State Department’s account of e-mail request differs from Clinton’s
Throughout the controversy over her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton has described her decision last year to turn over thousands of work-related e-mails as a response to a routine-sounding records request.
“When we were asked to help the State Department make sure they had everything from other secretaries of state, not just me, I’m the one who said, ‘Okay, great, I will go through them again,’ ” Clinton said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And we provided all of them.”
But State Department officials provided new information Tuesday that undercuts Clinton’s characterization. They said the request was not simply about general record-keeping but was prompted entirely by the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private e-mail system. They also said they first contacted her in the summer of 2014, at least three months before the agency asked Clinton and three of her predecessors to provide their e-mails.
“In the process of responding to congressional document requests pertaining to Benghazi, State Department officials recognized that it had access to relatively few email records from former Secretary Clinton,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement e-mailed to The Washington Post. “State Department officials contacted her representatives during the summer of 2014 to learn more about her email use and the status of emails in that account.”
Kirby added that the agency then recognized “that we similarly did not have extensive email records from prior Secretaries of State and therefore included them when we requested their records in October 2014.”
The State Department also realized it was not automatically preserving internal communications, with some other senior officials’ e-mails missing.
The discrepancy between Clinton’s timetable and the new information from the State Department prompted a terse letter Tuesday from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, who has been investigating whether Clinton’s e-mail practices compromised national security.