In going through the e-mails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal that were not in any way related to my work. I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear. For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related. I am very confident of the process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced.
Later still, she added, "I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department."
And she said this:
... my direction to conduct the thorough investigation was to err on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work related. That doesn’t mean they will be by the State Department once the State Department goes through them, but out of an abundance of caution and care, you know, we wanted to send that message unequivocally. That is the responsibility of the individual and I have fulfilled that responsibility, and I have no doubt that we have done exactly what we should have done. When the search was conducted, we were asking that any email be identified and preserved that could potentially be federal records, and that’s exactly what we did ... I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters. And I feel that I’ve taken unprecedented steps to provide these work-related emails.
To review, she asserted 1) a thorough investigation that included "going through" roughly 60,000 emails; 2) a standard of erring on the side of disclosing "anything" that could "possibly" be viewed as work related; 3) a "thorough" process robust enough to warrant "absolute confidence" in its results; 4) a process to turn over emails that could plausibly be characterized as "unprecedented."
Nearly everyone listening to these assurances came away with the impression that a person or team of people went through those 60,000+ emails and sorted them into two categories: work or personal. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart mocked the notion that sorting through tens of thousands of emails was more "convenient" than maintaining both work and personal email accounts. Most criticism of the approach focused on the fact that Hillary Clinton confidantes, rather than neutral arbiters, were making the judgment calls about these 60,000+ emails.
But it turns out that no one was "going through" each email to sort work from personal correspondence or to error on the side of disclosure when the line was blurry.
According to David Von Drehle of Time, the process used was actually as follows:
She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department—spurred by the congressional investigation—asked her to do so.
And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache—31,830 emails—did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be “private, personal records.”
The idea that such a process could produce "absolute confidence" that all public records were identified is as curious as the notion that Bill Clinton never inhaled.