Hillary Clinton and her team apparently felt that it was finally time to have the Candidate* address the whole email thing, which she did with a press conference, in which she tried to brush the whole thing off as nothing. Here’s the key bit from her prepared remarks:
Now, I would be pleased to talk more about this important matter, but I know there have been questions about my email, so I want to address that directly, and then I will take a few questions from you.
There are four things I want the public to know.
First, 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 just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.
Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.
Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.
Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totalled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work- related emails and deliver them to the State Department. 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.
No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.
Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see.
I am very proud of the work that I and my colleagues and our public servants at the department did during my four years as secretary of state, and I look forward to people being able to see that for themselves.
Again, looking back, it would’ve been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts. I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way.
Later, in the Q&A session she added a few “details.” On the question of which emails she kept private (which she says she deleted), she claimed it was just stuff that don’t need to be shared, such as emails between herself and Bill Clinton:
And the process produced over 30,000 you know, work emails, and I think that we have more than met the requests from the State Department. 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 and I think that the State Department will be able, over time, to release all of the records that were provided.
As for the security of the emails, she insists they were fine because they were guarded by the Secret Service:
Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.
So, I think that the — the use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.
Now the proper follow up to that is how the hell do you know there were no security breaches. Having Secret Service agents guard the physical machine is one thing. Making sure there were no online breaches is another thing entirely. Trevor Timm, over at the Guardian, notes that Clintons statements only raise a lot more questions.
For example, she claims that the private emails were things like emails with Bill. But, as Timm points out, just hours earlier, Bill Clinton’s spokesperson said that the President still doesn’t use email.
The former president, who does regularly use Twitter , has sent a grand total of two emails during his entire life, both as president, says Matt McKenna, his spokesman. After leaving office, Mr. Clinton established his own domain that staff use–@presidentclinton.com. But Mr. Clinton still doesn’t use email himself, Mr. McKenna said.
So, was Hillary lying when she said other emails were just her and Bill chatting — or was Bill’s own spokesperson wrong?
Timm also digs in on that “no security breaches” claim, and finds that Clinton’s people did a followup with a caveat: “there is no evidence there was ever a breach.” Which could mean there was one, and they just never knew about it. Furthermore, the better question (and one a reporter in the press corp. should have asked) is not about the Secret Service guys guarding the box, but who set up the computer security for the email server. But no one did. Here’s Timm:
Also: what type of security professionals were looking after the server? Clinton said the secret service guarded it, but we have no idea the expertise of the person actually running it. Experts have already pointed to basic holes in the email server’s security based on public data, and as any systems administrator will tell you, running your own email server is never simple.
Another point raised by Timm: Clinton seems to be willfully misstating the rules when she claims she didn’t violate them:
Clinton also said at the press conference she “fully complied with every rule I was governed by”. Well, actually: a 2005 State Department directive said “It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [Automated Information System], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.”
Sources told Politico the rules were “clear-cut”. An ambassador was harshly criticized in 2012 for breaking this rule in the same manner Clinton did and subsequently fired in part for using a private email account at work. And Clinton herself signed a State Department cable in 2011 saying that all ambassadors should avoid personal email for professional business.
In the end, this response tried to answer questions, but only served to raise a bunch of new ones.
* Still not officially running