UNITED NATIONS — Hillary Clinton faced reporters Tuesday to answer questions about her exclusive use of a private email account while she served as secretary of state. But she didn't answer all the questions out there about her electronic correspondence -- and she may have even created a few new ones.
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Clinton carefully explained that she used only a personal email address out of convenience, though she now acknowledges that it probably would have been "smarter" to do things differently. Clinton she did not preserve half of the 60,000 emails she sent during her tenure because they were personal and dealt with things like planning her daughter’s wedding and her mother's funeral, and contain personal correspondence with her husband and friends. And, she said, she won't turn over her private email server.
Her message – including the talk of her personal correspondence on things like “yoga routines, family vacations [and] the other things you typically find in in-boxes” – seemed intended for an audience beyond the reporters in the room, and perhaps especially for women, who make up her core support base and might empathize with Clinton’s desire for privacy.
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“No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” she said Tuesday following a speech here at a U.N women’s event.
Clinton’s staff also sent a nine-page fact sheet to reporters with potential questions and answers about her email.
Nonetheless, Republicans are clearly not satisfied, and the press may not be either not either. Here as some lingering questions that Clinton and her allies are likely to field in coming days, even after clearing up many others.
Clinton noted she was going “above and beyond” what is required of federal officials by releasing her emails to the public -- an "unprecedented" step towards transparency.
1. Why delete the personal emails? Clinton said that she went through her entire email archive after the State Department requested that she turn over any documents that could be considered federal records. “At the end [of that process], I chose not to keep my private, personal emails,” Clinton said.
But why delete private emails, even if they had no work value? In Silicon Valley two weeks ago, she said, “I don't throw anything away, I'm like two steps short of a hoarder."
2. How long can she keep her email server private? Clinton was adamant that she will not turn over her family's private email server set up first for her husband, former President Bill Clinton. “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,” she said.
But Republicans have made it clear they will not relent without it. “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,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House investigative panel that discovered Clinton’s private account.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed: “Anything short of Hillary Clinton releasing her secret server to an independent arbiter would demonstrate that she’s not interested in being transparent with the American people,” he said.
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3. Was Clinton’s email as secure as if she used a State Department account? Clinton said she did not use her personal email account to send any classified information, but her correspondence could be confidential nonetheless -- was it safe?
In the fact sheet, Clinton’s office said, “the security and integrity of her family’s electronic communications was taken seriously from the onset,” but declined to go into details, citing security concerns. “[S]uffice it to say, robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts,” the fact sheet said. Clinton added that her system was never compromised.
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And at the same Silicon Valley appearance last month, Clinton said she used both a BlackBerry and iPhone, along with an iPad.
5. Who in the administration signed off on her account? “The [State] Department has and did provide guidance regarding the need to preserve federal records, which included her work emails,” according to the Clinton fact sheet. “To address requirements to keep records of her work emails, it was her practice to email government employees on their ‘.gov’ email address,” which would be automatically preserved.
But some may want to know which lawyers or IT administrators at State or the White House OK’d the use of the private account. Did anyone at the White House or the National Security Council raise concerns? Did President Obama – who the White House said emailed with Clinton -- know or raise concerns, considering he used an official account himself?
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6. Did she violate administration policies or guidance? While it now seems clear that Clinton's email account did not violate the law, the administration nonetheless advised federal employees to use an official email account for official business. This may be answered during the State Department's review of her emails.
7. How will this affect Clinton’s expected presidential plans? The former secretary of state was asked twice Tuesday if the controversy would affect her all-but-declared 2016 White House bid. “I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters,” she said, adding that many may be interested to read about the inner-workings of her department.
MoveOn.org and Ready for Warren, two groups working to push Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race, said Tuesday that the email flap shows the need for a competitive primary, though they were careful not criticize Clinton. "A contested nomination will strengthen the Democratic Party by holding candidates accountable,” said Ready for Warren campaign manager Erica Sagrans.
Clinton's timing is unlikely to be affected, since it is determined in part by federal election laws.
8. Will Democrats be satisfied? While Republicans may never be satisfied, Democrats who have been concerned that Clinton waited too long to clear the air might breath a sigh of relief. Clinton’s press conference was driven in part by pressure from Sen. Diane Feinstein and other senior members of Clinton’s party for the potential candidate to explain her email habits.
Two Democrats considering challenging Clinton for the nomination, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, dodged the issue Tuesday at an appearance in Washington, choosing not to pile on to Clinton.
9. Why did she call on a Turkish reporter first? This one can actually be answered pretty simply. It’s United Nations tradition for the first question at press conferences to go to the president of the UN Correspondents’ Association. The president was out of town, so the honor fell to Kahraman Haliscelik of Turkey's national public TV & Radio broadcaster, who is the first vice president of the association.