Obama: I First Learned About Clinton’s Email Address ‘Through News Reports’

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama said he first found out through the news about Hillary Clinton’s private email address she used for government business while secretary of state.

“The same time everybody else learned it through news reports,” Obama told CBS News.

The president said he’s glad his former secretary of state instructed her emails be disclosed to the public.

“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,” he told CBS News. “I’m glad that Hillary’s instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed.”

Despite the controversy, Obama defended Clinton.

“Let me just say that Hillary Clinton is and has been an outstanding public servant,” Obama told CBS News. “She was a great secretary of state for me.”

Sen. Dianne Feinsten, D-Calif., urged Clinton to fully explain her actions.

The former first lady and New York senator “needs to step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is,” Feinstein said. “From this point on, the silence is going to hurt her.”

Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, avoided the controversy Sunday morning.

Asked whether his wife was treated fairly, Bill Clinton replied, “I’m not the one to judge that. I have an opinion, but I have a bias.”

“I shouldn’t be making news on this,” he said, in remarks reported on CNN.com.

Hillary Clinton has been criticized for her use of the private email account and whether she complied with federal rules requiring officials to retain their communications. Clinton says that she’s turned over all relevant emails — totaling 55,000 pages — to the State Department for review.

Last week, the House committee investigating the Benghazi, Libya, attacks, issued subpoenas for Clinton’s emails, and the chairman said Sunday, “We’re not entitled to everything. I don’t want everything. I just want everything related to Libya and Benghazi.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said “there are gaps of months and months and months” in the emails the committee had previously received. “It’s not up to Secretary Clinton to decide what’s a public record and what’s not.”

Clinton is considered the front-runner for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, but hasn’t entered the race yet. So far, a tweet has been her only comment on the controversy.

“I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible,” she tweeted last week.

[tweet https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/573340998287413248 width=’330′]

She did not address the issue Saturday night during an event in Coral Gables, Florida, for the Clinton Global Initiative University.

One of Clinton’s predecessors, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said Sunday he has retained none of the emails sent from his personal email account during his tenure at the department in the first George W. Bush administration.

“I don’t have any to turn over,” he said on Sunday. “I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off.”

Powell added: “A lot of the emails that came out of my personal account went into the State Department system. They were addressed to State Department employees and the State.gov domain. But I don’t know if the servers (for) the State Department captured those or not.”

Powell said all the emails from his account were unclassified and most were “pretty benign, so I’m not terribly concerned even if they were able to recover them.”

Feinstein appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gowdy was on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Powell spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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