Disclosure of Clinton's private email account as Secretary of State prompts investigations

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Updated March 05, 2015 02:40 PM
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

Responding for the first time to political oddsmakers and cable news anchors buzzing about whether she was hiding something with her private email account for official State Department business, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter just before midnight Wednesday to address the matter herself.

“I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible,” she Tweeted in response to speculation over the New York Times‘s scoop published on Monday.

The State Department press office followed Clinton’s Tweet with an email statement just before 1 a.m. assuring reporters that the bureaucracy will review Clinton’s cache of old email for public release “as quickly as possible.” But, cautioned spokesperson Marie Harf, “given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

Clinton’s directive via Twitter capped a day that saw fresh subpoenas from congressional investigators (looking for emails related to the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya), a new Freedom of Information Act filing from watchdog group Judicial Watch (they mysteriously want to see what Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin might have said via email about – and to – the wife of ousted Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi), and legal action threatened by The Associated Press, which wants action on its own year-old FOIA request for Clinton emails.

The pileup of inquiries and timing of Clinton’s first words on the controversy led Bloomberg Politics reporter Dave Weigel to Tweet 10 minutes after Clinton did: “Nothing says ‘I hate you, media’ like making reporters scramble at 11:45 p.m. ET.”

Clinton’s use of a private, “homebrew” email server – with addresses at @clintonemail.com that were also given to Abedin and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, using the alias Diane Reynolds – apparently was news to even the White House Counsel’s Office. The AP reports that President Obama’s lawyers did not know at the time that his then-Secretary Clinton was conducting business exclusively on her own email server.

Questions now swirl about whether the private account violated government record-keeping rules.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said that “both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use nongovernment e-mail, as long as appropriate records were preserved.” Merrill went on to point out that the current Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, is the first one to use an official email account for State business.

Traveling in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Kerry did not sound like he has carefully followed the stir. Asked if State had all of Clinton’s private-server emails to review for release – or only those Clinton selected to provide to State – Kerry replied, “I think we have all the ones that are state.gov, which are appropriately the ones in the purview of the Department. But let me check on that when I actually have time to pay attention to such an important issue when I get home.”

Earlier Wednesday, a TMZ photographer caught up with Clinton at Reagan National Airport and asked her about the email “blunder.”

Clinton, accompanied by two men who appeared to be security, simply smiled and kept walking.