Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she’s already sent all the work-related emails that she wrote and received through her private server to the State Department, and that she destroyed all remaining private emails.
Clinton spoke at a hastily arranged press briefing at the United Nations in New York, after several days of scrutiny about possible emails related to the 2012 Benghazi attack or other issues that she may not have sent to the State Department. But she said she has not broken any State Department rule, and that the government now has every work email she ever wrote.
“I fully complied by every rule that I was governed by,” she said.
She indicated that she deleted or otherwise didn’t save the many personal emails that ended up on that server. “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,” she told reporters.
Her comments are likely to lead to more complaints from Republicans that it can’t be left to Clinton herself which emails are made public and which can be kept. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has said for the last several days that the State Department itself isn’t sure what emails might be outstanding, and that he has seen gaps in the Benghazi-related emails that he’s received so far.
Still, Clinton defended her decision by saying it’s all in line with State Department guidance, which allows officials to decide themselves what emails must be turned into the government, and which can be kept private.
“I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear, and the State Department request was clear for any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related,” she said.
Clinton also said the “vast majority” of her work emails were sent to others in the State Department, and thus would be automatically kept in the government.
Her comments would seem to raise immediate questions about whether Gowdy’s subpoena of Clinton’s emails will get anywhere. If the emails are gone, they may be impossible to retrieve.
And that’s if Clinton allows the process to get that far. She indicated she would fight an attempt to get into those files.
“The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities, and the server will remain private,” she said.
Much of the scandal stems from her decision not to use a State Department email, which has raised questions about whether all of her emails have been properly archived. Clinton did acknowledge that with hindsight, it might have made more sense to use a government email, but said she wanted to use one mobile device, not too.
“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 did’t seem like an issue,” she said.
But some pundits were already pointing out that people can access more than one email account on a single device, and that her explanation makes no sense for that reason.