NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton broke her silence Tuesday, saying she used a personal email account to conduct business as secretary of state merely out of convenience.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Clinton said there were absolutely no security breaches, and she sent no classified information. She also said she wants Americans to be able to review all of her work-related emails.
At a news conference at the United Nations, Clinton said when she began her tenure as secretary of state in 2009, she opted to use one device and one email account for both work and personal use because she thought it would be more convenient. She said doing so was allowed by the State Department.
“Looking back, it would have been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts,” the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said. “I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously it hasn’t worked out that way.”
“I fully complied by every rule I was governed by,” she added.
Clinton discussed the brewing controversy after days of silence and intensifying calls from Democrats as well as Republicans to address the matter. There were concerns that the private server located at her Chappaqua home maybe could have been hacked.
“The system we used was set up for President (Bill) Clinton’s office, and it had numerous safeguards,” Clinton said. “It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches.”
She said that after leaving her post, the State Department asked her and other former secretaries of state to provide work-related emails sent through personal accounts, and she turned over 55,000 printed pages even though she believed the federal government already had access to the “vast majority” of the emails because they were sent to people who used official government email accounts.
WEB EXTRA: See Clinton’s Complete Q&A
During her speech, Clinton frequently consulted notes as she took reporters’ questions – trying to answer all the issues that have been raised in her weeks of silence. She emphasized that she did not violate the law, and that all the communications were automatically saved.
“It was my practice to email government officials on the state or other dot-gov accounts, so that the emails were immediately captured,” Clinton said.
She added that she asked the State Department to make all her work-related emails available to the public.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, Clinton said she did not disclose emails that were personal in nature — but she said they were just the stuff of day-to-day life. She said they concerned topics such as the planning of daughter Chelsea’s wedding, her mother’s funeral arrangements or yoga routines. She said she and her aides deemed about half of the 60,000 emails to be personal, adding they followed government guidelines.
“I am confident of the process that we conducted and the emails that were produced,” the former first lady and New York senator said. “And I feel like once the American public begins to see the emails, they will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official’s daily communications, which I think will be quite interesting.”
The State Department said Tuesday that all of Clinton’s emails will be published on a website after they are reviewed and redacted to eliminate sensitive national security information.
The review of the 55,000 pages Clinton turned over is expected to take several months.
In her news conference, Clinton also took the opportunity to blast Senate Republicans for sending a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration might not last after Obama’s term ends.
“One has to ask: What was the purpose of this letter?” Clinton said. “There appears to be two logical answers: Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the commander-in-chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”
The news conference followed a U.N. forum on women in society, in which Clinton said equality for women “is not just morally right, but is the smart thing to do” and leaders “have to keep making the same case over and over again. What we are doing here today is smart for companies and smart for countries.”
She was introduced at the forum as “a future president,” prompting applause and cheers through the room. But her speech steered clear of presidential politics.
Nearby, journalists jostled for position, after waiting two hours or more at an overwhelmed credentials office, to hear Clinton speak for the first time about her use of private email.
Clinton also took to the stage in New York City on Monday to discuss gender equality and stuck to her prepared script like glue, CBS2’s Kramer reported. She made no mention of the email controversy swirling around her, as others, including the White House, weighed in.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois — the No. 2 Senate Democrat — became the first member of his party’s leadership to call on Clinton to address the issue. “I think it’s only fair to say to Hillary Clinton: ‘Tell us your side of the story. What did you put on this personal email?'” Durbin said Tuesday on MSNBC.
Also on Tuesday, the five Democrats on the House panel investigating the fatal 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, asked the State Department to make public some of Clinton’s emails that recently were provided to the committee. They wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry and urged him to make a priority of the 850 pages of documents that the department gave to the panel.
The White House has said that Obama learned only recently that Clinton was using a privately run server for emailing during her tenure and that she was using private email for all official business. He was aware of the account’s existence before because the two had exchanged emails using it.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Clinton should turn the server itself over to an “independent arbiter.”
The news conference was her first since she left the State Department in early 2013. She gave several TV interviews during her book tour last year, frequently conducts question-and-answer sessions with moderators during speaking engagements and briefly answered questions from reporters at an Iowa event in September.
Clinton is under scrutiny over whether she fully complied with federal laws requiring government officials to preserve written communications involving official business. By using her own email server, traced to an Internet connection registered to her hometown in Chappaqua, New York, she gained more control over her email than she would have had using a government server.
During the past week, the State Department has faced a torrent of questions about Clinton’s email practices and has increasingly referred them to Clinton and her team.
Last week, Clinton said in a Twitter message that she wanted her emails released by the State Department as soon as possible. Clinton’s spokesmen and the State Department have said she never received or transmitted classified information on her private account, in which case there would be no concerns that disclosure of her messages could compromise national security.
Clinton is approaching a public decision on a 2016 presidential campaign and remains the leading prospect for the Democratic nomination if she seeks the White House again.
“Part of what this does — because there’s still questions remaining — is to re-enforce the sense that with the Clintons, there’s always something to talk about,” Political strategist Hank Sheinkopf told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
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