A House panel Tuesday formally requested Hillary Clinton to testify about the private server and email account she used while serving as secretary of state.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton’s personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.
Clinton said she only deleted personal emails and turned over every work-related message to the State Department, which is reviewing the data to filter out classified information.
“Because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.” Gowdy wrote, “this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records.”
In Tuesday’s letter, Gowdy warned that Clinton’s decision not to turn over the server, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, who serves as the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Gowdy’s depiction of Clinton is inaccurate because Clinton has always been willing to talk to the panel under oath.
“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago — in public and under oath — so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate,” Cummings said. “Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”
The House has the power to subpoena the server, but neither Gowdy nor House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say whether it will use that authority. Boehner has demanded Clinton turn over the server.
Gowdy said he wants a neutral party to examine the deleted emails to find out of there is any information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The House panel wants to examine the State Department’s role before, during and after the attack.
Gowdy noted in the letter that even though Clinton said she deleted the emails, it is “technically possible,” to retrieve them.
No Copies of Clinton Emails on Server, Lawyer Says
WASHINGTON — An examination of the server that housed the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used exclusively when she was secretary of state showed that there are no copies of any emails she sent during her time in office, her lawyer told a congressional committee on Friday.
After her representatives determined which emails were government-related and which were private, a setting on the account was changed to retain only emails sent in the previous 60 days, her lawyer, David Kendall, said. He said the setting was altered after she gave the records to the government.
“Thus, there are no firstname.lastname@example.org emails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized,” Mr. Kendall said in a letter to the House select committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The committee subpoenaed the server this month, asking Mrs. Clinton to hand it over to a third party so it could determine which emails were personal and which were government records.
At a news conference this month, Mrs. Clinton appeared to provide two answers about whether she still had copies of her emails. First, she said that she “chose not to keep” her private personal emails after her lawyers had examined the account and determined on their own which ones were personal and which were State Department records.
But later, she said that the server, which contained personal communication by her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “will remain private.” The server was kept at their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which is protected around the clock by the Secret Service.
Mrs. Clinton’s disclosure on Friday only heightened suspicions by the committee’s chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, about how she handled her emails, and it is likely to lead to more tension between her and the committee.
Mr. Gowdy said in a written statement that it appeared that Mrs. Clinton deleted the emails after Oct. 28, when the State Department first asked her to turn over emails that were government records.
“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server, ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” Mr. Gowdy said.
Mrs. Clinton’s “unprecedented email arrangement with herself and her decision nearly two years after she left office to permanently delete all emails” had deprived Americans of a full record of her time in office, he added.
Mr. Gowdy said that Mrs. Clinton would have to answer questions from Congress about her decision, but he did not say whether that would be at a hearing or a private interview.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said in a statement, “She’s ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public.”
The spokesman, Nick Merrill, added that Mrs. Clinton’s representatives “have been in touch with the committee and the State Department to make clear that she would like her emails made public as soon as possible.”
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The ranking Democrat on the committee, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, defended Mrs. Clinton’s disclosure.
“This confirms what we all knew — that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails, and that the select committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi,” Mr. Cummings said.
In the letter, Mr. Kendall offered a defense for the process Mrs. Clinton had used to differentiate between personal messages and government records. He said that those procedures were consistent with guidelines from the National Archives and the State Department, which say that an individual can make the decision about what should be preserved as a federal record.
So, Mr. Kendall contended, the process Mrs. Clinton used was “not an ‘arrangement’ that is ‘unprecedented’ or ‘unique,’ but instead the normal procedure carried out by tens of thousands of agency officials and employees in the ordinary course.”
Mrs. Clinton’s review of her emails, however, did not occur when she was secretary of state or shortly after she left office. Last October, nearly two years after she left office, the State Department sent her a letter requesting all government records, like emails, she may have possessed.
In response, she provided the State Department in December with about 30,000 printed emails that she said were government records. She has said that an additional 30,000 emails were personal.
It appears that Mrs. Clinton still has copies of the emails she deemed public records. Attached to Mr. Kendall’s letter was one sent to him by the State Department this week. A letter from the under secretary of state for management, Patrick F. Kennedy, said that the department understood that she wanted to keep copies of those documents. Mr. Kennedy said that the agency had consulted with the National Archives, and that allowing her “access to the documents is in the public interest as it will promote informed discussion” as she responds to congressional and other inquiries.
