Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that she could not fully explain the discovery of a string of work emails sent from her personal account more than two months earlier than when she has said she first began using that address as secretary of state.
But she said she hoped voters would look past what she called the “drip, drip, drip” of the furor over her emails.
“There was a transition period. You know, I wasn’t that focused on my email,” Clinton said on “Meet the Press,” when asked about emails sent from her personal account in her first two months after taking office in January 2009. Clinton had previously said she did not begin using a clintonemail.com address for State Department business until that March.
The State Department said on Friday that Clinton had exchanged emails in late January and February 2009 with Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the commander of the U.S. Central Command.
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Pressed to explain the discrepancy, Clinton said it was beyond her technical understanding.
She said the clintonemail.com server had existed in the basement of her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, for years when she added her account. “It apparently took a little time to do that. And so there was about a month where I didn’t have everything already on the server and we went back, tried to, you know, recover whatever we could recover,” she said. “And I think it’s also fair to say that, you know, there are some things about this that I just can’t control.”
”I am by no means a technical expert,” she added. “I relied on people who were.”
The issue of whether Clinton has been forthcoming about when she began using the personal account – email@example.com – is only the latest email-related question to beset her presidential campaign, distracting from her policy positions and message.
In the interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News, which the network allowed reporters to listen to before it was broadcast Sunday morning, Clinton repeatedly recalled that New Yorkers had looked past the partisan scandals that had plagued her husband’s presidency in electing her to the Senate.
“The voters of New York, they overlooked all of that and they looked at my record and they looked at what I would do for them,” she said. “I was elected senator after going through years of this kind of back and forth. And it is, you know, it’s regrettable, but it’s part of the system.”
When Todd prefaced a question by saying he wanted to pose “an alternative explanation that has sort of been circulating,” Clinton laughed. “Another conspiracy theory?” she interjected, repeating a line Todd had used at the outset of the interview. The other possible explanation, he said, was that Clinton had perhaps used a private server because she planned to run for president in 2016 and wanted to shield her correspondence from any potential congressional investigations or Freedom of Information Act requests.
“It’s totally ridiculous. That never crossed my mind,” she said.
Still, when Todd suggested that the cycle of allegations, explanations and further explanations by her campaign had “the feel of a drip, drip, drip” and asked if she could reassure Democrats “that there’s nothing else here,” Clinton demurred.
“It is like a drip, drip, drip,” she said. “And that’s why I said, there’s only so much that I can control.”
Clinton repeatedly said she handed over all work-related emails and was not involved in her lawyers’ decisions about which emails met that definition. “I didn’t want to be looking over their shoulder. If they thought it was work-related, it would go to the State Department,” she said.
“That’s the limit of my knowledge. And I know I was a little sarcastic about it in one exchange with the press,” she said, alluding to an exchange last month with a Fox News reporter about whether her server had been wiped clean. “Sorry guys, but you know, I’m not a technical expert.”