Hillary Clinton tweets on controversy, says she asked State Dept to release her e-mails

Democrat Hillary Clinton broke her silence over a budding controversy involving her e-mails when she was secretary of state, saying she wanted the US State Department to release them swiftly. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Democrat Hillary Clinton broke her silence over a budding controversy involving her e-mails when she was secretary of state, saying she wanted the US State Department to release them swiftly. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hillary Clinton is trying to head off a growing dispute about her use of private e-mail while serving as US secretary of state, insisting she has nothing to hide.

On Wednesday, three days after the news broke, Clinton broke her silence on the issue to ask the State Department to release a trove of mails dealing with her official duties.

The presumed front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination has come under attack for keeping official correspondence on a private email server in one of her homes.

Her camp insists this was not a breach of federal regulations, but it has led to suspicions that she was seeking to prevent the mails from being made public.

It is also not clear whether the server and the classified diplomatic correspondence it held was properly secured against cyberattack by hackers or foreign intelligence agencies.

“I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them,” Clinton tweeted.

The mails in question had already been handed over to the government to form an official record after Clinton had left office, and it is not clear whether they represent a complete set.

But – with Republican lawmakers planning to issue a subpoena to recover the records – the State Department said officials had been assured they have all relevant material.

“Her team has said that this is the extent of the records that she has,” deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Speaking in Riyadh, Clinton’s successor Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the department “has had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s record, including e-mails.”

“We are now in the process of reviewing those for public release as we do with any document, and we will undertake this task as rapidly as possible,” he said.

Earlier Wednesday, the congressional committee investigating the 2009 attack on the US mission in Benghazi issued subpoenas “for all communications of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton related to Libya.”

Clinton had no federal government e-mail address during her four years at State, and aides did not seek to preserve her e-mails on department servers at the time, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story.

The emerging scandal puts Clinton in an awkward bind, with Republicans rushing to denounce the actions and Democrats hesitant about how to defend the woman seen as their party’s leading White House hope.

Many Democratic lawmakers declined to comment about what some critics have already begun to call “emailgate.”

'ETHICAL PROBLEM'

Until now Clinton had remained publicly silent on the issue.

But several of her Republican potential 2016 rivals have pounced, including Jeb Bush who tweeted that “unclassified Hillary Clinton e-mails should be released.”

Former Texas governor Rick Perry, who has made no secret of his interest in a presidential bid, suggested the latest episode was part of a trend toward stonewalling.

“There’s a pattern here of non-transparency,” Perry told Fox News.

“It’s an ethical problem that she’s going to have to address.”

But Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Benghazi panel’s ranking Democrat, complained that Republicans were mounting a “fishing expedition” against the former first lady.

The scandal is only the latest episode that could come back to haunt her during her all-but-certain presidential run.

Last month, it was revealed that her family’s Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments.

Her coziness with Wall Street is also a potential impediment for progressive voters.

And the Benghazi attacks themselves remain a rallying cry for conservatives who say Clinton is unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Despite lashing out at the subpoena against Clinton, Cummings insisted he was willing to see where the chips fall with the investigation.

“I’m not trying to defend Hillary Clinton,” he said. “I’m trying, as I said from the very beginning, to defend the truth – whatever the truth is.”