Hillary Clinton has publicly apologized for using a private email server while she was secretary of state, calling her actions “a mistake.” It’s the first time Clinton has admitted fault, despite previously arguing that what she did was lawful.
“That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” Clinton said in an interview with David Muir of ABC News. “And I’m trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.”
Clinton’s much-awaited statement comes just a day after the former secretary of state sat with the Associated Press and told the news agency that what she did was “allowed” and that there is nothing to apologize for.
In another interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News last week, Clinton said that she was only “sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions.” She insisted that there were “answers to all these questions.”
“I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn’t perhaps appreciate the need to do that,” she told ABC News on Tuesday. “What I had done was allowed, it was above board. But in retrospect, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails.”
Clinton, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, has been arguing for months that the information in her emails was not classified at the time. The State Department confirmed earlier that 125 of the emails contained “confidential” information, but said they were “not marked ‘classified’ at the time the emails were sent.”
Since Clinton’s server did not encrypt emails, critics have also raised concerns that hackers may have obtained classified information from her correspondence. The Clinton campaign maintains there were no breaches in security.
Clinton’s advisers see the email conflict as one of the main issues that have hindered her campaign, resulting in a slide in the polls and a barrage of criticism.
A Monmouth University Poll released Tuesday pegged Clinton’s support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide at 42 percent, a drop of 10 points since last month. In her AP interview, however, Clinton maintained that the email saga had not hurt her 2016 campaign.
“It’s a distraction, certainly,” she said. “But it hasn’t in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we’re making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country.”
She also said the conflict did not affect her personally “very much.”
“I have worked really hard this summer, sticking to my game plan about how I wanted to sort of reintroduce myself to the American people.”
Clinton’s private email set-up was first revealed in March, leading to heavy criticism. The FBI has launched an investigation to find out who at the State Department sent the information to Clinton’s private email account. The Justice Department has also begun an investigation into the legality of the use of a private email server for government communication.
Under a court order, batches of Clinton’s emails have been published monthly since May. So far, she has turned over some 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, which is currently reviewing and releasing them. The largest batch was released on September 2.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Tuesday that the State Department is planning to hire 50 temporary workers to boost the office’s capacity. The extra staff will not work on the monthly email releases, but on the backlog of more than 10,000 Freedom of Information Act requested in 2014. Currently, 20 full-time State Department employees and 30 part-time staff are working on Clinton’s emails.
On Saturday, Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign, confirmed that both Hillary and former President Bill Clinton personally paid the State Department staffer who managed their private email server.