USA

Clinton says ‘could have been smarter’ about emails

Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters at the UN on March 10, 2015
Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters at the UN on March 10, 2015 Don Emmert, AFP

UN correspondent in New York – Hillary Clinton spoke for the first time on Tuesday about an email scandal that has brought the former secretary of state under harsh scrutiny as the US awaits confirmation that she will be a candidate in the 2016 presidential race.

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The briefing was intended to defuse the week-long controversy over her use of a personal email account during her tenure as as the top diplomat of the United States, but the choice of venue riled many New York reporters who struggled to gain accreditation for the United Nations with less than 24 hours notice.

Speaking to reporters after a keynote speech on gender equality as part of an ongoing event on women’s rights at the UN, Clinton stressed that she had been allowed to use a personal email but admitted that it “probably would have been smarter” to use an official state.gov email account for correspondence related to her work.

She said when she took on the role of secretary of state she preferred to use one email account and one device for both personal and work correspondence – a choice that might be viewed favourably aside from the controversy that has arisen from it.

She said the majority of emails she sent during her time as secretary of state went to government staff and therefore were already in the system, but in response to the controversy she had handed over some 55,000 pages of emails “even though the State Department already had most of them”.

Around half of her emails were personal, concerning subjects such as her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s funeral and other matters such as yoga routines, she said. Those emails had been discarded.

“I have absolute confidence that everything that could, in any way, be connected to work is now in the hands of the State Department,” she said.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that it would publish some of the emails online in “several months”.

“We will review the entire 55,000-page set and release in one batch at the end of that review to ensure that standards are consistently applied throughout the entire 55,000 pages,” Psaki said. “We expect the review to take several months; obviously that hasn’t changed.”

Clinton said she was “very proud” of the work that she and her colleagues had done during her four years at the State Department and would look forward to people being able to see that in those records.

Hundreds of reporters turned out to see the clear Democratic frontrunner speak on the scandal, which Republican critics have said shows a lack of transparency. Clinton had remained silent on the issue, infuriating critics and reporters alike. Some American journalists voiced grievances when she took her first question from a Turkish reporter.

The email crisis has upended what could have otherwise been a month focusing on Clinton’s activism as a women’s rights leader, which is considered a bedrock of her anticipated campaign as a presidential hopeful.

If elected, Clinton would be the country’s first female president.

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