Hillary Clinton exclusively used her personal email account to conduct business as Secretary of State, flouting federal requirements on email use and raising concerns over whether she used a properly encrypted private account.
The New York Times reported Clinton’s secretive email activity on Monday, noting that the account was uncovered by a House committee investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
According to The Times, Clinton’s aides turned over approximately 300 Benghazi-related emails from her personal account to the House committee two weeks ago.
Clinton did not have an official email account during her entire stint as head of the State Department, which stretched from Jan. 2009 until Feb. 2013.
As The Times notes, Clinton’s aides did not ensure that her communiques were preserved on agency servers, as required under the Federal Records Act.
“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,” Jason R. Baron, an attorney and former official at the National Archives and Records Administration, told The Times.
He said that he could not recall any instance while he worked at the agency from 2000 until 2013 in which a high-ranking federal official used personal email as Clinton did.
One advocate for government transparency wondered whether Clinton did enough to ensure her emails were secure from hackers.
“Personal emails are not secure,” Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, told The Times. “Senior officials should not be using them.”
He also said it was “a shame” that Clinton or her aides failed to ensure that her emails were automatically preserved.
As expected, Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill spun the news. He told The Times that Clinton was not attempting to be secretive, claiming that because her emails were sent to and from other State Department officials and staffers she had “every expectation they would be retained.”
Merrill did not answer other questions pertaining to whether Clinton used her personal account to converse with foreign leaders or government officials in other agencies.
Merrill also did not clear up why Clinton declined to use an official State Department email account.
Clinton’s lack of transparency stands in stark contrast to a potential 2016 presidential challenger.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released tens of thousands of emails he sent from his official state account during his time in office, from 1999 to 2007.
According to The Times, John Kerry, Clinton’s replacement at State, uses an official email account. His aides are also preserving the messages.