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Clinton Says She Let Lawyers Decide Whether Emails Were Work or Personal

Former Secretary of State says she didn’t look at emails before turning them over to State Department

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, shown speaking at a community forum in Iowa on Tuesday, said Sunday that she relied on her attorneys to determine which of her emails related to work and which were personal before turning them over to the State Department. ENLARGE
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, shown speaking at a community forum in Iowa on Tuesday, said Sunday that she relied on her attorneys to determine which of her emails related to work and which were personal before turning them over to the State Department. Photo: Associated Press

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that she didn’t personally review her emails to determine which related to work and which were personal before turning them over to the State Department, but relied on her attorneys to make the proper determinations.

Asked on NBC whether it was possible that work-related emails were wrongly deleted from her personal server, she replied that the process was “exhaustive” but that she didn’t personally participate.

“I didn’t look at them,” she said. “I wanted them to be as clear in their process as possible. I didn’t want to be looking over their shoulder. If they thought it was work-related, it would go to the State Department. If not, then it would not.”

Mrs. Clinton both restated her confidence in the process her attorneys used but also removed herself from the decision making. She said that after that process was complete, she told her staff that she didn’t need the personal emails and they were deleted.

Her comments followed reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is examining the server she used for her work and personal email as secretary of state, has recovered some of the deleted emails. She has signed an affidavit testifying that she did turn over all work-related emails, but her critics have questioned that assertion.

Asked if emails related to the work of the Clinton Foundation would have been considered work or personal, she said that she didn’t communicate with the foundation about work-related matters but that anything related to the work of the State Department would have been turned over.

Mrs. Clinton was also asked about discrepancies in when she first began using her personal account, replying “there was a transition period” as she took office. “You know, I wasn’t that focused on my email account,” she said.

A Clinton aide said that Mrs. Clinton’s email account began being hosted on her personal server in March 2009, which is why the records turned over to the State Department begin then. But, the aide said, the domain was bought in January 2009, and “it appears she started using it” before it was housed on the server.

Mrs. Clinton said setting up the personal system was less complicated that it might seem, noting the server was already in place for her husband, former President Bill Clinton. “It was sitting there in the basement. It was not any trouble at all,” she said. “I added my account to it and it apparently took a little time to do that.” She rejected the idea that she did so in part to avoid scrutiny from congressional subpoenas or Freedom of Information Request Act requests.

She said that there was “about a month” in which there was nothing on the server.

“It’s totally ridiculous. That never crossed my mind,” she said. She said she assumed her emails would be available because she mostly was emailing to colleagues’ government email addresses.

She also was asked about concerns among supporters that the email story will persist in “drip, drip, drip” fashion and asked whether she could assure them that there is nothing else out there.

“It is like a drip, drip, drip, and that’s why I said there’s only so much that I can control,” she said. “I can’t predict to you what the Republicans will come up with, what kind of, you know, charges or claims they might make. I have no control over that.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee, Michael Short, said Sunday Mrs. Clinton is misleading the American public. “She continues to perpetuate falsehoods about being transparent when the server itself was an exercise in skirting public records laws,” he said in a statement.

Mrs. Clinton said voters will have to decide how important the email issue is to them.“If people are uncertain, if they have concerns around these questions about the emails, it is their choice to say, ‘That’s going to influence, you know, how I think about the election.’ I understand that, I get it,” she said. But she said she hopes that people will also look at her record of advocating for families and her proposals to deal with raising incomes, and dealing with the high costs of college and prescription drugs and other issues. “That’s what I hope people focus on and people can make their minds up.”

She added that in the 1990s, she was subject to “the same kind of barrage” of criticism and still the voters of the New York sent her to the Senate because they were more concerned about what she would do to help them. “I trust the voters to make that decision this time around too,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton also addressed her changed positions on three high-profile issues: legality of same-sex marriage, which she now supports, and building the Keystone XL pipeline and the Iraq war, both of which she now opposes. On Keystone, for instance, she said that people now know more about the “dirtiness” of the oil being extracted from the Canadian tar sands, which would be transported by the new pipeline if built.

“I’m not one who...stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence or regardless of the way I perceive what’s happening in the world around me,” she said. “That’s where the Republicans are.”

Write to Laura Meckler at

james benning
james benning subscriber

every time she speaks the story changes.....

Carlos Sepeda
Carlos Sepeda subscriber

How can one certify compliance if they were not involved in the process? This is how HRC lies and then backs up her lies with other lies. Everyone needs to beware as the younger version of HRC may pick up the baton and run for public office based on a platform of lies and deception. America has had enough of the Clintons.

DON OWEN subscriber

Last time I checked Hillary you are an attorney. If you can't do your own stuff Hillary don't try to do ours. You are exactly what we thought you were.

SCOTT LUCAS subscriber

If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium.

One would think this much spinning would require Dramamine for her to not become seasick.

David Peterson
David Peterson user

I thought the State Department rules required HER to make that determination.

