Tuesday’s press conference, Clinton’s only response to the revelation was a post of Twitter last week: “I want the public to see my email,” she tweeted last Wednesday. “I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”
The news conference on Tuesday lasted roughly 20 minutes. Clinton explained that she withheld what she considered non work-related emails when she turned over documents to the State Department.
“We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work related emails and deliver them to the state department,” she said. “At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails. Emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding, or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes. No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.”
Clinton acknowledged that the emails were hosted on a personal server at her home, but said she will not turn the actual server over to the department.
“The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, and I believe I have met all my responsibilities and the server will remain private,” she said.
Asked about the security implications of the country’s top diplomat communicating with a personal email account, Clinton responded: “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”
Clinton’s defenses, however, immediately raised new questions, including why couldn’t she have used one device for both a government and personal account. And her statement that the server contains emails from her husband doesn’t square with Bill Clinton’s spokesman recently telling the media that the former president doesn’t use email at all.