Hillary Clinton admits mistake over email
Hillary Rodham Clinton has broken her silence on a controversy that has cast a cloud on her likely US presidential candidacy, defiantly saying she did nothing improper in exclusively using a private account for official emails while secretary of state.
But she acknowledged destroying tens of thousands of emails she described as personal and conceded that she should have used a government account.
"I fully complied with every rule I was governed by," Mrs Clinton said in a 20-minute news conference that marked her first comments on the controversy.
Mrs Clinton's email practices have been closely scrutinised following revelations last week that she used a private email address and server for official government business.
That raised questions about whether she was complying with regulations requiring government officials to preserve written communications involving official business.
While the controversy has not affected her status as the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, it has upended her careful blueprint for the roll-out of her 2016 presidential campaign.
Mrs Clinton had planned to spend March touting her work on women's issues and giving a handful of paid speeches before announcing her candidacy in early April.
Instead, she found herself standing before dozens of reporters at the United Nations addressing a matter that has revived questions of ethics and secrecy that have long trailed Mrs Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Her appearance came after her previously scheduled speech on women's rights at the UN.
Before yesterday's news conference, Mrs Clinton's only comment on the email disclosures had been a late-night tweet last week saying she wanted the State Department to make her emails public. Her decision to weigh in further came as Democratic allies began publicly pushing her to do so.
The Republican Party's leading presidential prospects had no immediate response to Mrs Clinton's explanations.
But in a signal that the issue was unlikely to fade soon, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus blasted Mrs Clinton's comments as "completely disingenuous".
"No-one but Hillary Clinton knows if she handed over every relevant email," Mr Priebus said.
Mrs Clinton's comments also appeared unlikely to quell efforts by Republican lawmakers to use the matter to bolster their investigation into the deaths of four Americans at a US facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
Following the news conference, Representative Trey Gowdy, the Republican leading the committee, said he planned to call her to give evidence at least twice.
A central question for Mrs Clinton over the past week has been why she chose not to use government email if she was not trying to skirt federal rules that require officials' communications to be archived.
She described her use of personal email as a matter of "convenience" and a way to avoid carrying two devices. She said that did not appear to be an issue at the time, but that in hindsight, it would have been "smarter" to use a government account as well as her personal one.
She said repeatedly that she had taken "unprecedented steps" to provide the State Department her work-related communications. She described the missing personal emails as ones she wrote about her daughter's wedding, her mother's funeral, her yoga routine and other similar matters.
"No-one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect privacy," she said.
Mrs Clinton left the Obama administration in early 2013, but did not turn over her written communications for nearly two years and only in response to a State Department request.
While Mrs Clinton insisted that she was not violating any rules, she does appear to have gone against what the White House has called "very specific guidance" that officials should use government email to conduct business.
She said she emailed her State Department colleagues on their government accounts and therefore expected her communications would be archived. She provided no evidence to support her assertions that her email system experienced no security breaches.
The department says it will take several months to review the material Mrs Clinton turned over last year. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that once the review is complete, the emails will be posted online for the public to see. Passages revealing anything from trade secrets to sensitive national security information could be redacted, in keeping with Freedom of Information Act guidelines.