Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted under oath Thursday that she never considered the impact that her use of a private email account during her time at the State Department would have on the preservation of certain public records.
Clinton was responding to a set of 25 questions from Judicial Watch, the activist group that has filed a federal lawsuit over her use of a personal email server rather than an official State Department account for official business.
Clinton’s answers are packed with legalistic objections to the scope of the questions being asked and whether or not Judicial Watch is actually entitled to much of the information it requests. However, one fact that shines through is that the former secretary of state appears to have flagrantly ignored both security concerns and the requirement that official communications be retained as federal records.
Throughout her responses, Clinton repeatedly claims that it was her assumption that because it was her practice to send emails about departmental business to staff at their official government email addresses that all of her emails were being captured by the department’s servers.
However, this does not account for emails that Clinton may have sent or received from people not employed by the State Department. In one answer, she admits, “she did not consider how e-mails she sent to or received from persons who did not have State Department e-mail accounts would be searched by the Department in response to [Freedom of Information Act] requests.”
This is particularly significant because when Clinton was asked to turn over all of her official emails after leaving office, she directed her attorneys to go through her tens of thousands of accumulated emails and identify those related to State Department business. Those not flagged by the attorneys as official were permanently deleted.
The process was not transparent and amounted to Clinton demanding that the government trust the judgment of her attorneys about which emails were official federal records and which were not. Subsequent investigations have revealed that many emails related to State Department business were not, in fact, turned over to the government, but were destroyed.
Clinton’s continued use of a private system, as well as unsecured devices to access that system, also raised major security issues. She refused to answer a question about why she continued to use an unsecured Blackberry device to access her email even after receiving and acknowledging an internal State Department memo that warned, “any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving email, and exploiting calendars.”
She also vowed that she was never told that her use of the system might violate federal recordkeeping laws. The answer reads, in part, “she does not recall that it was ever suggested to her, and she does not recall participating in any communication, conversation, or meeting in which it was discussed that her use of a clintonemail.com e-mail account to conduct official State Department business conflicted with or violated federal recordkeeping laws.”
The release of Clinton’s answers to the queries from Judicial Watch is just the most recent step in a long-running saga that has involved the watchdog organization deposing multiple Clinton aides and associates, and which promises to drag on far into the future.
“We’re pleased that we now have a little bit more information about Hillary Clinton’s email practices,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. “Our lawyers will be reviewing the responses closely. Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to answer many of the questions in a clear and straightforward manner further reflects disdain for the rule of law.”
Below is a copy of Hillary Clinton’s responses to questions submitted by Judicial Watch: