Hillary Clinton spoke on women's rights at the United Nations on Tuesday afternoon, and then moved on to something the media actually cares about: a press conference addressing her use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state. Though some reporters whined extensively about a difficult U.N. press credentialing process, plenty of media
made it in.
Clinton opened by discussing her speech's topic of gender equality, making the disappointment of reporters in attendance palpable. "This remains the great unfinished business of the 21st century," she said, before moving to brief comments on open letter from Senate Republicans to Iran, calling the letter "out of step with the best traditions of American leadership."
Only then did she move on to the topic of her emails. First, she said, "When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal account, which was allowed ... looking back, it would have been better had I used a second email account and carried a second phone."
"The vast majority of my emails went to government employees" at government email addresses, so they were immediately logged in the system and stored. Third, she said, after she left office, the State Department asked former secretaries for their emails. She did so, providing the 55,000 pages of emails that have been so widely cited. "At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails," such as emails about yoga, vacations, and her daughter's wedding. "No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy."
Fourth, she "took the unprecedented step" of asking that all her work-related emails be made public.
12:08 PM PT: How did Clinton decide which personal emails to keep private? "There were over 60,000 in total, sent and received" of which about half were work-related and half were personal. "I am very confident of the process that we conducted."
12:10 PM PT: Did she make a mistake either in exclusively using private email or in response to controversy?
Clinton responds that "looking back, it probably would have been smarter" to have used two devices for two email accounts, but feels good about the process by which emails have been turned over to the State Department.
12:12 PM PT: What lengths are she willing to go to to prove that she didn't delete work-related emails?
Clinton says she erred on the side of caution. "I have fulfilled that responsibility and I have no doubt that we've done exactly what we should have done [...] The server contains personal communications from my husband and me and I believe that I have met all my responsibilities and the server will remain private."
12:13 PM PT: Clinton explains that the server used was set up for former President Clinton's use and had numerous security safeguards. It was, she says, "effective and secure." As for whether this will affect her presidential plans, "I trust the American people" to assess the situation and to assess the emails that are being made public.
12:15 PM PT: Clinton points out that no matter how many email accounts she'd had, she—like any other federal employee—could have sent and deleted work-related emails from a personal account, but that the federal government counts on every employee to behave appropriately. She has done so, she says.
12:18 PM PT: Clinton responds to a multipronged question by basically repeating everything she's already said: she complied with regulations, most of her work-related emails were sent to people on their government accounts and so were stored on federal servers in that way, etc.
We are well into the repetitive part of the press conference.
12:18 PM PT: "I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email ... I did not send classified material."
12:25 PM PT: Clinton's message seemed as much geared to voters as to the media—beginning with her desire to avoid carrying two different phones for two different email accounts, but acknowledging that in retrospect, she should have just sucked it up (to paraphrase pretty broadly); repeatedly pointing out that none of us want our personal emails public; and highlighting the routine nature of so many of those personal emails. It won't end the stream of detailed inside-baseball questions from the media, but public interest in the story is already low, and now the "when will she speak" stories will be quashed. It feels like an effective performance.