Hillary Clinton is fed up with questions from the press on her email use
It's led to some testy exchanges, as well as a few jokes
Hillary Clinton’s response to the media’s coverage of her use of a private email server for months has alternated between frustration and mockery.
And that’s led the Democratic presidential front-runner to offer up some off-the-cuff remarks about the controversy.
Here are seven of her most eyebrow-raising comments about her emails – plus two bonus quotes, from the two former presidents Clinton has said she’d use as a personal references:
1. “What, like with a cloth or something?”
This comment – in a testy exchange Tuesday afternoon with reporters in Las Vegas – was Clinton’s attempt to play technology dummy.
Asked about reports that her server had been wiped to remove its prior contents, including her emails, Clinton suggested she had no idea what that would even mean. “I don’t know how it works digitally at all,” she said, adding that the Justice Department would find what it needed.
2. “Those messages disappear all by themselves.”
Clinton jokingly compared her account on Snapchat – the popular social messaging app where pictures are erased after recipients see them – to her emails in a Friday night appearance at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner in Clear Lake.
The remark went over well in the room, but she was hammered – particularly by Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – over social media, and it led to yet another round of news reports about an issue that has hampered her campaign.
3. “No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy. After all, what good did that do for me?”
In March, a month before she officially announced her candidacy for president, Clinton joked at Syracuse University’s Toner Prize dinner about her emails – and, more broadly, about her desire to improve her relationship with the political press.
It was an acknowledgment that her previous strategy hadn’t worked in her favor.
“With a room full of political reporters, I thought to myself, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’” Clinton joked before calling her relationship with the press “complicated.”
“But I am all about new beginnings,” Clinton added. “A new grandchild, another new hairstyle, a new email account. Why not a new relationship with the press? So here it goes: No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy. After all, what good did that do for me?”
4. The White House wouldn’t have been hacked “had they been using my server.”
According to a New York Post report, Clinton addressed the ongoing controversy at a private fundraiser in June after reports of a major cybersecurity breach at the Office of Personnel Management.
She sarcastically suggested that her unconventional arrangement was actually safer and that perhaps the hack, which affected even White House staffers, could have been avoided “had they been using my server.”
5. “Maybe the heat is getting to everybody.”
Despite being the first major policy address of her 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton’s speech on economic policy in late July at New York University was not immune to the email controversy.
Before launching into a fiery condemnation of corporate culture and pitching a package of economic reforms, Clinton mocked the furor over her emails.
“There’s been a lot of inaccuracies as Congressman (Elijah) Cummings made very clear this morning,” she argued. “Maybe the heat is getting to everybody.”
“We all have a responsibility to get things right. I have released 55,000 pages of emails and said repeatedly that I would answer questions before the House committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right. And I will abide by that. And I will also stay focused on the issues particularly on the big issues that really matter.”
6. “Now I think it’s kind of fun. People get a real-time, behind-the-scenes look at what I was emailing about and what I was communicating about.”
Clinton granted her first major interview after the launch of her campaign to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and the topic of her emails hung over the conversation.
After offering a serious defense of her practices, Clinton used more light-hearted language to describe the process of releasing her emails, suggesting the process was “kind of fun.”
With the damage to her campaign caused by the scandals – prompting rumors of presidential runs by Vice President Joe Biden and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore – and polls showing her favorability and trustworthiness ratings slipping among voters, “fun” might no longer be a word Clinton would use to address the email issue.
7. “Sitting in a meeting in the State Department, asking for iced tea, may not rise to the level of negotiating peace. But I went above and beyond.”
Even as Clinton tried to tout the release of her emails as a “fun” insight into her tenure as America’s top diplomat, she couldn’t hide her sense that the entire exercise is trivial.
She offered assurances that she’d turned over everything that could possibly be construed as work-related – no matter how irrelevant – in the 55,000 pages of emails her team had handed over to the State Department. But at the same time, she hadn’t yet turned over her server, which meant Republicans continued to insist there was no way to know whether Clinton was telling the truth.
And here are two bonus quotes – one from Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and one from her former boss, President Barack Obama:
“I’ve found people have said embarrassing things on email, and I didn’t want to be one of them.”
Bill Clinton attended a Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June and gave a rollicking address, weighing in on not only his wife’s email troubles – saying he doesn’t send emails himself – but also his colorful history with marijuana.
Accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who touted the profitability of marijuana crops, Clinton joked, “Dear Lord, that’s all I need, one more story – If only the marijuana growers would invite me to give a speech.”
“I didn’t even know you could have one of those in your house. I am so far behind. Did you know that? I would have gotten one.”
Obama defeated Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, but he joked about how their relationship has evolved during the annual Gridiron Dinner in March – an event that is, in some ways, a roast.
“I mean, think about how things have changed since 2008,” Obama said. “Back then, I was the young, tech-savvy candidate of the future. Now I’m yesterday’s news and Hillary has got a server in her house. I didn’t even know you could have one of those in your house. I am so far behind. Did you know that? I would have gotten one.”