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Questions About Her Private Email Server Follow Hillary Clinton


Let's take a closer look at just how Hillary Clinton has said she's sorry. Five months into her campaign for president, she has released a statement about her exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. We're joined now by NPR's Tamara Keith who's been covering Clinton's presidential campaign. Tam, good morning.


INSKEEP: OK, so four bullet points, here, from Hillary Clinton. Let just run through them. Item number one says, quote, "Hillary takes responsibility for her decision to use a personal account and the challenges it has created." So has she taken full responsibility here?

KEITH: This is a yes and no answer. Clinton, this week in an interview with ABC's David Muir, did say that using her personal server and account for all of her State Department business was a mistake and that she is sorry. But this is something of a new development. Other times, she has said she's sorry for the confusion that this arrangement created, which could translate to be, I'm sorry this bothers you. I want to play some tape for you. This is sort of a montage of how she's talked about her server over time.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I recently launched a Snapchat account. Those messages disappear all by themselves.

My personal emails are my personal business, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: What, like, with a cloth or something?


CLINTON: At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions.

That was mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility.

KEITH: So, as you can tell, she's gotten more sorry over time. And in part, it's because it's causing her problems - political problems.

INSKEEP: OK, so that's question one. Is she taking responsibility? Yes and no, or recently she has. Item two, this is from the campaign. Hillary's use of a private email account was allowed under State Department rules. That's the statement. Was it allowed under the rules?

KEITH: Government watchdogs and experts on federal regulations that we've spoken to say that Clinton didn't violate the letter of the law when it comes to disclosure and record keeping, but they argue she violated the spirit of the rules. And since Clinton left the State Department, rules for record keeping have changed, and now she truly couldn't do what she did back then.

INSKEEP: OK, so statement one - I take responsibility. Statement two - was somewhat allowed, yes. Then item number three in the Clinton statement, quote, "Nothing she sent or received was marked classified." Is that true?

KEITH: The key word there is marked. Initially, Clinton said that none of the emails contained classified information. But as the State Department has begun releasing her emails to the public, intelligence agencies and others have been reviewing the emails, and they've been asking for redactions. More than a hundred emails have been retroactively classified. Clinton's campaign chalks this up to feuding between agencies and a classification system they say has sort of run amok. But let's say that the classification question isn't entirely settled yet.

INSKEEP: OK, so true statement there. Nothing was marked classified, or doesn't seem that very much was marked classified, but there's a question about what classification means. Now, item number four here in Hillary's statement - she provided all of her work-related emails to the State Department. Did she?

KEITH: You're going to have to take her word for it, seriously, because the way this was set up, her team went through all of the emails, decided what was personal, what was work-related, sent all of the official emails to the State Department, and then they deleted everything. So, truly, you're going to have to take her word for it.

INSKEEP: So if we were going to summarize Hillary Clinton's four points and your fact-checking, Tamara Keith, I guess we could say that each point has truth in it, but there's much more to say about each point. So what more is going to be said, here, and by whom?

KEITH: Hillary Clinton is going to appear before the House Benghazi committee next month. As you'll remember, this all started because of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi and this committee exploring what happened there, and then it led to her private email server. Yesterday, the IT guy that set up the server was called before the committee, but he invoked the Fifth, so he didn't testify. Hillary Clinton's campaign says that they strongly encouraged him to testify, but he chose not to. They're in sort of classic crisis communications mode now, which means she's getting out there, she's answering as many questions as she possibly can about this, trying to wear people out, if you will. She'd rather talk about women's issues, and in the weeks ahead, health care. But it's unclear how many people will be listening.

INSKEEP: Tamara Keith, thanks very much.

KEITH: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: We're listening to you. She is NPR's correspondent covering the Clinton campaign. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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