Mrs. Clinton cannot make the emails public without the State Department’s approval. Mr. Kennedy said that if the State Department determined that any of the documents were classified, “additional steps will be required to safeguard and protect the information.” Mrs. Clinton has said she had no classified information in her emails.
Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal’s account.
The emails, which were posted on the internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya’s civil war raged in 2011.
Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.
The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.
The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton’s private email address were posted online after Blumenthal’s account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush’s sister, Colin Powell, and others. He’s now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year.
The contents of the memos, which have recently become the subject of speculation in the right-wing media, raise new questions about how Clinton used her private email account and whether she tapped into an undisclosed back channel for information on Libya’s crisis and other foreign policy matters.
Blumenthal, a New Yorker staff writer in the 1990s, became a top aide to President Bill Clinton and worked closely with Hillary Clinton during the fallout from the Whitewater investigation into the Clinton family. She tried to hire him when she joined President Obama’s cabinet in 2009, but White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly nixed the idea on the grounds Blumenthal was a divisive figure whose attacks on Obama during the Democratic primary had poisoned his relationship with the new administration.
It’s unclear who tasked Blumenthal, known for his fierce loyalty to the Clintons, with preparing detailed intelligence briefs. It’s also not known who was paying him, or where the operation got its money. The memos were marked “confidential” and relied in many cases on “sensitive” sources in the Libyan opposition and Western intelligence and security services. Other reports focused on Egypt, Germany, and Turkey.
Indeed, though they were sent under Blumenthal’s name, the reports appear to have been gathered and prepared by Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service in Europe who left the agency in 2005. Since then, he has established a consulting firm called Tyler Drumheller, LLC.
He has also been affiliated with a firm called DMC Worldwide, which he co-founded with Washington, D.C., attorney Danny Murray and former general counsel to the U.S. Capitol Police John Caulfield. DMC Worldwide’s now-defunct website describes it at as offering “innovative security and intelligence solutions to global risks in a changing world.”
In one exchange in March 2013, Blumenthal emailed Drumheller, “Thanks. Can you send Libya report.” Drumheller replied, “Here it is, pls do not share it with Cody. I don’t want moin speculating on sources. It is on the Maghreb and Libya.”
Cody is Cody Shearer, a longtime Clinton family operative—his brother was an ambassador under Bill Clinton and his now-deceased sister is married to Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott—who was in close contact with Blumenthal. While it’s not entirely clear from the documents, “Moin” may refer to the nickname of Mohamed Mansour El Kikhia, a member of the Kikhia family, a prominent Libyan clan with ties to the Libyan National Transition Council. (An email address in Blumenthal’s address book, which was also leaked, wasassociated with his Facebook page.)
There’s no indication in Blumenthal’s emails whether Clinton read or replied to them before she left State on February 1, 2013, but he was clearly part of a select group with knowledge of the private clintonemail.com address, which was unknown to the public until
Gawker published it this year. They do suggest that she interacted with Blumenthal using the account after she stepped down. “H: got your message a few days ago,” reads the subject line of one email from Blumenthal to Clinton on February 8, 2013; “H: fyi, will continue to send relevant intel,” reads another.
The memos cover a wide array of subjects in extreme detail, from German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s conversations with her finance minister about French president Francois Hollande–marked “THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE”—to the composition of the newly elected South Korean president’s transition team.
At least 10 of the memos deal in whole or in part with internal Libyan politics and the government’s fight against militants, including the status of the Libyan oil industry and the prospects for Western companies to participate.
One memo was sent on August 23, 2012, less than three weeks before Islamic militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. It cites “an extremely sensitive source” who highlighted a string of bombings and kidnappings of foreign diplomats and aid workers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, suggesting they were the work of people loyal to late Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.
While the memo doesn’t rise to the level of a warning about the safety of U.S. diplomats, it portrays a deteriorating security climate. Clinton noted a few days after the Benghazi attack, which left four dead and 10 people injured, that U.S. intelligence officials didn’t have advance knowledge of the threat.
On September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, Blumenthal sent a memo that cited a “sensitive source” saying that the interim Libyan president, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, was told by a senior security officer that the assault was inspired by an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., as well as by allegations from Magariaf’s political opponents that he had CIA ties.
