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Inspector General:

Clinton Violated Government Email Rules

| published May 25, 2016 |

By Keith H. Roberts, Thursday Review contributor

As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton violated Federal standards and Department of State rules regarding emails she sent and received during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.

A newly-released report by the Inspector General, now months overdue as investigators slogged through data and information, slams Clinton for multiple violations of strict cyber security guidelines, as well as violation of Federal policy regarding record-keeping and dissemination of correspondence. The IG was sharply critical also of Clinton’s controversial arrangement whereby she used a privately-crafted server and a private email account—a clear break with the conditions of the Federal Records Act.

The IG report said that Clinton should have never been allowed to maintain a private server in her home for the purposes of managing government correspondence, and said that as Secretary of State she violated Federal law by using a personal email account to send and receive emails.

Clinton has steadfastly denied that any secret or sensitive data was ever sent or received using the private email account or the so-called homebrew server, but several investigations have concluded—not without controversy—that some of Clinton’s thousands of emails did in fact contain information deemed sensitive or secret. And though it has not yet been confirmed by law enforcement officials, 60 Minutes and several other U.S. and British media sources have reported that a so-called superhacker now serving time in a Romanian jail has evidence that he successfully hacked into Clinton’s email account during her last year as Secretary of State.

The Inspector General’s report contradicts Clinton’s long held claim that she broke no rules and violated no laws with her use of the private email account. After months of mounting pressure in the press, Clinton reluctantly apologized to some reporters for her use of the privately-crafted email account and the homebrew server, but has insisted that top U.S. secrets were never in danger. Clinton has also conceded that she used bad judgment with the arrangement, though she and her campaign surrogates have said repeatedly that there were no prohibitions on using an email account outside of those set up by the State Department and its IT components.

Emails and servers are covered under the terms and provision of the Federal Records Act, which requires that all government employees use only those email accounts established and assigned by agency for which one is employed.

The IG report also reveals that State Department tech staff attempted to raise a red flag over Clinton’s unorthodox use of the private email and the private server as early as 2009 and again in 2010, but that those employees were advised to drop the matter and remain quiet on the issue. The IG report indicates that Clinton’s top staffers at State applied pressure on the IT staff to make the email arrangement work, and requested that no further questions be raised as to why Clinton would be allowed the exceptional system of maintaining an offsite server.

Several State Department technology staffers told the IG that upon raising concerns about Clinton’s email account and server, they were told that a top attorney and legal advisor for State had cleared the arrangement for Clinton. The IG report said that what the staffers was told was untrue: there is no record of any legal advisor at State clearing Clinton to use the private email account or the offsite server.

Clinton has also defended the server by explaining that it was, at all times, carefully protected by the U.S. Secret Service, as agents patrolled her property 24 hours a day—a benefit extended because her husband once served as President. But in statements by the Secret Service, officials have said that most protection detail agents are not specifically trained in cyber-security, and that the agency did not make any guarantees regarding the safety of the server.

The report comes at a bad time for Clinton and her Presidential campaign. Clinton, who is now closing-in on the required number of delegates to win at the Democratic National Convention, is seeking to finally bring an end to rival Bernie Sanders’ insurgent progressive campaign challenge. Sanders, a Vermont Senator and a self-described Democratic socialist, has said publicly he intends to fight all the way to the convention. Clinton has been attempting to pivot her message toward the challenge she is already facing from Republican nominee-apparent businessman Donald Trump.

Clinton and Trump have been waging a bitter war of words in recent days, with Trump attacking Clinton on all fronts, including assaulting her for the sexual misdeeds of husband Bill Clinton when he served as President.

The IG report concluded that Secretary Clinton put sensitive data and critical State Department correspondence at grave risk through the use of a private email account developed merely for the sake of personal convenience.

The investigation also blasted the former Secretary of State for her personal choice to delete thousands of emails, which she has maintained were of a personal nature. It also pointed to official policy regarding the use of emails and government correspondence, and said that Clinton’s actions posed a serious security risk to information and data.

Despite the damning nature of the report and its conclusions, the Clinton campaign nevertheless fired back with what it said was evidence that Clinton had done nothing wrong. The campaign also sought to continue to paint the narrative in political and partisan terms.

“Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now,” campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon said in an email, “the report notes that her use of a personal email was known to officials within the department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server.”

Related Thursday Review articles:

Ash Carter Used Private Email for Pentagon Business; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; December 17, 2016.

Hillary Clinton's Email Woes; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; August 14, 2015.