State Dept. Audit: Clinton Violated Federal Email Server Law
A new investigation has found that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke federal record-keeping law during her tenure with her use of a private email server. While the report is sure to fuel her opponents, the report was quick to note that Clinton’s mishandling of official government information was not limited to her administration and there were “longstanding, systemic weaknesses” in the State Department well before Clinton took the role. The State Department Inspector General unveiled a lengthy audit Wednesday into the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server that found, “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department issues before leaving government service,” read the audit according to multiple reports.
The audit continued, “Because she did not do so, she did not comply with the [State] Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” The audit also states the Democratic presidential nominee and her top aides did not cooperate with the investigation, including Jake Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, Politico reported. Clinton’s presidential campaign released a statement from press secretary Nick Merrill following the audit’s release, writing:
“While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email.”Those “email practices” of past administrations’ electronic record-keeping were detailed in the report as “longstanding, systemic weaknesses … that go well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state.” From NBC News:
“The audit found that the non-compliance over personal email went beyond Clinton, and that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, also failed to preserve government-related emails when he was secretary of state. “The State Department asked Powell to try to receive relevant emails from his internet provider, but ‘as of May 2016 the Department has not received a response’ from Powell, the audit said.”Clinton has maintained throughout the email controversy that she and her staff complied with federal regulations and that her use of a personal email server did not break any rules for record-keeping at the time. Clinton believes that since most of the emails sent were to people within the State Department, she was following proper procedure. The State Department audit, however, disagreed with those assertions. The audit reaffirms that “sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a federal record.” The report highlights Clinton’s worry that her personal emails would become part of the public record, but that when talk about a secondary state email or second personal device were spoken of, information technology officials were rebuffed and those suggestions ultimately declined. But the Clinton campaign reiterated that their team took all necessary steps to protect the security of the Secretary’s messages and even went beyond what past administrations had done. From Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon:
“Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server. “We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that. But as this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.”That point was reiterated by the State Department in a statement Wednesday, saying it “could have done a better job preserving emails and records of Secretaries of State and their senior staff going back several administrations.” The Department acknowledged “compliance with email and records management guidance” had long been “inconsistent.”
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