Hillary Clinton's campaign sounded the alarm over President Obama's statement to the press in March 2015 that he learned about Clinton's private email use from news reports, emails published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday show.
Josh Schwerin, a campaign spokesman, sent an email to high-level staffers informing them of Obama's comments just a few days after the New York Times exposed Clinton's private email use for the first time.
"POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it in the news," Schwerin wrote, using Clinton's initials.
Cheryl Mills, a board member at the Clinton Foundation, worried about the implications of Obama's claim in a subsequent email to John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chair.
"[W]e need to clean this up - he has emails from her - they do not say state.gov," Mills said.
FBI agents revealed in notes from their closed investigative file that Obama communicated with Clinton on her private server using a pseudonym.
Obama is one of many administration officials who professed to know nothing of Clinton's server before document releases proved they had emailed the former secretary on her personal address. In response, most have admitted they sent messages to Clinton's private account but argued they had no way of knowing she relied exclusively on that address to conduct all her work-related affairs.
Mills did not make clear the precise concerns raised by Obama's comments in her email to Podesta.
But the president's unequivocal denial of knowing about the server could have left him open to criticism if the public later learned he emailed Clinton at her private address. His initial comments could have left voters with the impression that officials up to and including the president were complicit in a cover-up of the server.
In the weeks after Mills expressed her desire to "clean" up Obama's statement, the White House clarified that Obama meant he was not aware of the scope of Clinton's private email use.
The email was one of more than 31,000 released to date by WikiLeaks after an unidentified hacker obtained the emails from Podesta's inbox. U.S. intelligence agencies have indicated the hacker likely has ties to Russia.