Following her CNN interview, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was roundly criticized for failing to tell the truth about her exclusive use of a personal email address and private server for official government business, and her decision to delete tens of thousands of emails.
In addition to her false claim that she was “never” subpoenaed, she also insisted that “Everything that I did was permitted. There was no law, there was no regulation, there was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate.” The Washington Post Fact Checker awarded her three Pinocchios for her dishonesty, and pointed out that “she appears to have not complied with the requirement to turn over her business-related e-mails before she left government service.”
Of course, when Secretary Clinton claims that everything she did was permitted, not only is she effectively blaming President Obama for allowing official government records to disappear, she is also contradicting the policies of her own State Department.
- An order sent from Clinton’s office to all State Department employees on June 28, 2011, included this instruction: “Avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts.”
- In June 2012, the American ambassador to Kenya resigned days before an internal audit was released detailing his failure to “accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions,” including those related to “the nonuse of commercial email for official government business, including Sensitive But Unclassified information.”
This was not a small aspect of the report. It continued:
[H]is refusal to accept fully the Department’s decisions on … the nonuse of commercial email for official government business, except in emergencies, is widely known and a source of confusion and discouragement within the embassy community. …
He has willfully disregarded Department regulations on the use of commercial email for official government business, including a front channel instruction from the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security against such practice, which he asserted to the OIG team that he had not seen. …
He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. … The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards. …
The Ambassador uses a government-owned laptop that is not physically or electronically connected to the Department’s OpenNet network. Authorized Department OpenNet email systems are available on the Ambassador’s office desktop. According to 12 FAM 544.3 and 11 State 73417 (from the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security to the Ambassador), it is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized information system, which has the proper level of security controls. The use of unauthorized information systems increases the risk for data loss, phishing, and spoofing of email accounts, as well as inadequate protections for personally identifiable information. The use of unauthorized information systems can also result in the loss of official public records as these systems do not have approved record preservation or backup functions. Conducting official business on non-Department automated information systems must be limited to only maintaining communications during emergencies.
Recommendation 57: Embassy Nairobi should cease using commercial email to process Department information and use authorized Department automated information systems for conducting official business.
Even if we assume that President Obama explicitly granted permission to his Secretary of State to only use a personal email address for her work – he says he didn't, and that he learned of her private server “through news reports” – under a 2009 federal regulation, Clinton was obligated to “ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems [not operated by the agency] are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.” She did not, but claims that “When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system.”
This is false as well. We know that at least four of her key aides (Philippe Reines, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jake Sullivan) also used private email addresses. Furthermore, an inspector general found that, under Clinton, the State Department failed to preserve the vast majority of employee emails for the public record “as required by the government.”
“Moreover,” noted the Washington Examiner, “since 2005, the State Department's Foreign Affairs manual forbids the transmission of ‘sensitive but classified’ agency information over private emails. Clinton evidently violated this rule as well, because some of the material she handed over to State had to be redacted before the public could see it.” That's the case with more than two dozen emails and counting.
Amid all of these untruths, a key question remains: “When did Hillary Clinton wipe her email clean?”
As Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told CNN, “There are at least three separate legal obligations that should have informed and instructed her not to delete emails or wipe her server clean” – including congressional requests for her email dating back to 2012.