Jim Olson
Jim Olson subscriber

Then, why did she say "we" repeatedly when asked about said E-mails and their deletions?  The smartest woman in the world is not smart enough to lie convincingly.  Integrity is a terrible thing to lose.  It's gone Hillary, and will never be restored.

Mac Moore
Mac Moore subscriber

“I’m not one who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence or regardless of the way I perceive what’s happening around me,” (Clinton) said.

Of course not, she changes positions for votes.

John Saxelby
John Saxelby subscriber

So this means that lawyers that probably do not or did not have clearances were looking at material that either was or should have been classified.  How do they get away with this.  Anybody else doing this would be in jail by now.

James Curl
James Curl subscriber

Is throwing your attorneys under the bus a good strategy?

JOHN CASSIDY subscriber

@Greg Daniel

 I love how her excuse is that at the time what she did was allowed. 

She is one of those people who know what they are doing is wrong but since there is no written rule against it she will do it. 

That is why every workplace has a book full of stupid rules because some people can't use common sense. 

They are always looking for that gray area in order to get over on everybody else. 

That alone speaks volume of her character. 

Horrible individual.

JOHN CASSIDY subscriber

Not what I'd call a 'conscience of innocence' wiping that server clean. 

That's something an online sexual predator or a cheating spouse would do 

M Whiting
M Whiting subscriber

I did not have sex with that server.

JOHN CASSIDY subscriber

@M Whiting


Hillary and Slick Willy were a match made somewhere but certainly not heaven as these are two like peas in a pod.

America cannot suffer and survive even four years under Hillary after what will be eight years under Obama when he has finished his promised fundamental change of America.

STEVEN BURGER, MD subscriber

The really damaging revelations to come out of the e-mails will not necessarily relate to Benghazi or the exposure of classified material (not to minimize the significance, but the Clintons' will somehow likely spin their way out of these). Rather it will be the "pay to play" nature of the Clinton Foundation and its relationship to the Secretary of State and her husband's speaking engagements. The fact that they claimed charitable donation tax deductions to the tune of nearly $15 million over the last ten years, all to their very own Clinton Foundation, might complicate matters for them even further. Tax evasion? Treason??

SCOTT LUCAS subscriber

The Clinton Global Initiative money laundering scheme required the use of a private server.

Moe Zevon
Moe Zevon subscriber

You could see this coming a hundred miles away: "I just followed the advice of legal counsel.". Hillary's never at fault for anything.

John Trottman
John Trottman subscriber

Devoid of any character. Seems to be the new requirement to be president.

David Oetting
David Oetting subscriber

"Hi Bill,  Huma told me the Saudi Prince wants to have dinner with you, Chelsea and Me about the Foundation.  There was mention of a contribution.  He also wants to compare yoga routines.  Can you give a speech or do I have to?  What's a good date?"

Okay--work or personal?  Which is it?

Stephen Cooke
Stephen Cooke subscriber

Does anyone out there still believe a word this woman says? She is a compulsive liar, and backs it up considerable natural talent.

Peter Von Nessi
Peter Von Nessi subscriber

@Stephen Cooke 

According to some recent polls, 31% of Democrats don't believe she is lying about anything. What does that say about Democrats. I guess the donkey mascot is quite appropriate...stubbornly stupid and obtuse!

Ken Luskin
Ken Luskin user

Hillary = Pathological LIAR!

She hired lawyers to PROTECT her,  that is their JOB!

It no longer matters if the e-mails are personal or not, because the 

FBI is NOT limited in their investigation.

Hillary is in deep trouble.

She is basically finished as a candidate for president, because most voters now see her as a LIAR!

The real question is whether the FBI finds enough grounds to recommend that the DOJ indict her. 

David Oetting
David Oetting subscriber

@Ken Luskin  If the server was used for State business, I say it's the States' server--not Billy Bob's, HRC's or the Foundation.  And if anything was removed from the State's server, it's a crime.  Period.

EDWARD HUGHES subscriber

Why doesn't anyone ask ? 1). Why did you need a lawyer in the first place? 2). Did you ask the State Department lawyers to get clearance for your lawyers to review potentially top secret information and /or classified information? 3). Why do you always state that others in your position did what you did, yet NONE set up their own servers?

George Rebovich
George Rebovich subscriber

Is she politically deaf and dumb?

"Let my lawyers handle it" is about as sensitive as "let them eat cake."

And we know the outcome of that line.

Bill Fotsch
Bill Fotsch subscriber

NBC, which might as well be referred to as the liberal left's news networks, tries to work with Hillary to come up with excuses for her criminal behavior, and this was the best they could do?  Really?  Speaks volumes of the Democrats, that this is the leader of their party.  But then, after a failed Obama presidency and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, they don't have much bench strength or track record.

If the Republicans can't beat this group, they ought to hang it up.


Did I say that? Really? Bill, who do we blame this time? Bill? Bill?

luke seidel
luke seidel subscriber

Someone please arrest this lying traitor..DOJ...anybody???

