I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account yesterday by tweeting: “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible,” – meaning that she wants the public to see the emails her staff was willing to disclose to the government years after her public service.
Clinton has been facing criticism in the aftermath of a story published by the New York Times which reported that she never used nor even established a government email account while serving as Secretary of State. The story pointed out that Clinton may have violated the Federal Records Act by not keeping an official record of her communication while acting as Secretary of State.
Clinton supporters began pushing back on the notion that Hillary Clinton had violated any rules claiming the rules in question were not put in place until 2014, after Clinton left the position. But, as noted by Politico, the relevant rules to Clinton’s email use are the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements which have been in place since 2009.
According to Section 1236.22 of the 2009 NARA requirements, which Schmidt provided in an email, “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”
In short, the State Department was required to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s emails, including those on personal accounts, were preserved in an agency record-keeping system. The failure to ensure such preservation would therefore likely be in violation of the federal requirements, though it’s not clear whether all of her personal emails – or just those related to official business – would be required.
Now there are reports that some in the White House were not even aware Clinton had a private account until the investigation into the attack on US personnel in Benghazi, Libya. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said there were some records already of Clinton’s emails given that people Clinton emailed with were using government emails. Of course, if both government officials were using private emails then those records would not exist until either or both parities submitted the emails to the government.
This entire episode is too clever by half. Clinton did not use government email because she did not want to risk the public having access to her communications. By now calling on the government to release only the emails she voluntarily disclosed after the fact is a complete smokescreen. She should release all her emails during her tenure as Secretary of State to the government and have those emails be subject to public review.