US Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton says she never ordered officials at the State Department to keep quiet about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Clinton made the remarks in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, days after the release of the State Department inspector general’s report that found that some staff members were told to remain silent about Clinton’s unusual activity.
The report claimed that Clinton never sought approval for her personal email setup, that her use of the system violated the department’s record-keeping rules and that it would have been rejected had she asked department officials.
According to the report, two Information Resources Management staffers of the State Department expressed concerns with Clinton about her activity in 2010.
One staff member recalled that the Information Resources Management director said Clinton’s personal email system had been reviewed and approved by legal staff “and that the matter was not to be discussed any further,” the report noted.
“I do not know who that person is or, you know, what that person might have said because it’s not anything that I am aware of,” Clinton said. “I emailed with hundreds of people, and I emailed department officials directly with my email as other secretaries have done.”
“I certainly never instructed anyone to hide the fact I was using a personal email,” Clinton said. “It was obvious to hundreds of people, visible to the many people that I was emailing throughout the State Department and the rest of the federal government.”
The State Department watchdog’s damning report released last week was just the first in what is likely to be a series of official actions related to Clinton’s private email server kept in her New York state home.
Just as the likely Democratic presidential nominee hopes to shift towards a general election campaign against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, it will face its toughest inquiry in the next few weeks.
For months, Clinton and her campaign aides have failed to provide a compelling explanation for the use of the private server, and she has consistently refused to apologize.
What is potentially more damaging for Clinton is the ongoing FBI investigation, exploring the possibility that she or her aides mishandled classified information.
A federal judge recently said that Clinton herself may be forced to answer questions under oath, which would dramatically escalate the uproar surrounding the case.
More than 2,000 emails sent and received by Clinton while working as the top US diplomat between 2009 and 2013 include classified information, which the government bans from being handled outside secure, government-controlled channels.