Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged before a horde of press at the United Nations today to defend herself over using a personal email address while in the office — and defended her role as arbiter of what emails were official, thus required to be turned over, and which were personal and could be trashed.
Clinton has been under fire for revelations that she only used personal email and a home-based server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat. A late-night tweet nearly a week ago — “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.” — didn’t calm the controversy.
She began the press conference pitching for women’s rights initiatives and slamming Senate Republicans for interfering in President Obama’s nuclear negotiations with the Iranians.
The first question, in UN custom that favors the international press corps, went to Turkish television — but the question was about her emails.
“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,” Clinton said, noting that she didn’t want to juggle multiple email devices.
Looking back, she said, a second phone and email would have been wise “but at the time this didn’t seem like an issue.”
“I saw it as a matter of convenience.”
She contended that the “vast majority” of her emails “went to government employees at their government addresses,” so she assumed that the email would be stored in government records on the receiving end.
When asked for her emails by the State Department, Clinton said she “responded right away” and “provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related,” even though “I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them.”
Clinton said her team sorted through more than 60,000 emails and determined about half of them to be work-related. She said those work emails turned over to the State Department came out to 55,000 printed pages.
“At the end I chose not to keep my private personal emails,” she said, which included topics such as her daughter Chelsea’s wedding and “yoga routines.”
“No one wants their personal emails made public,” Clinton stressed, adding that she thinks “most people understand that and respect that privacy.”
As far as official State Department correspondence, Clinton said she’s “very proud” of her work as secretary of State that they reflect. “And I look forward to people being able to see that for themselves,” she said.
“I want it all out there,” Clinton stressed, adding that she followed rules on using personal discretion to determine what was a personal email and “did not” delete any government correspondence. “In fact, my direction to conduct the thorough investigation was to err on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work-related.”
“…That doesn’t mean they will be by the State Department once the State Department goes through them, but out of an abundance of caution and care, you know, we wanted to send that message unequivocally.”
She said she’s “very confident of the process that we conducted” and looks forward to people getting “unprecedented insight into a high government official’s” daily duties after the work emails are released — “which I think will be quite interesting.”
“Looking back it would have been probably smarter to have used two devices,” she said, but “I have no doubt that we’ve done absolutely what we should have done.”
“We have more than met the requests from the State Department.”
And the personal server in her home? Clinton was unyielding when asked if she would allow an independent third-party investigator probe the server.
She said it was set up for President Clinton’s home office and includes “personal communications between my husband and me.”
“The server will remain private,” she declared.
Clinton said “there were no security breaches” of the server, with the premises guarded by the Secret Service.
“I did not email any classified information to anyone on my personal email,” she said.
Separately, Clinton was asked about donations to the Clinton foundation from countries that abuse women, as she was at the UN lobbying for women’s rights. “I’m very proud of work that foundation does; we are very clear about where we stand on all of these issues,” Clinton responded, adding “there can’t be any mistake” regarding her passion for women’s rights and people who support foundation “know well” what they stand for.
Turkish television asked Clinton if she felt her email scandal would receive different attention if she was a man.
Clinton smiled. “I will leave that to others to answer,” she replied.