Washington (CNN)Sen. Dianne Feinstein this weekend became one of the first prominent Democrats to criticize former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of the growing controversy surrounding her use of a private email domain and server during her time at State.
Top Dem: Silence on emails hurts Clinton
"What I would like is for her to come forward and say just what the situation is," Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" this weekend.
As a "preeminent political figure," Clinton needs to "come out and state exactly" why she didn't use an official government email, Feinstein said.
"She is the leading candidate, whether it be Republican or Democrat, for the next president...from this point on, the silence is going to hurt her," she added.
News that Clinton set up a private server housed in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home and routed all of her official correspondence through that server caused a firestorm of controversy surrounding the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee last week.
It's unclear whether Clinton broke any laws or regulations in doing so, though Feinstein defended her against such claims, pointing to a law signed by President Barack Obama last November requiring government officials to direct their official correspondence conducted through private email to a government account.
"That in itself said the situation wasn't clear," she said. "It has to be cleared up."
Clinton last week in a tweet said she asked the State Department to release 55,000 pages of documents that she had turned over for review, but because she has control over her server some have questioned whether that document dump covers the full extent of her correspondence at State.
Other than that tweet, however, she's been silent on the topic. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, declined to weigh in on the controversy this weekend as well, telling CNN, "I shouldn't be making news on this."