Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman scrambled over the holiday weekend to reassure jumpy supporters, in the wake of an inspector general report that took the Democratic presidential front-runner to task over her personal email use while secretary of state.
In a memo sent Saturday, and obtained by Fox News, campaign chairman John Podesta acknowledged Clinton has called her use of a personal email server while secretary of state “a mistake.”
But he put a positive spin on the IG report, saying it “gets us one step closer to resolving this.”
“Since last year, Secretary Clinton has said her use of a personal email server was a mistake. And while there have been ongoing reviews of this matter, the completion of the Inspector General’s examination gets us one step closer to resolving this,” Podesta said.
He also repeated campaign claims that Clinton opted to use a personal server for convenience and was only doing what she thought her predecessors did — though the IG report challenged this assessment.
“What she thought would be a convenient way to communicate with family, friends and colleagues – by using one email account for both her work related and personal emails – has turned out to be anything but convenient. If she could go back, she’d do it differently,” Podesta’s memo read. “… She believed she was following the practices of other Secretaries and senior officials.”
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The IG report released last week found Clinton did not seek permission to use her personal account for official business as secretary of state — and would not have been approved to do so had she asked.
The day the IG report was issued, Clinton said in an interview that her use of personal email was consistent with her predecessors.
But the report stated that Condoleezza Rice did not use personal email for government business. It said Colin Powell used personal email to connect with people outside the department — but he did not have a private server.
Howard Krongard, a George W. Bush administration appointee who served as the State Department inspector general from April 2005 to January 2008, also told Fox News that Rice did not use a personal server.
“I certainly never either sent an email to one or received an email from one,” said Krongard.
He added, “I would have been stunned had I been asked to send an email to her at a personal server, private address. I would have declined to do so on security grounds and if she had sent one to me, I probably would have started an investigation.”
The IG report also found that repeated warnings about cybersecurity were ignored and that staffers who expressed their concerns were told “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”
Podesta, though, downplayed the criticisms in the May 25 report, saying the report confirms her email use was known by many department officials, and that there was no evidence of a breach of the server by hackers.
However, Podesta does not include the IG’s finding that the server was attacked by hackers, though there was no evidence of a successful breach.
“Had Secretary Clinton known of any concerns about her email setup at the time, she would have taken steps to address them,” Podesta said in the memo.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.