In its most comprehensive response yet to the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, her presidential campaign Tuesday posted to its website a 3,600 word fact sheet her advisers hope will become the campaign’s definitive take on the issue as the candidate heads to Capitol Hill for several meetings with members of Congress.
While the document covers little new ground and follows previous statements previously released by the campaign, it provides the most detailed and extensive answers to lingering questions about the issue in one place. It also serves as an acknowledgement that the issue remains a distraction for Clinton’s second bid for the White House.
Questions about Clinton’s email account have trailed the candidate since early March, and dominated a pre-campaign news conference and the first national TV interview she gave of her presidential campaign. Republicans have exploited the issue in light of polls showing many Americans find Clinton untrustworthy.
Formatted as a Q&A, the fact sheet on her website’s “Briefing” blog tackles more than two dozen questions about her emails and seeks to reassure that Clinton did nothing wrong. It will also likely serve as blueprint for Clinton allies to use when asked about her email account.
“[T]he only reason she used her own account” was “as a matter of convenience,” the document begins, since it made it easier for her to keep in touch with people as she traveled.
Her email account was known to more than 100 State Department and U.S. government colleagues with whom she emailed, and followed all regulations and the precedent of previous secretaries of state, the document continues. Even so, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, the department expressed a clear preference for using government email accounts.
The campaign says that 90% of her Clinton’s went to state.gov accounts and thus would have been archived and were available for Freedom of Information Act and Congressional inquiries before she turned over the emails herself.
Clinton has said the account allowed her use only one device while traveling, but has also discussed publicly using two devices, raising some questions.
The campaign explains that Clinton relied primarily on her BlackBerry for email, but adds: “When the iPad came out in 2010, she was as curious as others” and “had access to her email account on her iPad and sometimes used it for that too.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, essentially accused Clinton of lying last week after she said in a CNN interview that she never faced a subpoenaed while deleting emails. But the campaign notes the subpoena came months after she reviewed and deleted her emails, and that the subpoena pertained exclusively to work-related emails, not the personal ones Clinton deleted. The campaign also states definitely that “no” work-related emails were deleted.
The work-related emails Clinton turned over to State were printed hard copies, which the campaign notes is required by the department, since electronic archiving technology is not available.
Of the total 62,320 emails sent and received on her system while she served as secretary of state, 30,490 were provided to State as potential federal records and the remaining 31,830 were private and thus deleted, the campaign says.
The campaign also details how Clinton’s lawyers reviewed her email. First they searched for any emails to or from .gov accounts, which flagged the vast majority – 27,500 – of the emails sent to state. Next, they searched for the names of more than 100 U.S. government officials, then sorted emails by sender and recipient and reviewed, and finally searched for specific terms like “Benghazi” and “Libya.” Those final three steps yielded another 2,900 emails.
And to cyber security questions, Clinton’s camp says there is “no evidence there was ever a breach,” and states definitively that there was never an unauthorized intrusion into the system.
The campaign does not have a clear explanation, however, for why former Clinton aide Sid Blumenthal has some emails to Clinton that she did not have and vice versa, but stresses that “none of those emails provide any new insights on the attack on our facilities in Benghazi.”