Appearing at a pro-choice event on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton chose not to address the storm brewing over her exclusive use of a private email account as secretary of state.
Clinton was the honoree and keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary gala for the group EMILY’s List, an influential political action committee that aims to elect Democratic female candidates who support abortion.
She offered her cookie-cutter women’s empowerment spiel — blasting the gender wage gap and calling for paid family leave — and made a joke about whether a dress that went viral last week was blue and black or white and gold.
“Don’t you someday want to see a woman President of the United States of America,” Clinton teased at one point.
She also mentioned pantsuits twice, thanking retiring Maryland U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski for blazing a trail for female politicians by flouting a Senate rule which required women to wear dresses or skirts.
But Clinton declined to discuss another flouting, the one involving her private email account.
She offered no comment, did not hint at and did not crack a joke about the account — the use of which is leading to criticism that she eschews transparency.
Fallout continued Tuesday after The New York Times reported that Clinton exclusively used a private email account — HDR22@clintonemail.com — instead of an official State Department email account to conduct official business. The 2009 National Archives and Records Administration and the State Department’s own internal regulations required the department to ensure that communications are stored. That applies even to records kept on “systems not operated by the agency.”
The emails only came to light in December when Clinton turned over 55,000 emails to the State Department. The agency had asked former secretaries to turn over their records for future use.
It is presumed that the House committee investigating the attack on Benghazi — headed by South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy — tipped The Times off to the emails. The State Department said it turned over 300 of Clinton’s emails related to Benghazi to the committee.
Clinton’s handlers downplayed the private account, claiming that Clinton’s emails would be stored since she was communicating with other State Department employees using @state.gov email accounts.
But the website Gawker reported on Tuesday that Clinton’s top two aides while at state — Huma Abedin and Philippe Reines — used private email accounts as well.
That means that the State Department would have no documentation of any of their emails discussing government business. The Clinton team’s defense also ignores the likelihood that Clinton’s email conversations concerning government business with private citizens, lobbyists, politicians and other government employees could have been recorded for posterity.
The Freedom of Information Act — a tool used by watchdog groups and the media — is also an issue.
As The Daily Caller reported on Tuesday, the State Department received five FOIA requests for Clinton emails in 2012 and 2013, according to department records. Many more requests were likely filed in 2014 and 2015.
But as Gawker reported in another article on Tuesday, the State Department responded to its 2013 FOIA request for Clinton’s emails claiming that none existed.
Federal agencies are required to provide email records from private accounts and from personal accounts used to discuss official business. It is unclear how the State Department responded to the other media outlets’ FOIA requests. According to an article in December from one requester, AP reporter Stephen Braun, the State Department had not fully responded to his Aug. 2013 for Clinton’s emails.
The State Department confirmed to TheDC on Tuesday that it received Clinton’s private emails in December. A senior official confirmed that the department must have possession of records in order to fulfill FOIA requests, implying that it did not have possession of any Clinton emails before that. (RELATED: How Did The State Department Respond To Records Requests For Hillary’s Emails?)
That leaves open the question of whether the State Department failed to request those private emails from Clinton to fill the FOIA requests or whether she denied that she had them.
It is too early to know at this stage, and the State Department is being tight-lipped.