The White House on Thursday tried to brush aside revelations over the last 48 hours that President Obama's top aides, including David Axelrod, communicated with Hillary Clinton via her private email address while she was secretary of state.

Eric Schultz, the president's deputy press secretary, said White House officials had previously said that it was likely that top White House aides had emailed Clinton on her private email account during her tenure at the State Department.

"We were very clear that it would not be surprising if White House officials had emailed the secretary of state in real time," Schultz told reporters traveling on Air Force One with Obama to Wisconsin on Thursday. He also said the federal government's rules deal with retaining documents, and stressed that Clinton took the necessary steps to hold onto her emails.

The White House, however, hasn't been exactly forthcoming about whether Obama's top aides knew that she was using a private email account from a private server exclusively during her State Department tenure.

When the story about Clinton's use of a personal email account to conduct official business first broke back in March, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the White House is not responsible for ensuring that cabinet officials use government email accounts for official business.

Earnest, when asked whether top administration officials are using official email to conduct business, told reporters at the time that they would have to check with each of the cabinet agencies because they are the ones responsible for maintaining their own records and email policy.

"You will need to check with each of the cabinet agencies," Earnest said. "You'll have to ask the individual agencies themselves because they are responsible for maintaining the records and emails."

Axelrod, a former top White House adviser, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in June that he was unaware that Clinton used an authorized private server.

"I was there, I was the senior adviser. I didn't know that," he said.

Had he known, he would have asked some questions, he argued at the time. "I might have asked a few questions about the [private server]," he said.

Email correspondence from 2009 released by the State Department this week shows that Axelrod contacted her at least once with a "get better" note using one of her private email addresses after she injured her elbow in a fall in the State Department parking lot.

But in another interview with MSNBC Thursday, the former Obama advisor and campaign strategist tried to clarify his previous comments, saying he knew that Clinton had a personal email account but didn't know she had a private dedicated server.

Then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel also asked Clinton's State Department staff for her email address, and Clinton told her aide to give it to him, according to the emails released by the State Department earlier this week.