Tags: Trump Administration | Benghazi Scandal | Hillary Clinton | Jeb Bush | Hillary Clinton | Republicans | reaction

Republicans Slam Hillary Over Private Email Use at State Dept

By    |   Tuesday, 03 March 2015 08:14 PM

Republicans slammed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over reports that she only used personal email accounts during her four years at the State Department, citing it as another huge flaw in claims of transparency by President Barack Obama.

California Rep. Darrell Issa hearkened back to the infamous question an irate Clinton asked during intense questioning by Congress into the September 2012 deaths of four Americans at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

"It seems many of my Democrat colleagues are echoing Hillary Clinton’s infamous outburst regarding Benghazi, 'What difference does it make!?' after stories surfaced that Clinton, as secretary of state, took deliberative steps to hide her communications by using only a personal email address," Issa said.

"The reason it matters is simple: It is the law," Issa said. "The Federal Records Act obligates Secretary Clinton to preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the State Department, including essential transactions of the organization. She failed to do so.

"The use of a personal email address to skirt public records laws, aside from failing to meet the security standards one would expect of the nation’s top diplomat, enabled Clinton to shield her official communications from scrutiny by the media and the American public.

"This latest revelation from the so-called 'most transparent administration ever' shouldn’t surprise anyone," Issa said.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter referenced the investigation that led to revelations that former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson used a secret email account under the alias of "Richard Windsor" during her tenure.

"At this point, President Obama’s claim of leading 'the most transparent administration in history' is certainly laughable," Vitter said, saying that both Clinton and Jackson "went out of their way to hide their emails from federal records laws and the American public.

"It should go without saying that the president’s very top officials should not be leading efforts to avoid transparency laws in order to avoid oversight and accountability, including Freedom of Information Act requests," Vitter said.

Clinton, who is weighing a run for the White House in 2016, always used her personal email account during her four years at the State Department, rather than a government-issued email address. Her actions may have hampered efforts to archive official government documents required by law.

The former secretary's office said Tuesday that nothing was illegal or improper about her use of the nongovernment account — and that her business emails to State Department and other dot-gov accounts would be archived in accordance with government rules.

"Like secretaries of state before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials," Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said. "For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained.

"When the department asked former secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes," Merrill said.

"Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use nongovernment email, as long as appropriate records were preserved," he said.

For Clinton, the new developments, first reported by The New York Times, raised concerns that she could be exposed to legal challenges and left her open to more damaging allegations of evasiveness and political plotting as she considers a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The White House said it had given Obama administration employees "very specific guidance" to "use their official email accounts when they're conducting official government business," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

He added, however, that Clinton did not necessarily break the rules.

"When there are situations where personal email accounts are used, it is important for those records to be preserved," Earnest said.

But Republicans quickly pounced on the reports, saying that using the private account demonstrated that Clinton would do anything to safeguard her political ambitions.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took to Twitter to call for Clinton to release all her emails from her State Department tenure. Bush, who also in considering a presidential bid, released nearly 300,000 emails from his eight years as governor in recent months.

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and another possible GOP contender, said in one of two messages she posted on Twitter:

America Rising, the GOP super PAC, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Clinton's emails, calling it "an intentional and unlawful effort by Secretary Clinton to hide all correspondence from the government."

The group has also called on the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to return contributions it has accepted from foreign governments.

Referring to the foundation issue, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus asked: "It makes you wonder: Did she use the private emails so she could conduct diplomacy and fundraising at the same time?"

The RNC also released a video entitled, "America Can't Trust Clinton."

Watch the video here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republicans slammed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over reports that she only used personal email accounts during her four years at the State Department, citing it as another huge flaw in claims of transparency by President Obama.
Hillary Clinton, Republicans, reaction, private, email, account, secretary of state, department
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 08:14 PM
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