Robert Gibbs: I Honestly Can't Explain Hillary's Personal Email, 'It's Highly Unusual'

March 3, 2015

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has no explanation for why Hillary Clinton used a personal email account to conduct official government business, possibly breaking federal rules.

"Can you give me one good reason why she might have done that?" host Matt Lauer asked.

"Honestly I can't, Matt. It is highly unusual," Gibbs said.

The criticism of the Democrats' frontrunner for president in 2016 coming from Obama's first press secretary and close adviser is very surprising.

The Federal Records Act requires preservation of all official government communication. The use of official accounts guarantees that, but Clinton never had an official government email address during her four years at the State Department. Without keeping record of her emails, it is safe to assume Clinton violated this act.

"It provides a layup, doesn’t it, Robert, for her critics who say this is all about a lack of transparency as she prepares for a run in 2016?" Lauer said.

Government officials, including many who worked with or for Clinton, raised their eyebrows at the use of a private account.

"It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario short of nuclear winter where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records, said.

The New York Times report that broke the story is the latest in a string of startling revelations that has brought Clinton under fire from all sides. The Clinton Foundation accepting major donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of State, her foundation taking huge sums of money from corporations that were also lobbying her at the same time, and the use of a private email account add to growing concerns that Clinton blurred ethical lines in every step of her career.

"This is another one of those things that she’s going to have to explain," Gibbs said.