Blumenthal followed up the next day with an email titled “Re: More Magariaf private reax.” It said Libyan security officials believed an Islamist radical group called the Ansa al Sharia brigade had prepared the attack a month in advance and “took advantage of the cover” provided by the demonstrations against the video.
An October 25, 2012 memo says that Magariaf and the Libyan army chief of staff agree that the “situation in the country is becoming increasingly dangerous and unmanageable” and “far worse” than Western leaders realize.
Blumenthal’s email warnings, of course, followed a year of Libyan hawkishness on the part of Clinton. In February of 2011, she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it is time for Gaddafi to go.” The next month, after having described Russian reluctance over military intervention as “despicable,” Clinton met with rebel leaders in Paris and drummed up support for a no-fly zone while in Cairo. On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council voted to back Libyan rebels against Gaddafi.
It’s this buildup, which Clinton still proudly recalled in her 2014 memoir, that Blumenthal appears to join in on 2011. In addition to the intel memos, his emails also disclose that he and his associates worked to help the Libyan opposition, and even plotted to insert operatives on the ground using a private contractor.
A May 14, 2011 email exchange between Blumenthal and Shearer shows that they were negotiating with Drumheller to contract with someone referred to as “Grange” and “the general” to place send four operatives on a week-long mission to Tunis, Tunisia, and “to the border and back.” Tunisia borders Libya and Algeria.
“Sid, you are doing great work on this,” Drumheller wrote to Blumenthal. “It is going to be around $60,000, coverting r/t business class airfare to Tunis, travel in country to the border and back, and other expenses for 7–10 days for 4 guys.”
After Blumenthal forwarded that note to Shearer, he wrote back questioning the cost of the operation. “Sid, do you think the general has to send four guys. He told us three guys yesterday, a translator and two other guys. I understand the difficulty of the mission and realize that K will be repaid but I am going to need an itemized budget for these guys.”
“The general” and “Grange” appear to refer to David L. Grange, a major general in the Army who ran a secret Pentagon special operations unit before retiring in 1999. Grange subsequently founded Osprey Global Solutions, a consulting firm and government contractor that offers logistics, intelligence, security training, armament sales, and other services. The Osprey Foundation, which is a nonprofit arm of Osprey Global Solutions, is listed as one of the State Department’s “global partners” in a 2014 report from the Office of Global Partnerships.’
Among the documents in the cache released by Lazar is an August 24, 2011, memorandum of understanding between Osprey Global Solutions and the Libyan National Transition Council—the entity that took control in the wake of Qadaffi’s execution—agreeing that Osprey will contract with the NTC to “assist in the resumption of access to its assets and operations in country” and train Libyan forces in intelligence, weaponry, and “rule-of-land warfare.” The document refers to meetings held in Amman, Jordan between representatives of Osprey and a Mohammad Kikhia, who represented the National Transition Council.
Five months later, according to a document in the leak, Grange wrote on Osprey Global letterhead to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, introducing Osprey as a contractor eager to provide humanitarian and other assistance in Libya. “We are keen to support the people of Libya under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Finance and the Libyan Stock Exchange,” Grange wrote. Shapiro is a longtime Clinton loyalist; he served on her Senate staff as foreign policy advisor.
Another document in the cache, titled “Letter_for_Moin,” is an appeal from Drumheller to then-Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan offering the services of Tyler Drumheller LLC, “to develop a program that will provide discreet confidential information allowing the appropriate entities in Libya to address any regional and international challenges.”
The “K” who was, according to Shearer’s email, to be “repaid” for his role in the Tunisia operation appears to be someone named Khalifa al Sherif, who sent Blumenthal several emails containing up-to-the-minute information on the civil war in Libya, and appears to have been cited as a source in several of the reports.
Contacted by ProPublica and Gawker, Drumheller’s attorney and business partner Danny Murray confirmed that Drumheller “worked” with Blumenthal and was aware of the hacked emails, but declined to comment further.
Shearer said only that “the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information.” The FBI declined to comment.
Blumenthal, Grange, and Kikhia all did not respond to repeated attempts to reach them. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton had no comment on Blumenthal’s activities with Drumheller.
