Hillary Clinton had no legitimate reason to have a home-brewed email server as secretary of state and used it only to “thrwart” inquiries from Congress and the media, MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said Monday on “Morning Joe.”
“Nobody can give an explanation for why a cabinet secretary would have a private email system other than to thwart inquiries [and] FOIAs,” Mitchell said, recounting conversations she had with numerous intelligence officials at a security conference in which they discussed Clinton’s email arrangement.
The Democratic presidential candidate says she began using a private email server registered to her Chappaqua, N.Y. residence just after she became secretary of state. The server maintained private email accounts Clinton and several top State Department aides used to correspond.
But Clinton’s curious and unprecedented setup is receiving renewed interest amid reports that the inspectors general for the State Department and the Intelligence Communities have made a referral to the Justice Department to investigate whether classified information was mishandled on the server.
Out of a sample of just 40 Clinton emails — she has turned over more than 30,000 — the Intelligence Community’s inspector general found that four contained information classified as “secret” at the time it was sent across Clinton’s server. That despite Clinton’s insistence that she never maintained classified records on her email account or server while she was in office.
“What they are suggesting is that there were classified — four out of the 40 randomly selected had classified information — and it was not information that was later upgraded to be classified, it was information that was classified as, quote, secret, which is a level of classification at the time,” Mitchell said.
“This gets very confusing,” she continued, adding, “that said, the original sin, if you will, is having a private email system.”
Mitchell, who has covered the Clintons for decades, also said that Clinton has still not explained “why going from the Senate into a cabinet-level position, there was a private email system.”
Ron Fournier, a reporter for National Journal, was also on the “Morning Joe” panel and echoed Mitchell’s critique.
Fournier, who has also covered the Clintons for decades, said they “can’t brush away the fact the secretary said when this first was revealed that there was no confidential information that was given out.
“Let’s go back, like Andrea said, to the original sin here,” he continued. “It was unprecedented to have a home cooked server in your house if you’re a cabinet secretary. It was against White House government policy to have a home cooked server in your basement of your house when you’re a cabinet secretary. It was to thwart congressional subpoenas, congressional requests for information, and public requests for information. And the only explanation she’s given, frankly, isn’t very credible.”
Clinton has repeatedly said she will not turn her private server over to a third party to ensure that, as she has claimed, she turned over all of her work-related emails. The State Department has also said that it has no plans to ask for the server.