Scott Horsburgh
Scott Horsburgh subscriber

No, wait for a Republican administration before trying the lying Techno-hag of Benghazi. If she's convicted under Obama, he can pardon her.

Frederick A. Green
Frederick A. Green subscriber

"...she replied that the process was “exhaustive” but that she didn’t personally participate."

Yeah. Right.

Peter Von Nessi
Peter Von Nessi subscriber

@Frederick A. Green 

""...she replied that the process was “exhaustive” but that she didn’t personally participate."

Hey, it takes a lot of vigilance to be so evasive and to try to cover your tracks so that all of your excuses jive with each other! That's the problem with liars. It takes a lot of energy to keep the con going!

David Harrison
David Harrison subscriber

Mrs. Clinton's campaign is in the final death throes of a Presidential Candidate that was deliberately sabotaged by her own party in 2008.  The Democrats threw her overboard because an inexperienced, minority, political novice was more attractive to that party than a woman. Her time is passed, but no-one in her party has the fortitude to tell her.

The continuing saga with the emails is the Party's way of telling her she is done. 

William Luse
William Luse subscriber

A colleague of mine once pointed out that telling the truth is, in the end, much easier than lying.  If one tells the truth, all of the details naturally fit together.  If one lies, one must take great pains that the fabricated details all mesh together.  This fabrication process is prone to error.  Hillary Clinton's email problems are a clear example of this principle.

Gary Stevenson
Gary Stevenson subscriber

@William Luse  And when you tell the truth, people trust you.  When you lie, people may be close to you,  but they will never trust you.

I wonder if Hillary has any idea what actual happiness is - not pleasure from money or power -  but what it means to actually feel simply happy.

She does not strike me as someone who has any idea what that could even mean.

Gary Stevenson
Gary Stevenson subscriber

Did she, as former secretary of state, make sure her laywers had the clearance necessary to  review classified material?  Or was she too inept to realize that the material she produced, as secretary of state, would be classified?

Does any one really want to vote for a woman who's best defense is "I'm too dumb to know what my responsibilities are?"

I do hope that those of us here who are already preaching to the choir will take some time to go on other forums, like the Washington Post, to make sure these simple points are being made to an audience not already in agreement on the absolute disgustingly way Hillary has been acting.  As for the NYT -that readership is already drowining in their own koolaide.                                          

Kelly Sherwin
Kelly Sherwin subscriber

Here's what Hillary's ought to be informed of when she's arrested:

  • You have the right to remain silent when questioned.
  • Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.
  • If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
  • Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
  • Douglas Oglesby
    Douglas Oglesby subscriber

    She said voters will have to decide how important the email issue is to them. >

    The email issue is very important, much more so than she would like us to think it is -- simply bad judgment and inattention.  The email issue is a window into how corrupt and dishonest Hildebeest is.  She expects voters to believe inherently unbelievable assertions, and she lies when a lie hurts her more than the truth would.  

    Unless her lawyers had appropriate security clearances and a need to know, she violated Federal law by disclosing classified information to persons not authorized to receive it.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  Again, this is another example of her inherent corruptness.  

    A Eichler
    A Eichler subscriber

    Mrs. Clinton insists that her use of a private server was permitted,“What I did was allowed.”  She told the AP before her ABC interview,“It was allowed by the State Department.” When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell pressed her on warnings about personal email account in the State Department’s operating manual and the U.S. code, “It was allowed,” Mrs. Clinton said.

    Two questions remain as to the “allowed” assertion:

    1) Did Ms.Clinton or staff ask the State Department Office of the Legal Adviser for permission for her private, jury-rigged email arrangement or did anyone consult the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to receive to permission for this highly unusual arrangement?

    2) Or did she simply decide its legality and security status on her own; a form of self-endorsement?

    Producing the the signed/dated documents from Archives would immediately end this issue.

    William Eichler

    Gary Stevenson
    Gary Stevenson subscriber

    @A Eichler  Excellent point - I would like to see her provide in writing where it was allowed, despite the policies saying it was not allowed. 

    She says it's allowed - prove it - show the opinion she got from either of those offices or from the White House saying her arrangement was permissible.

    Leonard Reaves
    Leonard Reaves user

    So, even though the attorneys DID NOT have security clearances, she still let them have access to "highly classified information."    Isn't this against the law?    Isn't it about time for the "dogs" to dig up those bones and turn everything over to the Attorney General for indictment.    Every time she opens her mouth the story just gets more unbelievable.    

    BARRY MILLER subscriber

    It's almost time to plead no contest to a misdemeanor, return to the warmth and security of her relationship with Bill, derail the idiotic Biden campaign in it's infancy (he has proven to be misguided concerning most major issues plus he's past his sell date), and move on to a serious, worthy candidate.  Bless Sanders, a decent person, but he is not the one. 

    Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, debating Hillary Clinton would have been fun to watch but now seems unlikely.

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