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Hillary Clinton defends email use, admits deleting 'personal' messages

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday defended her use of a private email account as secretary of state, saying she had done so as a matter of convenience.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday defended her use of a private email account as secretary of state, saying she had done so as a matter of convenience and has since turned over all work-related correspondence to the State Department. But she acknowledged removing personal emails like "yoga routines" and planning her daughter Chelsea's wedding and her mother's funeral. She insisted her email server would remain private.

"The server contains personal communications from my husband and me and I believe I have met all my responsibilities. The server will remain private. I think the State Department will be able over time to release all the records that was provided," Clinton said.

She added it would probably have been "smarter" to keep a separate work-related account. 

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The former first lady and New York senator addressed dozens of reporters and cameras after speaking at an event at the United Nations, more than a week after The New York Times reported that Clinton had used a private email account, rather than an official government account, to conduct State Department business. The Associated Press followed up with a story tracing the private email server to Clinton's home in Chappaqua, New York. The revelations drew immediate criticism from Republicans who openly questioned what Clinton was trying to hide. Other critics, including some Democrats, questioned whether the practice had posed a security risk.

Clinton, an all but certain candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, refused to say how the controversy around her emails would affect her decision to run. She said she had followed all the rules required of her at the State Department; that most of her emails had gone to government account, thus preserving them automatically; and that she had handed over all her work-related email to the department upon request. 

Clinton was adamant she had acted within the scope of government rules when asked why the public should believe that she hadn't deleted work-related correspondence from her email. She cast herself as no different from any other government employee. 

"The federal employee, the individual, whether they have one device, two devices, three devices, how many addresses, they make the decision," she said. "Even if you have a work-related device with a work-related account, you choose what goes on that. You trust and count on the judgment of thousands, millions of people to make that decision. I went above and beyond what I was requested to do."

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Her comments Tuesday were the first to address the matter. Clinton issued a tweet two days after The New York Times report, saying "I want the public to see my email" and asked the State Department to make the correspondence public. She had not addressed the matter again until Tuesday, leaving it to surrogates to defend her on television and in news stories. 

Asked about the security concern, Clinton said she had never emailed classified material. "I'm fully aware of requirements and did not send classified information."

Earlier Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department would release Clinton's email online after 55,000 pages already turned over to the department had been reviewed. "The release will be posted on a publicly available website, I will have more information about that hopefully soon," Psaki told reporters, adding that documents specifically requested by the House Select Committee on Benghazi would be turned over to the committee before the rest are released.

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the Benghazi committee, released a statement saying Clinton's comments had raised more questions than answers and said she would be called to appear before the committee at least twice.

"I see no choice but for Secretary Clinton to turn her server over to a neutral, detached third-party arbiter who can determine which documents should be public and which should remain private. Secretary Clinton alone created this predicament, but she alone does not get to determine its outcome," Gowdy said in the statement.