GOP fumbles latest attack on Hillary Clinton's email use

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughs before speaking at Syracuse Universitys S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications presentation of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015.


Last Updated May 19, 2015 2:01 PM EDT

WASHINGTON --Republicans are still firing away at Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account as secretary of state, but their latest shot seems to have missed the mark.

On Monday, the New York Times published several emails Clinton sent to an advisor in 2011 and 2012, while she was still secretary of state. Republicans noticed that Clinton's email address in the messages ( was not the same email she told congressional investigators she used during her time at the State Department (

In a press release sent Monday afternoon, the Republican National Committee cried scandal.

"This is the latest example of how Clinton has attempted to mislead the public about her use of secret email for public business and raises further questions about where else she is attempting to hide the truth on this and other matters," the release exclaimed.

But Clinton's presidential campaign had a quick explanation - After Gawker published Clinton's old address when she left the state department, she changed her email address to Any messages printed after that time, even if they were several years old, reflected the new address.

It wasn't a new explanation. They'd made it several times before. Here's what Clinton's personal office said in a Q&A document after Clinton's use of a private email account first became an issue in March:

"At the time the printed copies were provided to the Department last year, because it was the same account, the new email address established after she left office appeared on the printed copies as the sender, and not the address she used as Secretary. In fact, this address on the account did not exist until March 2013. This led to understandable confusion that was cleared up directly with the Committee after its press conference."

And when the GOP chairman of the House Benghazi committee, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, said in March that Clinton had "more than one private email account," here's what Clinton's lawyer told the committee:

"Secretary Clinton used one email account when corresponding with anyone, from Department officials to friends to family. A month after she left the Department, Gawker published her email address and so she changed the address on her account. At the time the emails were provided to the Department last year this new address appeared on the copies as the 'sender,' and not the address she used as Secretary. This address on the account did not exist until March 2103 [sic], after her tenure as Secretary."

Republicans on the panel weren't willing to accept that explanation from Clinton's lawyer on faith, however. They pressed Clinton to hand over her email server to clear up any lingering confusion about whether she used one address or two.

"Without access to the relevant electronic information and stored data on the server -- which was reportedly registered to her home -- there is no way the Committee, or anyone else, can fully explain why the Committee uncovered two email addresses," Jamal Ware, the Benghazi panel's communications director, explained in a press release in March.

The general case Republicans are building against Clinton is that she's being secretive - why did she use a private email account as Secretary of State, sidestepping the federal system that would automatically archive her messages? And why did she and her team get to decide which messages to hand over to archivists after her she left the job?

Clinton has said she used the private account for convenience - the government email wouldn't work on her mobile device, and she didn't want to carry two phones.

She's said she handed over every work-related email sent from her private account. But the problem, Republicans say, is there's no way to verify that. Clinton says she deleted the personal emails, and she won't hand over the server that housed the account to see whether they can be recovered.

Voters are split on the matter, according to a CBS News poll taken in March - 62 percent said it wasn't appropriate for Clinton to use a private server, and 38 percent said she did it to keep some work-related information from becoming public. But 49 percent believed Clinton's explanation that she used a private account because it was convenient.

A House Select Committee is probing the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, and investigators have asked the State Department to submit copies of all of the Benghazi-emails Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state. On Monday, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Vice News' Jason Leopold, the State Department said it "plans to produce releasable portions of Secretary Clinton's January 15, 2016." Clinton has agreed to testify before the committee, but Republicans say they need a full account of her emails before that can happen.

CBS News' Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.