Washington | Hillary Clinton may have violated American laws by exclusively using her personal email account for conducing official business, including communications with the foreign leaders and diplomats, when she worked as the US Secretary of State, according to a media report. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department.
Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act, The New York Times reported. Clinton, an attorney and former first lady, served as a US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. However, Clinton’s spokesperson Nick Merrill defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the letter and spirit of the rules.
The State Department acknowledged that Clinton used her personal email, but said they had access to her records. 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 said.
Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them, the report said. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials, the news report said. According to the daily, several other previous secretary of states had used personal email as a mode of communication.
Last year, the Department sent a letter to representatives of former secretaries of state requesting they submit any records in their possession for proper preservation as part of our effort to continually improve our records preservation and management, Harf said. In response to our request, Secretary Clinton provided the Department with emails spanning her time at the Department, she added.
After the State Department reviewed those emails, last month the State Department produced about 300 emails responsive to recent requests from the Select Committee, Harf said. These steps include regularly archiving all of Secretary Kerry’s emails to ensure that we are capturing all federal records, she said. For some historical context, Secretary Kerry is the first Secretary of State to rely primarily on a state.gov email account, Harf said.
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