Clin­ton now says se­cret email sys­tem was never cleared

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Hil­lary Clin­ton ad­mit­ted un­der oath this week that she doesn’t re­call ask­ing any­one for per­mis­sion to use a se­cret server and email ac­count dur­ing her time in the State De­part­ment, con­tra­dict­ing pre­vi­ous pub­lic pro­nounce­ments that she had re­ceived ap­proval.

Mrs. Clin­ton said she didn’t re­call see­ing a 2011 warn­ing about in­creased hack­ing at­tempts on se­nior de­part­ment of­fi­cials’ pri­vate ac­counts and that she didn’t ac­tu­ally write an­other warn­ing that was sent un­der her name.

“Sec­re­tary Clin­ton states that she does not re­call be­ing ad­vised, cau­tioned, or warned dur­ing her ten­ure as Sec­re­tary of State about hack­ing or at­tempted hack­ing of her clin­tone­mail.com e-mail ac­count or the server that hosted her clin­tone­mail.com ac­count,” she said in sworn tes­ti­mony dated last Mon­day and filed in fed­eral court Thurs­day.

A judge had or­dered Mrs. Clin­ton to pro­vide tes­ti­mony as he de­cides whether the State De­part­ment fully com­plied with the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, which gives the pub­lic a right to see its pub­lic of­fi­cials’ records — in­clud­ing emails that con­tain govern­ment busi­ness.

Mrs. Clin­ton for years foiled that law by us­ing her se­cret ac­count, which was tied to a server she kept at her home in New York, and which ef­fec­tively shielded her emails from any sort of open records over­sight. She re­turned some 30,000 mes­sages in De­cem­ber 2014, nearly two years af­ter she left govern­ment, and the FBI said it re­cov­ered thou­sands more that she failed to turn over.

Those are be­ing re­leased in batches, but Ju­di­cial Watch, a pub­lic in­ter­est law firm that has sued to get a look at all of the emails, is try­ing to get a full ac­count­ing of where the sys­tem broke down dur­ing Mrs. Clin­ton’s ten­ure.

Ju­di­cial Watch wanted to de­pose Mrs. Clin­ton in per­son, but Judge Em­met G. Sul­li­van re­jected its re­quest and said writ­ten re­sponses would be enough.

Mrs. Clin­ton evaded an­swers to many of the 25 ques­tions posed by Ju­di­cial Watch, say­ing they were out­side the scope of the court case.

Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Ju­di­cial Watch, said that showed “dis­dain for the rule of law.”

The an­swers she did give were care­fully crafted and usu­ally re­vealed lit­tle about her de­ci­sion-mak­ing con­cern­ing the emails.

She has re­peat­edly main­tained that her use of a se­cret sys­tem was “al­lowed,” but the de­part­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, the FBI and now Mrs. Clin­ton her­self said she never asked whether that was true. In fact, the prac­tice broke pol­icy, de­part­ment of­fi­cials have said.

In an in­ter­view this sum­mer, Mrs. Clin­ton said it was “rec­om­mended” that she use a per­sonal email ac­count.

In her tes­ti­mony this week, she said that rec­om­men­da­tion didn’t come from any­one in govern­ment but rather from for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell. In a 2009 email mes­sage, Mr. Pow­ell said he did use a pri­vate ac­count but warned Mrs. Clin­ton to be “very care­ful.”

Blam­ing Mr. Pow­ell also con­tra­dicts what Mrs. Clin­ton told the FBI. She told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Mr. Pow­ell’s ad­vice did not fac­tor into her de­ci­sion.

Some of Mrs. Clin­ton’s staff who knew about her se­cret ac­count voiced con­cerns to their su­pe­ri­ors, but Mrs. Clin­ton said no­body raised the is­sue with her, nor did she dis­cuss it with any­one else.

“Sec­re­tary Clin­ton states that she does not re­call par­tic­i­pat­ing in any com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­fore or dur­ing her ten­ure as Sec­re­tary of State con­cern­ing or re­lat­ing to her de­ci­sion to use a clin­tone­mail.com ac­count to con­duct of­fi­cial State De­part­ment busi­ness,” she said in the tes­ti­mony.

She said that when she re­turned her mes­sages to the govern­ment, she left it up to her at­tor­neys to de­cide which ones were of­fi­cial busi­ness. She also said her at­tor­neys were in charge of wip­ing her server clean, and she de­nied hav­ing “per­sonal knowl­edge about the de­tails of that process.”

Mrs. Clin­ton never told the of­fi­cial charged with stor­ing her records about her se­cret ar­range­ment and never thought to turn over her mes­sages when she left the de­part­ment in 2013.

She said she left it to her un­der­lings to store her mes­sages be­cause she was of­ten email­ing them on their of­fi­cial state. gov ac­counts. But she ad­mit­ted in her an­swers Thurs­day that she didn’t think about what would hap­pen to mes­sages she ex­changed with those out­side the de­part­ment.

“She did not con­sider how e-mails she sent to or re­ceived from per­sons who did not have State De­part­ment e-mail ac­counts would be searched by the De­part­ment in re­sponse to FOIA re­quests,” she said.

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