Hillary Clinton Inducted Into Irish America Hall of Fame
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on stage during a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City.  Yana Paskova—Getty Images

Questions Remain After Clinton Camp Discloses Reading Each Email

Updated: Jul 05, 2016 3:09 PM ET | Originally published: Mar 18, 2015

A week after trying to move beyond her email controversy, Hillary Clinton is still working to clarify how she cleared her inbox. Her staff now says lawyers read through every email she sent and received as Secretary of State before deeming more than half of them to be personal records and discarding them.

The new assertion expands on Clinton’s initial account of how her attorneys determined which emails to turn over in response to a State Department records request. But as two Republican-controlled House committees investigate her email-retention practices, key questions about the process remain.

As Secretary of State, Clinton had a responsibility to turn over all emails from her home computer server that qualify as federal records, even if they contained only a line or two of official business. Intentionally destroying such records can be prosecuted as a crime, though Clinton says her attorneys were careful to follow the law.

In a fact sheet released after Clinton’s March 10 press conference at the U.N., her office provided a detailed description of the “multistep” sorting process her attorneys used to separate work-related documents from personal correspondence. The lawyers started with a search for all emails sent and received during Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom, then searched for documents sent to and from government email accounts, scanned for the first and last names of more than 100 specific people, reviewed those addresses to check for common misspellings and “lastly” looked for possible work-related keywords like Benghazi.

These steps produced over 30,400 emails, Clinton’s office said. A total of 30,490 were handed over to the State Department. The fact sheet made no mention of anyone reading the emails, raising questions about whether relevant documents slipped through the cracks.

Several days after the press conference, Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill told TIME that her lawyers used keywords and other filters in addition to reading each document individually, not in lieu of that process. “Every one of the more than 60,000 emails were read,” Merrill said. “We apologize if the fact sheet wasn’t clear enough on this point.” A person familiar with the effort said Clinton’s attorneys read every line of the email cache.

But Clinton’s team has still not explained some details of the email review, including how the two methods complemented each other, when the reading began and whether it resulted in any additional documents being handed over to the State Department.

The answers to those questions could still matter for Clinton, who is preparing to launch her all-but-certain presidential campaign in the coming weeks. House Speaker John Boehner called on Clinton to turn over her personal server to a “neutral third party” even though Clinton has said her 31,830 personal records have already been discarded. “I think this is the fairest way,” Boehner told reporters on March 17, “to make sure that we have all the documents that belong to the public, and ultimately all of the facts.”

UPDATE: On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced that an investigation into Clinton's email servers had relied on header information and search terms to identify work related emails. "The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails," he said.

See the 2016 Candidates Looking Very Presidential

Values Voters Summit
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014.Mark Peterson—Redux
Values Voters Summit
USA - Hillary Clinton speaks at Iowa Senator Tom Harken'a annual Steak Fry
Jeb Bush
Sen. Bernie Sanders Launches Presidential Bid In Vermont
Political Theatre
Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina listens to her introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.
Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rick Perry
Bobby Jindal
Martin O'Malley
Marco Rubio
Ben Carson
Barack Obama, Jim Webb
John Kasich, Election
Conservative Political Action Conference
Scott Walker
Mike Huckabee
Former Rhode Island Governor Chafee poses for a selfie with a student after announcing he will seek the Democratic nomination to be U.S. president during an address to the GMU School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington
FILE: Lindsey Graham To Run For President
Former New York governor George Pataki listens to a question at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, in this April 17, 2015 file photo. Pataki on May 28, 2015 entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 20
... VIEW MORE

Mark Peterson—Redux
1 of 20
newsletter
The Brief NewsletterSign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.