TwentySixteen

How Hillary Clinton Got to “I’m Sorry”

The presidential front-runner has shifted her answer on her personal email account just in the last week.

David Muir conducts a one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton, September 8, 2015.
Ida Mae Astute AFP/Getty
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Emily Schultheis
Sept. 8, 2015, 6:51 p.m.

It took three different interviews in four days to get her there, but on Tuesday Hillary Clinton apologized for using a private email address during her tenure as secretary of State.

“That was a mistake; I’m sorry about that,” Clinton told ABC News’s David Muir in an interview that aired Tuesday evening when he asked whether polling on her trustworthiness shows that the email scandal “didn’t sit well with the American people.” “I take responsibility,” she continued.

When Muir followed up, asking if she would admit she made a mistake, Clinton replied: “I did, I did.”

Later Tuesday night, Clinton took to Facebook to explain the email situation to her supporters, saying the private account was “a mistake”—though she doubled down on her initial explanation, that her actions were “aboveboard” and “allowed” under State Department rules.

“Yes, I should have used two email addresses, one for personal matters and one for my work at the State Department,” she wrote. “Not doing so was a mistake. I’m sorry about it, and I take full responsibility.”

“I know this is a complex story. I could have—and should have—done a better job answering questions earlier,” she continued, directing supporters to a section of her website addressing the email issue. “I’m grateful for your support, and I’m not taking anything for granted.”

Clinton’s comments Tuesday were different than the responses she gave in two other recent sit-down interviews, one with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and another with the Associated Press. To Mitchell, who asked twice whether Clinton was sorry, she said not that she was sorry she used a private email address—but that she was “sorry that this has been confusing to people.” (Clinton did touch on this topic in her ABC interview as well, telling Muir she is “sorry that it has, you know, raised all of these questions.”)

She told the AP Monday that she doesn’t need to apologize because “what I did was allowed,” a line she has used repeatedly since the news of her private email server first broke in March. The closest she has come in the past to apologizing is saying that she wishes she’d made a different choice at the time.

Clinton’s new response to the question comes as her Democratic allies criticize the way the campaign has handled its response to the email situation—and the way Clinton herself has made light of the situation in a series of campaign-trail jokes. In August, she told a crowd in Iowa that she liked Snapchat because “those messages disappear all by themselves.” And at a Las Vegas press conference the following week, asked repeatedly whether she had wiped her email server, Clinton responded sarcastically with, “What, like with a cloth or something?”

In the ABC interview, Clinton also said she was confident her campaign could survive the bad headlines about her email server.

“Of course I can—I, as you might guess, have been around a while, and there have been lots of, you know, attacks and counterattacks and questions raised,” she said. “And I can survive it, because I think I’m running to be president to do what the country needs done. And I believe the American people will respond to that.”

This story has been updated with Clinton’s Facebook post Tuesday night.

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