In a press conference, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has explained her decision to route all emails through a personal account housed on a private server, and reiterated a promise to publicly release any work-related messages. "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 one device for my work and personal email instead of two," she said after a speech at the United Nations. "At the time, this didn't seem like an issue."
This, Clinton maintains, was explicitly allowed at the time she took office in 2009, and she says that most messages were still archived on government servers one way or another. "It was my practice to email government officials on their State [Department] and other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved," even if they weren't available directly through her account. While some officials have used commercial mail services, Clinton's mail was held on a system that she says was initially set up for her husband's office. "It had numerous safeguards, it was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches," she says.
"At the time, this didn't seem like an issue."
Clinton says that she turned over roughly half the 60,000 emails on her server to the State Department as part of a record-keeping effort two months ago. The other half, she says, were private messages, including wedding and funeral arrangements, "yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes." After The New York Times reported the existence of Clinton's private email account earlier this month, Clinton said she would push to make the work-related messages, totaling 55,000 pages, public. But she hasn't elaborated on her choice until now. "I saw it as a matter of convenience, and it was allowed," she says now.
Congressional Republicans have called for a third party to look through Clinton's email to ensure that she doesn't withhold work-related but embarrassing messages. Clinton, however, says she has the authority to make the call herself. "I think I have met all of my responsibilities, and the server will remain private, and I think the State Department will be able over time to release all of the records that have been provided," she says.
The private server will remain private
While Clinton says she complied with federal transparency rules, these reports have raised questions about whether she obeyed the letter or the spirit of the law as Secretary of State. Per Clinton's request, the State Department has said it will review the emails for public release "as soon as possible," but the process could potentially take several months. Clinton, meanwhile, spins her decision as a positive one. The public "will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official's everyday communication, which I think will be very interesting," she says.
"I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn't worked out that way," says Clinton. Would she do it again? "I did it for convenience, and I now, looking back, think it might have been smarter to have two devices from the very beginning."