Whatever Blumenthal, Shearer, Drumheller, and Grange were up to in 2011, 2012, and 2013 on Clinton’s behalf, it appears that she could have used the help: According to State Department personnel directories, in 2011 and 2012—the height of the Libya crisis—State didn’t have a Libyan desk officer, and the entire Near Eastern Magreb Bureau, which which covers Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, had just two staffers. Today, State has three Libyan desk officers and 11 people in the Near Eastern Magreb Bureau. A State Department official wouldn’t say how many officers were on the desk in 2011, but said there was always “at least one” officer and “sometimes many more, working on Libya.”
Reached for comment, a State Department public affairs official who would only speak on background declined to address questions about Blumenthal’s relationship to Clinton, whether she was aware of the intelligence network, and who if anyone was paying Blumenthal. Asked about the Tunisia-Libya mission, the official replied, “There was a trip with the secretary in October of 2011, but there was also a congressional delegation in April, 2011. There were media reports about both of these at the time.” Neither trip involved travelling via Tunis.
President Obama communicated with Hillary Rodham Clinton via email but didn’t know the “details” of how his secretary of state was using a private, off-the-books email address, the White House said Monday.
“They did have the occasion to email one another. … He was not aware of the details of how that email address and how that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “The president did email with Secretary Clinton. I assume he recognized the email he was emailing back to.”
It was revealed last week that Mrs. Clinton did not use an official government email address during her four years in charge of the State Department and conducted all business on a private account. The administration previously has said the president learned of the email scandal via news reports.
Mr. Earnest also said that all of Mr. Obama’s emails have been properly preserved in accordance with federal record-keeping requirements. As a result, all of Mr. Obama’s emails with Mrs. Clinton have been saved, Mr. Earnest said.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday suggested that Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges if she knowingly withholds emails from congressional investigators.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Issa noted that “voluntary cooperation does not guarantee that it’s a crime not to deliver all” requested emails.
“A subpoena, which Trey Gowdy issued, is so that in fact it will be a crime if she knowingly withholds documents pursuant to subpoena,” Issa said.
The former House Oversight Committee chairman issued three subpoenas related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, he said, acknowledging the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week subpoenaed all of Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of State.
Clinton last week called on the State Department to release the 55,000 pages of her emails that she self-selected and turned over. State has turned over about 900 pages to the committee.
Issa argued that Clinton “wasn’t forthcoming two and a half years ago.”
“She, in fact, hid the very existence of this until she was caught,” Issa said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Benghazi committee, pushed back on CNN.
“They issued a subpoena for records we already have,” Schiff said. “We’ve read them. There’s nothing in them.”
“What is the law at the time? The law at the time was that she could use her personal email as long as she preserved it,” Schiff said, arguing “she clearly did preserve her emails.”
“In my view, this was not provided in response to the The New York Times article or anything else. This was provided last year when a request went out to the state department and all former secretaries,” Schiff said.
“She followed the law in place at the time, and I think that’s, I think, the relevant point.”
A congressional committee issued subpoenas Wednesday seeking information about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account for official business while she was secretary of state, setting up a potential legal clash with the presumptive Democratic front-runner for president.
The move followed the revelation that Clinton had installed a private server at her New York home that allowed her, and not the State Department, to store her e-mail correspondence and later decide which ones to turn over as public records.
The subpoenas, sent by the special House committee probing the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, reflected the angry response more broadly from Republican lawmakers and conservative watchdogs who said Clinton’s private e-mail system allowed her to evade scrutiny from investigations and legal proceedings.
Late Wednesday, Clinton responded to the issue for the first time tweeting, “I want the public to see my e-mail. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”]
In a tense exchange with reporters Wednesday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf denied anything inappropriate occurred after revelations that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account for work. (C-Span)
Marie Harf, deputy state department spokeswoman, said the e-mails provided by Clinton will be reviewed for public release “using a normal process” that guides such releases. “We will undertake this review as quickly as possible,” she said. “Given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”
Meanwhile, government transparency advocates expressed concern over the level of control Clinton had asserted over her records. Security experts wondered if hackers could exploit weaknesses in the Clinton server to gain access to sensitive information.
And, on the political front, some Democrats worried about whether the e-mail issue would damage Clinton’s strength as a presidential candidate.
“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina who has said he hopes Vice President Biden runs. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?”
