Obama Administration Tries to Stay Out of Clinton Email Scandal

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Clinton, sending "Texts from Hillary."Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein became the first top Democrat to publicly call on Hillary Clinton to release more information about her exclusive use of a personal email address when she was secretary of State. “I think she needs to step up, and come out, and state exactly what the situation is,” Feinstein said on Meet the Press. “From this point on, the silence is going to hurt her.”

The Clintons have added little to Hillary’s lone tweet on the issue (the former president said on Sunday, “I shouldn’t be making news on this,” when asked about the scandal), which means the task of explaining the former secretary of State’s breach of protocol has mostly fallen on the Obama administration.

During an interview with CBS News’s Bill Plante following his appearance in Selma, Alabama, on Saturday, President Obama said he only learned that Clinton used a private email address from news reports last week. “The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency, which is why my emails—the BlackBerry I carry around—all those records are available and archived,” Obama said. Though, when asked if he was “disappointed” to learn that his secretary of State wasn’t doing the same with her emails, the president replied, “Let me just say that Hillary Clinton is and has been an outstanding public servant. She was a great secretary of state for me.”

Obama said he’s “glad” that Clinton has asked that the emails be made public, and the State Department said last week that it will review and publicly release the emails “as quickly as possible.” But White House officials don’t seem happy that Clinton is calling on current department officials to help her resolve the issue. “If they screwed up on the emails, if we find out they skipped over her emails … then that will be a problem for them, it’ll be a scandal. But it’s not one that we’ll own,” a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Clinton did find a way to do an inconspicuous bit of damage control on Sunday. In honor of International Women’s Day, Clinton switched her profile photo to promote No Ceilings, a gender-equality initiative backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The infamous “Text from Hillary” photo is still her Twitter banner image, but in the future the meme won’t appear next to any missives about her questionable email habits.