Email, Foundation Scandals Overshadow Clinton Event on Women's Equality

The 2016 contender didn't address the controversy in her remarks, but she will soon.

NEW YORK—Hillary Clinton will not be taken off message. At least, not yet.

Despite dual scandals over the Clinton Foundation's foreign donors and Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email address while serving as secretary of State, Clinton kept her focus Monday in a speech for her "No Ceilings" project, limiting her remarks to the launch of the long-awaited report on women's equality.

But her message was swallowed almost immediately by news, first reported by Politico, that Clinton would likely address the email controversy more fully in days to come—possibly via press conference.

At Monday's event, however, Clinton stuck to a theme that has been central to her pre-campaign messaging: "There has never been a better time in history to be born female," Clinton said, lauding the progress that has been made since her famous "Women's Rights are Human Rights" speech at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. But she noted that, in many respects, women still have a long way to go before reaching true equality with men across the globe.

Clinton appeared onstage with her daughter, Chelsea, at the start of the "No Ceilings" launch, speaking for a few minutes about the importance of equality and progress for women internationally. During the more than two-hour event, she also served as moderator for several short panels, which were largely brief, scripted speeches. And afterward, Clinton waved to the crowd as she walked to her car without commenting to reporters or responding to questions.

The story about Clinton's email address and private server, which first broke in The New York Times last week, has dominated news coverage of the former first lady—and disrupted the carefully planned series of women-focused events Clinton had scheduled for the final weeks before her expected April campaign launch. The release of the "No Ceilings" report—which was co-sponsored by the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—had been planned for months.

If Clinton does directly address the controversy soon, it will follow calls from fellow Democrats for Clinton to offer further explanation. "I think that she needs to step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday, said she expects Clinton will elaborate more in the next few days. "I think that you're going to hear something from Secretary Clinton this week," the Democrat said. "I'm fairly certain it's going to be soon."

Thus far, Clinton's only public comments on the controversy came in the form of a late-night tweet last week. "I want the public to see my email," she tweeted. "I asked State to release them."

This is the third speech Clinton has given since the Times story first broke—and her third without commenting on it. She spoke at the 30th-anniversary gala for the Democratic women's group EMILY's List last Tuesday, giving a campaign-style speech without addressing the controversy; she also spoke to students at the Clinton Global Initiative's CGI U in Miami on Saturday night.

The rollout of the "No Ceilings" report will continue Tuesday with a speech at the United Nations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing conference and Clinton's speech there.