"I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered," Obama said. "We don't get an impression that here there was purposely efforts to hide something or to squirrel away information."
Some of Clinton’s critics have accused the Obama administration of holding her to a double standard, saying it has for years pursued aggressive prosecution of other government staffers and officials caught with classified materials on their private computers.
"As a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data," Obama said, indirectly chiding Clinton for her unusual arrangement.
"She made a mistake. She has acknowledged it," Obama said. "And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly."
Clinton apologized for the controversy over her email practices in an interview with ABC News last month.
Obama, who has previously acknowledged emailing with his former secretary of state at her private email address, says he first learned of the private, unsecured server arrangement through news reports after she left office.
The issue has become a major distraction for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and a flashpoint with Republicans.
Seven in 10 registered voters, in a new New York Times/CBS News poll, say it was not appropriate for Clinton to use a private server as Secretary of State.
"This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate but the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season," Obama told CBS.