[Insert “imagine if this was a Republican” here]
The plot thickens.
Monday, the New York Times broke the story about Hillary Clinton’s little email problem. The former Secretary of State used a personal email account the entire time she served as DOS’s top dog. As Professor Jacobson pointed out yesterday, use of personal email for state business appears to be in violation of record keeping rules.
This morning, the Associated Press reported that not only was Clinton using a personal email account, she was running the account from servers located in her home (emphasis added):
The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.
The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
The AP report suggests Clinton was using the server to navigate around transparency:
Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.
And then there’s this ghost that ran Clinton’s servers:
It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.
Created just days before she was sworn in as Secretary of State, the evolution of Clinton’s private email is also interesting. One might even say it’s telling.
In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.
Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.
Things that happened in November 2012? President Obama and Secretary Clinton received letters from House members requesting responses for oversight questions that probed the Benghazi tragedy. The Senate turned up the heat when they began pushing for a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi. But I’m sure that’s just coincidence.
Clinton and the DOS have a nasty reputation for stonewalling FOIA requests (Freedom Of Information Act).
In theory but not in practice, Clinton’s official emails would be accessible to anyone who requested copies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Since Clinton effectively retained control over emails in her private account even after she resigned in 2013, the government would have to negotiate with Clinton to turn over messages it can’t already retrieve from the inboxes of federal employees she emailed.
The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.
The Free Beacon’s FOIA warrior, CJ Ciaramella, wrote about the Clinton transparency problem in December when a reporter from Vice News sued the State department for failure to release records from Clinton’s tenure.
Jason Leopold, an investigate reporter for Vice News, alleges in his FOIA lawsuit that the State Department failed to give a final response to his records request and also denied his request for expedited processing. Leopold filed the request, seeking all records on Clinton maintained by the department, in November 2014.
Many news agencies and advocacy groups have been trying to get State Department documents about Clinton with little success, leading to accusations that the stonewall is politically motivated.
The AP reported in December 2014 that it had several outstanding FOIA requests on Clinton’s schedule, calendar, and other records from her four years as secretary of state. One of those requests was over four years old. The state department also rejected the AP’s request for expedited processing—a fast-track for FOIA requests afforded to journalists working on newsworthy stories in the public interest.
Regarding both Leopold and AP’s requests, the State Department determined that records on a former secretary of state who is almost surely running for president in 2016 were not in the public interest.
…Bloomberg reported in July 2014 that the State Department had failed respond to requests on travel costs for senior officials. According to Bloomberg, one of its reporters filed a FOIA request in 2012 for information on gifts to and from foreign dignitaries. After the deadline for responding to the request passed, a State Department FOIA officer told the reporter over the phone to “Go ahead and sue” before hanging up.
Fox and Friends has the run down:
An interesting tidbit buried in the AP report is Clinton’s email address itself. Despite the domain (clintonemail.com), Clinton used her maiden name. Immaterial? Probably. Interesting? Yes.
Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account — [email protected], which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym — for official State Department business.
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