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Clinton hindsight: I should have used gov't email

Hillary Clinton sent work emails on a personal account during her tenure as secretary of state for convenience, but in hindsight would have sent messages on a separate government device, she said on Tuesday.

"Looking back, it would have been probably smarter to have used two devices but I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in possession of the State Department," Clinton said during a news conference after a speech at the United Nations.

She continued: "I did it for convenience, but now looking back I think it might have been smarter to have two devices from the very beginning."

The potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate added that most of her emails went to government employees and were kept in government logs after she sent them. Clinton's work-related emails were turned over to the State Department, while personal messages were kept private, she said.

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Clinton for the first time addressed her State Department email practices after a week of scrutiny and questions. She ignored the issue at a forum Monday while fellow Democrats urged her to speak out—and predicted she would—about her decision to conduct business in a private email account while secretary of state. Republicans are ramping up their attention to the issue.

She is under scrutiny over whether she fully complied with federal laws requiring government officials to preserve written communications involving official business. She used her own email server, traced to her home in Chappaqua, New York, giving herself more control over her email.

Clinton said she did not delete any work-related emails before giving them to officials. She said she was "very glad" that the State Department plans to post messages on its website.

"Those will be out in the public domain and people will be able to judge for themselves," Clinton said.

She added that her personal email system was not breached and said she "fully complied" with every correspondence rule. She stressed that she never sent "classified material" on her personal account.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference at the United Nations in New York March 10, 2015.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference at the United Nations in New York March 10, 2015.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama indeed knew she was using a nongovernment account during her tenure. Obama had indicated earlier that he only learned of that from recent news reports.

Earnest said the president actually learned from those news reports of Clinton's privately run email server, but was familiar with her private account earlier because the two had exchanged emails when she was in office. Obama did not know at the time that she was using private email exclusively, Earnest said.

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The Republican National Committee has kept pressure on Clinton, noting a State Department policy requiring all outgoing employees to turn over job-related materials before leaving. The policy requires such employees to sign a "separation statement" declaring they had "surrendered to responsible officials all unclassified documents" related to official business during their employment.

Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement the "fact that Hillary Clinton did not abide by the same rules her State Department employees had to comply with is just the latest example of how the Clintons think the rules don't apply to them." Clinton left the State Department in early 2013. It was not immediately clear if Clinton signed the agreement but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the secretary of state is supposed to follow such department policies.

Last week, Clinton said in a Twitter message that she wanted her emails released by the State Department as soon as possible. But did not address why she does not put them out herself immediately. The State Department is reviewing 55,000 pages of emails that she has turned over and Republicans in Congress have said they plan to review her email practices.

Clinton is approaching a public decision on a 2016 presidential campaign and remains the leading prospect for the Democratic nomination if she seeks the White House again.

—CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld and the Associated Press contributed to this report.