If Hillary Clinton Broke State Department Email Rules, We'll Never Know — And That Hurts Her

In the face of a bombardment of questions from reporters during a Tuesday press event at the United Nations, Hillary Clinton maintained her cool and defended her decision to use a personal email account during her tenure as secretary of state. “I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by,” Clinton told reporters, and vowed that she had conducted her emailing within the State Department’s rules.

Even though Clinton defended her email practices, she admitted that, if she could go back and do it again, she would do things differently.

Looking back, it would have been better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone. Using one device would be simpler, but obviously it hasn't worked out this way.

Clinton’s current situation couldn’t be further from simple — and Tuesday’s press event likely won’t come close to putting the issue to bed. That’s because, as The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin points out, Clinton’s speech left a lot up to trust. Even though Clinton will release her emails to the public and she did willingly turn over 55,000 pages of documents to the state, the decision of which emails stayed and which were deleted was left to Clinton’s discretion.

At the press conference, Clinton said she chose not to keep emails pertaining to personal matters such as her daughter’s wedding correspondences, notes to friends and family, and messages about her mother’s funeral arrangements. “No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” she told the roomful of reporters.

And while most can probably agree that the world doesn’t deserve access to Clinton’s personal life, her deletion of emails immediately raised the eyebrows of her critics and opponents. The Washington Post reports that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the head of the Benghazi Committee, said in a statement in response to Clinton’s press conference:

Without access to Secretary Clinton’s personal server, there is no way for the State Department to know it has acquired all documents that should be made public, and given State’s delay in disclosing the fact Secretary Clinton exclusively used personal email to conduct State business, there is no way to accept State’s or Secretary Clinton’s certification she has turned over all documents that rightfully belong to the American people.

Gowdy makes a fair point about the implications of trust in this particular fiasco. Because emails were deleted from Clinton’s personal account, there is no hard evidence to back up either Clinton’s claims, or Gowdy’s. Clinton may very well have told the complete truth at Tuesday's presser, but without the log of emails to refer back to that a state account would have provided, the scenario becomes a classic example of a he said, she said.

Without hard evidence, all that can be done is more or less what Hillary did at Tuesday's press event: ask for that lost trust back. But with Republicans looking on gleefully, it's going to take more than one brief press conference for that to happen.