OIG Report: State Dept. Covered Up Clinton's Personal Email Use

Brittany M. Hughes | January 8, 2016
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According to a recent report from the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released Thursday, the State Department not only knew Hillary Clinton was using a personal email account to conduct official government businesses, but expressly misinformed a group that filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking information on the then-Secretary of State’s email practices.

According to the OIG report:

In December 2012, the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a FOIA request to the Department seeking records “sufficient to show the number of email accounts of, or associated with, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.”

On May 10, 2013, IPS replied to CREW, stating that “no records responsive to your request were located.”

At the time the request was received, dozens of senior officials throughout the Department, including members of Secretary Clinton’s immediate staff, exchanged emails with the Secretary using the personal accounts she used to conduct official business.

OIG found evidence that the Secretary’s then-Chief of Staff was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up. However, OIG found no evidence to indicate that any of these senior officials reviewed the search results or approved the response to CREW.

OIG also found no evidence that the S/ES, L, and IPS staff involved in responding to requests for information, searching for records, or drafting the response had knowledge of the Secretary’s email usage. Furthermore, it does not appear that S/ES searched any email records, even though the request clearly encompassed emails.

Whether an oversight, mistake or intentional cover-up, the State Department’s failure to disclose Clinton’s use of a personal email account in response to CREW’s FOIA request is just one of a litany of FOIA missteps the OIG uncovered, according to the report. Although this may not be surprising, given that the OIG also notes:

“The Department has not sent out a notice or memorandum reminding employees of their FOIA responsibilities since March 2009, when former Secretary Clinton sent a message commemorating Freedom of Information Day.”

Even still, the Clinton campaign still maintains that Clinton and her staff abided by all FOIA regulations while she was secretary of State, according to the Washington Post:

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said, “The Department had a preexisting process in place to handle the tens of thousands of requests it received annually, and that established process was followed by the Secretary and her staff throughout her tenure.”