CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Speaking to reporters for the first time in nearly a month, Hillary Clinton said she wants the State Department to release her emails as soon as possible.
Clinton has taken heat for keeping her distance from the press for the past 28 days, but she took questions for about five minutes following a small business roundtable at a bike shop here Tuesday.
“I have said repeatedly I want these emails out,” Clinton said in response to question from NBC News’ Kristen Welker. “Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do."
The State Department, which Clinton headed for four years, said Monday that it would take until January 2016 to process the 55,000 pages of emails from Clinton's private email server she turned over last year -- much later than expected previously. In response, a federal judge said Tuesday that he wants the State Department to produce the emails as they are processed on a “rolling” basis.
Clinton urged the State Department to expedite the process, but she essentially said her hands are tied, because the agency must follow its standard process of vetting emails for release.
The Democratic presidential candidate would like to get the email issue behind her as the 2016 campaign ramps up. And she found some unlikely allies Tuesday, like Texas Sen. Jon Cornyn, who want the emails made public sooner than later.
On her second trip to Iowa since declaring her candidacy, Clinton also answered questions on Iraq, her family’s charitable foundation, her wealth and her friend Sydney Blumenthal, the subject of a recent New York Times investigation.
Recent campaign disclosures revealed that Clinton and her husband made $30 million since January of last year, mostly from speaking fees, but Clinton said that wealth did not make her out of touch.
“Bill and I have been blessed and we’re very grateful for the opportunities that we’ve had, but we’ve never forgotten where we came from,” she said. “That means that we’re going to fight to make sure that everybody has the same chances.” She added that “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the very top,” and that she would work to level the playing field.
Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq war arguably cost her the Democratic nomination in 2008. The issue has also tripped up Republican 2016 hopefuls in recent days, who have had difficultly explaining whether they would have invaded the country, knowing what we know now.
“I know there have been a lot of question about Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks,” Clinton said in response to another question.
Clinton repeated that her vote was a "mistake." And she said the U.S. should mostly say out of the country today as ISIS militants take over large swaths of the country, while providing support and aide to the Iraqi government.
And the former secretary of state also responded to allegations, brought to light by a recent New York Times report, that she took advice on Libya from Sydney Blumenthal, an old friend and Bill Clinton aide who was barred from working at the State Department.
“I have many many old friends. And I always think that it's important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you get into politics and understand what’s on their mind,” Clinton said.
She said Blumenthal sent her “unsolicited emails, which I passed on in some instances,” a practice she defended since she said public officials have to guard against getting “caught in a bubble” of the national security bureaucracy.
Clinton also stood by her family's charitable foundation, which has become the center of controversy over pay-for-play allegations, saying she is very proud of its work.
There were plenty of other questions Clinton did not answer. For instance, while she addressed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty during her roundtable event, she has not taken a position on a controversial bill that would give President Obama “fast track” authority to approve such trade deals.