Clinton's email excuse won't quiet critics

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton broke eight days of silence on the imbroglio that has engulfed her nascent presidential campaign, showing contrition and hoping to get past an email episode that underscores the biggest challenge she faces in 2016: Can she reinvent herself or will she be forever dogged by how she has approached controversies of her past?

The fact that Clinton stood before a circus of barking reporters on Tuesday -- even in the formal setting of the United Nations -- was an attempt to show that she heard the call for more transparency. But by allowing the controversy to swelter for days, even friendly Democrats wondered whether she and her team were capable of turning a new leaf.
Nearly a dozen advisers, admirers and donors have told CNN this week that Clinton needed to step forward and finally address the matter to avoid falling victim to her own caricature.
While Clinton may have satisfied many of her supporters, Republicans said her explanation was merely an attempt to diffuse the scrutiny she's faced -- and not a move toward transparency.
    They noted that Clinton hasn't invited an independent arbiter to verify her claims that she turned over everything tied to her official duties, that she never emailed classified information and that her home server is secure -- and that she indicated she has no plans to do so.
    "No one wants their personal emails made public," she said.
    Clinton admitted she'd erred in using a personal email address on a private server during her four years as secretary of state. But she called her mistake an innocent one driven by a practical concern.
    "I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal e-mails than two," Clinton said. "I did it for convenience, and I now looking back think that it might have been smarter to have two devices from the very beginning."
    Clinton said she'd sent about 60,000 emails during her four years as secretary of state. About half of those, she said, were work-related, and they've been turned over to the State Department, where they will eventually be made public.
    She said she deleted the rest, saying they were "not in any way related to my work. I had no reason to save them."
    The explanation didn't satisfy Republicans who have complained that she is policing herself -- with a key House member promising to make her email usage the subject of at least one congressional hearing. Being probed by House Republicans, though, is familiar territory for Clinton.
    More broadly, her potential 2016 rivals said they weren't buying her comment that another email address would have required another device -- especially since many people use more than one email address on a single phone as it is, and the address she was using was already a private one.
    David Kochel, the Republican operative managing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential campaign, tweeted: "I have five email accounts. Why don't I have five devices?"
    Clinton's explanation will also do little to slow House Republicans who see the controversy as their best shot at obtaining emails they've sought for years.
    Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who chairs the House panel investigating the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, said he plans to haul the former secretary of state in for hearings "at least twice."
    Gowdy also said he sees "no choice" but for Clinton to hand her server to an independent arbiter who would sort through her emails and decide which of them should be made public.
    "Secretary Clinton alone created this predicament, but she alone does not get to determine its outcome," he said in a statement.
    Clinton's news conference was tightly controlled -- it lasted just 20 minutes, with questioners hand-picked by aide Nick Merrill -- and left a number of issues, like the measures taken to keep it secure, unaddressed.
    The question, though, was whether the email controversy opened the door for another Democratic candidate to challenge Clinton's front-runner status.
    That scenario seems highly unlikely -- for now, at least -- as no potential Democratic rivals have stepped forward in hopes of seizing a moment of vulnerability or opportunity.
    "I think it's a good time for the air to be cleared," said Jim Webb, a former Virginia senator who is eyeing a possible Democratic run himself.
    Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has staked out ground to Clinton's left, was blunt in his desire to avoid the topic, saying: "I really don't want to talk about Hillary Clinton."