Hillary Clinton’s email headache is far from over
Since The New York Times revealed on March 2 that the Democratic presidential front-runner exclusively used a personal email address as secretary of state, she has been battered by negative headlines and scrutiny. There were several new developments in the controversy this past week.
Republicans and many others have a number of problems with Clinton’s email practices. Top GOP leaders accused Clinton of intentionally trying to avoid disclosing shady missives. The Times said Clinton may have violated federal guidelines. And experts argued that Clinton left potentially sensitive communications vulnerable on an unsecure server.
In a chaotic, hastily-scheduled press conference last week, Clinton attempted to put the controversy behind her by forcefully insisting she did nothing wrong. She nevertheless raised eyebrows by revealing she proactively deleted about 30,000 emails she considered personal.
However, Clinton’s email controversy doesn’t seem like it will be going away anytime soon. Here’s all the latest:
The Benghazi committee
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) announced on Friday that he formally requested Clinton turn over her email server to a neutral arbiter. Gowdy chairs the House committee investigating the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which occurred while Clinton was secretary of state.
Gowdy said in a statement that he would not accept Clinton’s staff determining which emails were related to her official government duties and which were not.
“Though Secretary Clinton alone is responsible for causing this issue, she alone does not get to determine its outcome,” Gowdy said. “That is why in the interest of transparency for the American people, I am formally requesting she turn the server over to the State Department’s inspector general or a mutually agreeable third party.”
Boehner also weighs in
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) addressed the controversy on Tuesday. He also called on Clinton to turn her email server to a neutral third party in order to aid the House’s Benghazi investigation.
“The American people deserve all the facts about what happened in Benghazi. That’s why it’s so important for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to turn over her personal server to a neutral third party,” Boehner said at a press conference, according to The Hill.
Politico reported Thursday that a former federal employee is suing the government for State Department records — and discussion of Clinton’s email-retention policies made a cameo appearance.
“A lawyer … said Wednesday that he told U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan that he was concerned about the possibility that State might destroy emails relevant to the case. When the judge asked why, McClanahan said he raised the State Department practices that have come to light in recent days,” Politico’s Josh Gerstein wrote.
In a followup story on Friday, Gerstein said the Justice Department responded by arguing “the federal government had no duty under the Freedom of Information Act to produce emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent or received on a privately maintained account.”
The separation form
The State Department admitted on Tuesday that Clinton did not sign a separation form declaring she surrendered all of her official records after she left office in 2013. Signing the form is reportedly required, but not all secretaries of state have done so.
“We are fairly certain that she didn’t [sign the form] or we would have record of it,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to CNN. “We did not locate any record of either of her immediate predecessors signing this form.”
Former Secretary of State James Baker said on Friday that he signed the form when he left office in 1992. Clinton waited until the end of last year to turn over about half of her emails for archiving.
Other State Department pressure
Gerstein also reported on Tuesday that a coalition of government reform groups sent a formal letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to ensure Clinton’s email records are preserved in electronic form and are subject to FOIA requests.
“[I]t is of the utmost importance that all of former Secretary Clinton’s emails are properly preserved and transferred back to the State Department for accountability and historical record purposes,” the groups wrote in the letter, which also said they were alarmed by Clinton’s practices.
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch also submitted a court filing on Monday asking a judge to look into the State Department’s handling of the Clinton emails.
A CNN poll released on Monday indicated a majority of the American people think Clinton made a mistake by using her personal email for work purposes. They also said Clinton has to answer more questions about the matter.
A slight majority — 51% — of respondents said Clinton has at least a “somewhat serious” problem, while a 31% plurality said the email issue is “very serious.”
However, the same poll also showed that Clinton remains the dominant figure in the 2016 race. Even after the email controversy, Clinton leads all of her potential Republican opponents by 10 points or more. She leads her likely Democratic rivals by even more than that.
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