The subpoenas issued Wednesday seek all Clinton e-mails related to Libya during her time as secretary of state — an attempt to collect new e-mails sent from the clintonemail.com domain, the private account Clinton established when she took office in 2009.
Also Wednesday, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, said the organization is considering filing legal petitions to reopen as many as nine cases in which the group unsuccessfully sought public records from the State Department. The cases were either dismissed, closed or settled after the administration claimed it found no records involving Clinton related to the group’s requests.
Why Clinton’s private e-mail address is bad news(1:21)
Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address that she used while secretary of state reinforces everything people don’t like about her, argues The Post’s Chris Cillizza, and is very dangerous to her presidential ambitions. (The Washington Post)
And other lawmakers who have tried to investigate Clinton’s tenure at State said they were outraged and felt misled, and were concerned many of the public records they had requested had not been provided because of the use of private e-mail.
State Department officials have confirmed that Clinton exclusively used a personal account, instead of a government e-mail address, during her time in office.
Instead of using State Department servers to send and receive those e-mails, she used a server housed at her private home in Chappaqua, N.Y., a Clinton ally familiar with her e-mail practices confirmed Wednesday. The server’s existence was first reported by the Associated Press.
The Clinton ally said the server and e-mail addresses were established after the conclusion of Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for president in 2008, as she was transitioning away from using an account held by her defunct campaign.
Neither State Department officials nor Clinton aides would provide information about which officials had signed off on the arrangement, whether a legal analysis was performed and whether any agency officials ever raised questions about Clinton’s e-mail system.
Beyond her late night tweet, Clinton herself has not addressed the e-mail issue, and her spokesman has not expanded on a brief statement issued Monday, in which he said Clinton had complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. The spokesman, Nick Merrill, also said that other secretaries of state have used private e-mail accounts.
State Department officials said Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of e-mail records last year after officials requested that former secretaries turn over public documents in their possession.
But, agency officials said, the decision over which e-mails would be deemed public record fell to Clinton and her private advisers — not to government officials or archivists.
State Department spokesman Harf told reporters Wednesday that she could not answer “when it was set up, and all that.” She referred questions about the system’s security to Clinton’s personal office.
Harf said there was no indication that Clinton had used the account for classified information, but she acknowledged that she was relying on information conveyed by Clinton and her aides.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest also defended Clinton, saying he had seen no evidence to suggest Clinton’s team had failed to turn over everything in its possession. But Earnest also took pains to say that he was relying on the Clinton team for his information.
“I also want to just be crystal clear about the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed,” he said.
Federal regulations in place while Clinton was in office required that e-mails sent on non-government accounts be preserved in the “appropriate agency record-keeping system.” Harf said the regulation contained no “time requirement” to turn over records, meaning Clinton’s response — more than a year after she left office — complied.
But government transparency advocates said the use of a private e-mail account and a private server meant that for years, Clinton’s e-mails were off-limits to public records requests filed with the State Department.
The long delay in turning records over to the State Department also places enormous power in the hands of her closest aides to decide which of her e-mails should be made public and which should be shielded from view.
“There’s no legitimate way to claim that there wasn’t a requirement, certainly to keep with the spirit of the law, to make real-time copies available to the agency,” said David Sobel, senior counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
In Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said new subpoenas were a good step because lawmakers do not have confidence Clinton has turned over all of her relevant e-mails to the State Department.
Agency officials have said they have submitted 300 of Clinton’s e-mails to the committee investigating the Benghazi attack.
“The prime reason to set up an account like this is to skirt the law, avoid disclosure,” Chaffetz said. “The question isn’t the number of e-mails she has turned over, it’s the percentage. I want to know who decided what we could see.”
Likewise, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he is concerned that the State Department did not turn over all e-mails by Clinton aide Huma Abedin that he requested in 2013 as part of an effort to see whether Abedin was simultaneously working for the government and an outside consulting firm.
Abedin, like Clinton, sometimes used a private clintonemail.com account.
“The trend of using private e-mail for public business is detrimental to good government,” Grassley said. “The public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions.”
A number of Democrats insisted Wednesday that the e-mail issue would fade quickly in voter’s minds.
