Clinton campaign shaken, not stirred, by e-mailgate

Clinton campaign shaken, not stirred, by e-mailgate
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York, March 10, 2015. Clinton said on Tuesday she did not email any classified material to anyone while at the State Department.

FORMER secretary of state Hillary Clinton's incipient presidential campaign has hit its first bit of turbulence, with both Republicans and Democrats turning up the heat on her this week for a scandal involving the use of personal e-mail during her term in office.

The full extent of the fallout from the so-called "e-mailgate" won't be known for months to come. But no one, except the most optimistic Republicans, thinks it will remain a factor at a presidential election two years later.

By all accounts, the issue is not one that has seized the average American voter.

If anything, the biggest worry for the Clinton camp may be how it affects election dynamics within her own party.

Already, there is talk of growing unease about Mrs Clinton's silence on the issue.

Over the weekend, Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of the most senior Democrats in the Senate, told a Sunday morning news show that Mrs Clinton needs to come clean.

"Step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is," she said.

"She (Mrs Clinton) is the leading candidate, whether it be Republican or Democrat, for the next president... from this point on, the silence is going to hurt her."

The Wall Street Journal reported that White House aides have been privately expressing frustration over Mrs Clinton's reticence, effectively forcing the White House to defend her.

President Barack Obama has been less than vigorous in his defence, as he stressed that government communication needs to be transparent.

"The fact that she's going to be putting them forward will allow us to make sure that the people have the information they need," he said last Saturday.

Mrs Clinton's team had set up the domain clintonemail.com just over a week before she took office in 2009. She used personal e-mail on that domain name for her entire tenure at the State Department.

Was it wrong? Did she break any laws? Part of the complication is that rules on the use of personal e-mail at the time she was in office left a lot of wiggle room. Today, regulations are tighter.

Government employees are required to use official e-mail except in emergency situations - and in these, all e-mails must still be recorded according to agency practices.

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