Hillary Clinton emails: Did she do anything wrong or not?

(CNN)Hillary Clinton's email use is under the microscope after reports revealed that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account during her time as secretary of state.

Clinton not only skipped out on getting a State Department email account, but used a private email server registered to her home address, which gave her and her aides more control over her email records.
Republicans didn't skip a beat, spending the week hammering the presumptive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination over her secretive email habits as the news cycle mushroomed.
    But did Clinton do anything wrong? Or has this become an overblown saga?
    Is Clinton email criticism warranted?
    Is Clinton email criticism warranted?

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      Is Clinton email criticism warranted?

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    Is Clinton email criticism warranted? 04:24
    Let's dive in.

    Did Clinton break any State Department rules?

    As of now, there's no evidence that Clinton violated any State Department rules. But there's a chance she did.
    There's no outright ban at the State Department on using a personal email address to conduct official government business.
    But a 2005 State Department policy on "sensitive but unclassified information" explains that employees should conduct "normal day-to-day operations" through the State Department's official email system to protect the security of the emails' contents.
    Clinton has now handed over 55,000 emails stemming from her duties as the U.S.'s chief diplomat, but there is no evidence yet that Clinton disclosed that type of sensitive information in those emails. That's because they have yet to be released.

    Is the State Department looking into whether Clinton violated that policy?

    Nope. State Department officials will comb through the 55,000 emails Clinton and her aides submitted to the department for review, but only to determine which emails should be publicly released in accordance with federal open records laws.
    If she did, though, it wasn't just an oversight by Clinton and her aides, but any high-ranking official she exchanged emails with, who would have all seen that they were exchanging emails with Clinton's personal address.

    Is there a precedent? Did her predecessors use private email?

    They did. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice both had personal email accounts during their time at the helm of the State Department.
    Powell also used personal email to communicate with ambassadors, foreign ministers and his own State Department staff. He also had and used an official State Department email, though.
    Rice also had both a State account and personal email address, but one of her aides told CNN that the former secretary of state "rarely used email during her tenure at State." And when she did, "her State email was the vehicle for official communication. She did not use personal email for official communication as secretary," the aide said.
    And Rice's rare use of email may reveal why the Clinton email saga is a much bigger deal. Email is much more widely used today, especially by high-ranking officials, than it was when Rice became secretary of state ten years ago.

    Is there a double standard here?

    That's definitely the point Democrats are trying to make.
    But while Powell may have used his personal email address to conduct State Department business, he also used a State Department account, which Clinton did not.
    Beyond that, though, Clinton also used an email account that fed through its own server -- unlike a personal email account that goes through a service like Gmail or Yahoo, for example -- according to an Associated Press report.
    And that's what's most eyebrow-raising.
    Housing her email exchanges on her own server gave Clinton a lot more control over the fate of that correspondence. Clinton could have permanently deleted emails, for example.
    There's no evidence that she did, but Republicans are up in arms over the revelations as they continue their investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi -- which happened under Clinton's watch. The House select committee leading that investigation on Wednesday subpoenaed Clinton's emails related to the attack.

    So with her own server, did she also got to handpick which emails went to the State Department for public release, right?

    That's right, she and her aides made those calls.
    But when Clinton was in office, emails on federal accounts weren't automatically archived either and Clinton and her aides would have done some handpicking as well.

    She just submitted those emails? She didn't have to do that immediately?

    Nope. During the time Clinton was in office, the Federal Records Act required government employees ensure personal emails tied to government business was conserved "in the appropriate agency record keeping system."
    That law was updated in 2014, requiring official emails sent from a personal address be forwarded to an official government email within 20 days. That law came after Clinton left office.

    So it looks like there's no smoking gun. But her decision to use a personal email account stored on her own private server raises questions, at best, especially when you're (likely) running for president. Anything else?

    There's also a tinge of hypocrisy in the air.
    During Clinton's personal-email-using, private-server-having tenure, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration was criticized and ultimately pushed out of his post in part for using a personal email address "for official government business, including Sensitive But Unclassified information."
    Again, there's no evidence Clinton included "sensitive but unclassified information" in her emails, but a State Department investigation skewed the ambassador in question for using his personal email at all in his official capacity. (He also used an official government email.)
    The 2012 Inspector General's report, which was released shortly after Gration resigned his post as the ambassador in Kenya, wrote that the use of personal email was against policy "except in emergencies" and repeatedly slams him for using "commercial email for official government business."
    All the while, Clinton was exclusively using her personal email.
    There's just one more tidbit revealed in a 2011 internal, unclassified, diplomatic cable from Clinton's office -- though there's no evidence she personally reviewed the cable. It gives the department's employees guidance on "securing personal e-mail accounts," Fox News reported.
    One of the guidelines?
    "Avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail account."