“As somebody who desperately wants her to run and wants her to win, on a scale of 1 to 10 this is a negative 12,” said Paul Begala, a longtime Clinton family friend and Democratic strategist. No real voter, Begala said, is going to base a decision on whether “she had a non-archival-compliant
Alice Crites, Tom Hamburger, Steven Rich, Philip Rucker and Katie Zezima contributed to this report.
State Department technology experts expressed security concerns that then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private email service rather than the government’s fortified and monitored system, but those fears fell on deaf ears, a current employee on the department’s cybersecurity team told Al Jazeera America on Tuesday.
The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said it was well known that Clinton’s emails were at greater risk of being hacked, intercepted or monitored, but the warnings were ignored.
“We tried,” the employee said. “We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.”
The New York Times reported Monday night that Clinton used only private email accounts during her tenure — a move that prevented the National Archives and Records Administration from automatically archiving her correspondence for historical purposes when she left office. Instead, the newspaper reported, two months ago Clinton aides turned over some 55,000 pages of emails after they reviewed all the messages she sent and received during her four-year tenure.
Hillary Clinton email controversy2:40
The revelations have set off a firestorm for the potential2016 presidential candidate among open-records advocates who question whether Clinton took this approach to circumvent the normal archiving process for a position of that level. But cybersecurity experts were equally galled by the myriad ways the emails of the nation’s top diplomat could have been compromised.
“That’s reason for serious concern because the State Department’s email system is presumably secured and monitored for threats to national security to a level that whatever Hillary Clinton was using that she set up herself likely is not,” said J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan cybersecurity expert whose most recent paper demonstrated how easily hacked and deceived certain airport body scanners are. “It’s possible she had some kind of special protection in place, but in the absence of any other information, I would be very worried.”
The State Department did not respond to questions about its security efforts on behalf of Clinton’s private email service. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf insisted that Clinton didn’t use email to transmit any classified material.
“We have no indication that Secretary Clinton used her personal email account for anything but unclassified purposes,” Harf wrote to Al Jazeera via email. “While Secretary Clinton did not have a classified email system, she did have multiple other ways of communicating in a classified manner, including assistants printing documents for her, secure phone calls and secure video conferences.”
Yet not all sensitive correspondence is classified, and Clinton could not control what others sent her way. The Smoking Gun, a website that often publishes leaked documents, pointed Tuesday to an email sent to her by Sidney Blumenthal, a former campaign adviser and longtime confidant, with attached memos regarding important security issues around the world. One of those emails, the site reported, included this all-caps warning: “THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCES AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.” Blumenthal’s AOL email was hacked in early 2013, which is when that message was leaked.
The Blumenthal hack also revealed that Clinton was using for at least some of her email the domain clintonemail.com, which, online records show, was registered on Jan. 13, 2009, the day she testified before the Senate as the nominee for secretary of state.
Clinton’s ongoing interaction with email services outside the State Department without the department’s cybersecurity defenses is especially troubling to Halderman.
“The question is [whether] whatever provider she’s using gives her anywhere near the same level of protection for the confidentiality and the authenticity of the communications as she would be getting from her State Department email,” he said. “If she’s using it from her main work machine to send and receive her mail, then people could be intercepting the mail she’s sending and receiving, possibly even changing its content.”
Ed Felten, the chairman of the computer science department at Princeton University and director of the center for Information Technology Policy, was baffled Clinton would even be permitted to forgo using an official email address.
“Any email exchanges between her and other State Department people would be at much higher risk of a compromise,” he said. “For a person who works in government agency, one of the advantages of using the agency’s email is that email exchanged within the agency stay within the agency’s own network. There’s less security risk when that’s the case … Mixing work and personal email increases risks. A lot of people do that but not people who are handling important government secrets.”
But Clay Johnson, a former presidential innovation fellow and a former director of the open-government technology nonprofit Sunlight Labs, suggested Clinton may have used private email because she was advised the state.gov email service wasn’t secure enough. In 2010, during the second year of her tenure, thousands of state.gov emails were posted online as part of the WikiLeaks revelations. He noted that no Clintonemail.com messages were among them.
“It’s very plausible to me that someone walked up to Hillary Clinton and said, ‘The State Department’s mail server is compromised. It has been for years. For right now, use your email address for communications,’” said Johnson, now CEO of the Department of Better Technology, a company that provides software to government agencies.
