Hillary Clinton, who desperately wants to be the next president, hit a serious speed bump yesterday with the revelation that she never had an official State Department email account while she was Secretary of State. Instead, she used an unsecured private email account to conduct official business, in violation of government record-keeping laws.
While the use of a private email account isn’t unusual for a Secretary of State, they should only be used for official business when the State Department servers are not working. Even then, the emails should be retained for government record-keeping purposes. Instead, Clinton exclusively used a private email account that is only accessible by her staff, and not by government employees.
This has predictably raised hackles from conservatives and Republicans, but it has also left liberals searching for an explanation as to how an experienced politician like Hillary could do this with a presidential race in her future.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said there is a “real question” as to who is making the decisions about what records to release from Clinton’s tenure at the State Department. Her colleague, Lawrence O’Donnell, had stronger words, calling Clinton’s actions a “stunning breach of security” for Secretary of State.
Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski said it was “ridiculous,” and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told the Today show’s Matt Lauer that he couldn’t honestly give him one good reason as to why Clinton did that, and said it was “highly unusual.”
Trying to do some damage control, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill released the following statement today:
Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any Department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained. When the Department asked former Secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes.
Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved. As a result of State’s request for our help to make sure they in fact were, that is what happened here. As the Department stated, it is in the process of updating its record preservation policies to bring them in line with its retention responsibilities.
So just because she emailed people to their government accounts, she’s covered? I don’t think so.
Coming on the heels of the revelations that the Clinton Foundation has been accepting money from foreign governments and routinely approved Bill Clinton’s speaking engagements without putting them through an ethical review, this only adds to the woes of a campaign that hasn’t been officially announced, but may now be mortally wounded.