IRBIL, Iraq — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged Thursday he sometimes used a personal, unsecured email account to conduct official business after he took office in February, a practice he called "entirely my mistake."
His admission followed a New York Times report revealing that he continued the practice even after Hillary Clinton triggered a wave of criticism in March for using a private email account to conduct government business while she was secretary of state.
Presidential chief of staff Denis McDonough found out in May about Carter's emailing and, through White House counsel, expressed concern to Pentagon lawyers, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Carter nonetheless persisted, telling reporters Thursday that he ended the practice "a few months ago."
Carter said he did not use his phone for classified information. The Defense Department said all his messages, which appeared to be largely about meetings and speeches, were backed up for record keeping on the department's email system.
Carter did not respond directly when asked by a reporter whether he had stopped using his personal account only after the New York Times filed a Freedom of Information request in September for some of his emails. He repeated that he had stopped a few months ago. "And basically, what that means is I was doing it for longer than I should have."