Hillary Clinton Used Private Email at State Dept.; No Full Record of Her Emails Remains

Barbara Boland | March 3, 2015
Font Size

Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to conduct government business, and her aides did not preserve those emails as required by the Federal Records Act, a House committee investigating the Benghazi consulate attack uncovered and The New York Times first reported.

Throughout her entire four-year stint at the State Department, Clinton did not have a government email address.

From The New York Times:

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Federal law requires that letters and emails written or received by federal officials must be preserved so that congressional committees and media may access them. (Redactions are made for information that is classified.) The law also ensures transparency: officials may not legally scrub their record after a public failure.

Hillary Clinton’s position as Secretary State meant that her emails were to be preserved, and the fact that this did not take place represents “a serious breach” said National Archives and Records Administration officials to the New York Times:

“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business,” said Mr. Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.

No one knows how many emails Clinton had in her account or how her advisers decided which emails to turn over to the State Department.

It is also unclear whether her private email account was encrypted, which raises security concerns.

Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, the spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, declined to tell the New York Times why Clinton used her person email account for State Department business.

This discovery has raised questions about transparency and “echoes longstanding criticisms” directed at the Clintons, says the New York Times.