Regardless, he said he was surprised that anyone in the White House counsel’s office didn’t raise a fuss if Clinton sent even innocuous emails to whitehouse.gov from her personal account. When he was at the White House, he recalled, he and many others were recipients of “a very sternly worded and kind of scary email from the counsel’s office” warning them not to use private email addresses for government business.
“There are two plausible explanations for no one saying anything about it,” Johnson said. “One is that Hillary Clinton is such a towering person and incredibly intimidating and so people were afraid to say something because of her gravitas. Or, two, everyone knew that the State Department’s email was insecure and they came up with a solution that Hillary should use her private email account.”
Harf said it wasn’t until September 2013 that the National Archives and Records Administration issued “guidance on personal email use.” That guidance “included instructions that generally employees should not use personal email for the transaction of government business, but that in the very limited circumstances when it is necessary, all records must be forwarded to a government account or otherwise preserved in the Department’s electronic records systems.”
Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, “is the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov email account,” she added.
Clinton’s last day as secretary of state was Feb. 1, 2013.
Issues of computer security have dogged public officials since the dawn of the Internet age. President Bill Clinton, for instance, saved his former CIA director, John Deutch, from prosecution by pardoning him for having classified materials on his laptops and relabeling them as unclassified.
The Associated Press said Wednesday that it was considering legal action over unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act requests for government documents covering Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
In its requests, the AP asked for her full schedules and calendars and for details on the State Department’s decision to grant a special position to a longtime Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, among other documents. The oldest request, the news organization said, was made in March 2010.
“We believe it’s critically important that government officials and agencies be held accountable to the voters,” said AP’s general counsel, Karen Kaiser. “In this instance, we’ve exhausted our administrative remedies in pursuit of important documents and are considering legal action.”
The statement comes after the revelation this week that Mrs. Clinton used a personal email account for her government business, an unusual practice that some have suggested insulated her correspondence from the eyes of investigators and the public.
In 2012, when Congressional investigators sought documents related to the attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, they were initially not supplied with emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account. In 2013, Gawker submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and a close adviser, Sidney Blumenthal. Though some of that correspondence had been made public already, the State Department told Gawker that it could find no records responsive to the request, Gawker reported.
The conservative group Citizens United is expecting a ruling this week on a lawsuit filed last year after the State Department would not disclose flight records showing who accompanied Mrs. Clinton on overseas trips.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a personal e-mail account to exclusively conduct official business during her time at the State Department, a move that raises questions about access to the full archive of her correspondence, as well as the possibility that she violated federal law requiring official messages to be retained for the record.
The existence of the account was discovered by the House select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and was first reported by The New York Times.
Clinton did not even have a government e-mail address during her tenure as America’s top diplomat, which lasted from 2009 to 2013, and The Times reports that her aides took no action to preserve her emails on department servers, as required by the Federal Records Act.
Instead, the paper reports, Clinton’s advisers selected which of her emails to turn over to the State Department for archival purposes after going through tens of thousands of pages of correspondence. The department said late Monday that it had received 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emails as part of a request made to previous secretaries of state to turn over any official documents they may have had in their possession.
It is not clear how many total emails from that period were in Clinton’s personal account, nor is it clear how Clinton’s advisers decided which emails to hand over to the State Department.
Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, told The Times that the former Secretary of State expected that emails to State Department officials would be preserved. The fate of emails to foreign leaders, private citizens, and non-State Department officials is unclear.
“The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told Fox News late Monday. Harf added that the department turned over about 300 emails to the Benghazi select committee, and noted that Clinton’s successor as Secretary of State, John Kerry, “is the first … to rely primarily on a state.gov e-mail account.”
Records officials interviewed by The Times expressed grave concern over Clinton’s practice, saying it represents a severe ethical breach and noting that personal e-mail accounts are far less secure than official ones.
Jason Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives, told the paper he found it “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 e-mail communications channel for the conduct of government business.” Baron added that the use of private e-mail accounts is meant to be reserved only for emergencies, such as when a department’s server is not working or compromised.
However, The Times reports that the imposition of penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare because the National Archives has so few enforcement mechanisms.
The report has drawn heavy criticism from Republicans, including at least one potential challenger in the 2016 presidential race. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who released 250,000 emails from his gubernatorial tenure this past December, tweeted about the contrast between his disclosures and Clinton’s secrecy.