(CNSNews.com) - Hours before the MSNBC-hosted debate on Thursday, NBC News gave Hillary Clinton a good way to answer the question that NBC's Chuck Todd would ask her that very night:
"State Department officials have determined that classified information was sent to the personal email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice," NBC News reported Thursday morning.
At the debate Thursday night, NBC's Chuck Todd asked Hillary, "[C]an you reassure these Democrats that somehow the email issue isn't going to blow up your candidacy if you're the nominee?"
"Absolutely I can," Clinton responded. "You know, before it was emails, it was Benghazi, and the Republicans were stirring up so much controversy about that. And I testified for 11 hours, answered their questions. They basically said yeah, didn't get her. We tried. That was all a political ploy.
"Now, we had a development in the email matter today, when it came out that Secretary Powell and close aides to Former Secretary Rice used private e-mail accounts. and now you have these people in the government who are doing the same thing to Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice's aide they've been doing to me, which is that I never sent or received any classified material. They are retroactively classifying it.
"I agree completely with Secretary Powell, who said today this is an absurdity. And so I think the American people will know it's an absurdity. I have absolutely no concerns about it whatsoever."
(The audience applauded.)
Todd followed up: "All right, Madam Secretary, there is an open -- there is an open FBI investigation into this matter about how you may have handled classified material. Are you 100 percent confident that nothing is going to come of this FBI investigation?"
"I am 100 percent confident," Clinton said. "This is a security review that was requested. It is being carried out. It will be resolved. But I have to add if there's going to be a security review about me, there's going to have to be security reviews about a lot of other people, including Republican office holders, because we've got this absurd situation of retroactive classifications.
"Honest to goodness, this is -- this just beggars the imagination. So I have absolutely no concerns about it, but we've got to get to the bottom of what's really going on here, and I hope that will happen."
Todd then asked Democrat Bernie Sanders what he thinks about Hillary's email controversy:
"I am feeling exactly the way I felt at the first debate. There's a process under way. I will not politicize it. (He was applauded.)
"And by the way -- and by the way, if I may, the secretary probably doesn't know that there's not a day that goes by when I am not asked to attack her on that issue, and I have refrained from doing that and I will continue to refrain from doing that."
NBC News reported on Thursday that none of the two messages sent to Colin Powell's personal email account, and none of the ten sent to the personal accounts of Rice's senior aides, were marked classified at the time.
"They were unclassified at the time, and they are, in my judgment, still unclassified," Powell told NBC. Rice did not comment.
Neither Powell nor Rice, as secretaries of state, used email to the extent that Hillary Clinton did. Powell said the State Department's email system was inadequate when he served there.