Sec. of State John Kerry complained on Tuesday that the numerous investigations into Hillary Clinton’s home-brew email setup is “tying up international diplomats” and other limited agency resources.
But Kerry, who as a Massachusetts senator traded “Secret” emails with Clinton when she was secretary of state, also insisted that it is not clear whether Clinton’s email habits or the investigations undertaken by Congress looking into them have been more of a strain on the State Department’s resources and budget.
“We have more than 50 simultaneous investigations going on, and we have an unprecedented number of FOIA requests,” Kerry told Wisconsin Sen. [crscore]Ron Johnson[/crscore] during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “I have had to cannibalize bureaus to get people to go spend their time on these requests.”
“I’m concerned about it because this is tying up international diplomats,” he added later in the testimony.
The revelation that Clinton used a personal email account and private server while she was in office touched of thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests, dozens of lawsuits, and a handful of outside investigations.
Clinton’s email setup effectively allowed her to skirt FOIA requests while she was in office. And the revelation of the peculiar arrangement more than two years after she left office also added to the intrigue.
In a tense exchange with Johnson, Kerry implied that Congress — and not perhaps not Clinton — was responsible for the resource glut at the agency even though Congress has allocated more than $2 million to help the State Department handle its increased workload.
“You allocated $2.4 million years ’15 and ’16 in order to help us respond to you, and we’ve been able to step up the level of our delivery as a result of that,” Kerry said, adding that “we’re still greatly overburdened.”
But when Johnson asserted that Clinton’s secret email antics were responsible for the strain, Kerry pushed back.
“It remains to be seen whether or not it’s the 50 investigations by nine different committees that have created more heartburn,” he said.
Kerry was not asked about his own exchanges with Clinton. Emails recently released by the State Department show that he sent Clinton an email from a non-government account on his iPad that the agency has retroactively determined contains information classified as “Secret.” (RELATED: State Dept. Records Show John Kerry Sent Hillary ‘SECRET’ Emails From His iPad)