Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday maintained her private email system and server she used as the nation’s top diplomat was “legally permitted” while pleading ignorance about some of the machinations behind the set-up.
She was asked repeatedly after an appearance in Nevada if she tried to wipe the server.
“I don’t — I have no idea, that’s why we turned it over,” Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner, told reporters. “What, like with a cloth or something? … I don’t know how it works digitally at all.”
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is continuing to deal with the fallout over the set-up, with the State Department reporting this week that more than 300 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails have been flagged for potentially secret information.
“In retrospect, this didn’t turn out to be convenient at all, and I regret that this has become such a cause célèbre — but that does not change the facts,” she said. “And no matter what anybody tries to say, the facts are stubborn. What I did was legally permitted, number one, first and foremost, OK?”
She also said she turned over anything she thought was even vaguely work-related in an attempt to be helpful.
“But whether it was a personal account or a government account, I did not send classified material and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified, which is the way you know whether something is,” she said.
Dozens of messages released publicly have had information redacted as classified, however.
She said new classifications after-the-fact constituted a “disagreement between agencies saying, you know what, they should have, and the other’s saying, no they shouldn’t.”
“That has nothing to do with me,” she said. “If it had been a government account and I said ‘release it,’ we’d be having the same arguments.”
Asked whether she tried to wipe the entire server, Mrs. Clinton shrugged at one point.
“My personal emails are my personal business, right?” she said. “So I — so we went through a painstaking process and turned over 55,000 pages of anything we thought could be work-related. Under the law, that decision is made by the official. I was the official.”
Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David E. Kendall, wrote in March to Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, that he had confirmed with Mrs. Clinton’s IT support that no emails from her address from between Jan. 21, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2013, were on the server anymore, or on any back-up systems associated with the server.
“I made those decisions, and as I just said, over 1,200 of the emails have already been deemed not work-related,” she said. “Now, all I can tell you is in retrospect, if I had used a government account and I had said, you know, let’s release everything, let’s let everybody in America see what I did for four years, we would have the same arguments.”
As Mrs. Clinton walked away, a reporter asked if this is an indication the issue isn’t going to go away for the remainder of her campaign.
“Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys,” Mrs. Clinton said.