Democrats defend Hillary Clinton over email controversy

2015-03-04 12:07
Hillary Rodham Clinton (Cliff Owen, AP)

Hillary Rodham Clinton (Cliff Owen, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington -  Democrats scrambled on Tuesday to contain the fallout for Hillary Clinton, their favored 2016 presidential candidate, after allegations she inappropriately used her personal email for work while secretary of state.

The Clinton camp quickly sought to discredit a New York Times report published late Monday that said her exclusive use of a personal email account from 2009 through 2013 and a lack of email preservation may have run afoul of the Federal Records Act.

The report got wide play, largely because it fuels a political narrative from Republicans that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are obsessed with secrecy and seek to play by a different set of rules.

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill, however, said Clinton had followed both the "letter and spirit of the rules" while she was secretary of state.

Clinton made no reference to the debate over her email use on Tuesday night when she delivered a 30-minute speech at a gala dinner in Washington for Emily's List, a political organization that helps elect Democratic women who support access to abortion.

The state department also defended Clinton, with spokeswoman Marie Harf saying, "There was no prohibition on using a account for official business, as long as it's preserved."

Democratic lawmakers and party loyalists tried to cast Clinton's use of personal email as nothing unusual. They noted that previous secretaries of state, including Colin Powell, used personal accounts.

They also pointed out that when Republican George W Bush was president, senior adviser Karl Rove had used an address through the Republican National Committee to conduct some business.

A National Public Radio report said Chuck Hagel had not used an official account when he was defence secretary.

It is unclear what the damage from the report will be. The rules governing high-level officials' emails have been in flux in recent years, so it is far from certain that any formal action will be taken against Clinton.

But it does provide ammunition for critics, especially for a congressional committee investigating the events surrounding the 11 September 2012, attack against a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, in which the US ambassador to Libya was killed.

Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican congressman who chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said the committee learned recently that Clinton had used more than one personal email address.

"The fact is the state department cannot certify they have produced all of former Secretary Clinton's emails because they do not have all of former Secretary Clinton's emails, nor do they control access to them," he said.

Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah said the House Oversight Committee, which he chairs, will work with the Benghazi committee "to further explore Hillary Clinton's use of personal emails while at the state department."

Jeb Bush, a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination who recently released a trove of emails from his time as Florida governor, many sent on his personal account, demanded Clinton's emails be made public.

Evolving rules

Officials acknowledge that Clinton used a personal email account throughout her state department tenure.

The state department said Clinton last year turned over emails from the period after a records request and that 300 of these were sent to a committee investigating Benghazi.

A total of 55 000 pages of material covering the time she was in office were turned over, the agency said.

The Obama administration has acknowledged that the federal government is still in the process of modernizing its policy on archiving emails and other digital information.

Federal agency heads were told in August 2012 they would have to start keeping electronic records of all emails. A subsequent memo said explicitly that work performed through a personal email address may also need to be archived.

Jason R Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the aational archives and records administration, said he believed that "the sole use of a private email account by a high-level official to transact government business is plainly inconsistent with the Federal Records Act and longstanding policies of the National Archives."

However, James Lewis, a technical expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the reality is many senior officials use personal email.

"The issue here was intent. Was she doing it deliberately to avoid having her emails tracked, and was there classified information?" he said.

Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.