Factcheck.org Shows Clinton Told Several Lies During CNN Interview

Clinton Email

While Hillary Clinton generally evaded answering questions during her interview on CNN, she did repeat the same lies she previously told about her use of a private email server, added a new lie, and was also corrected by Factcheck.org for an incorrect statement she made about Republicans on immigration. They first summarized some of her incorrect statements on the email scandal:

As for her use of personal emails to conduct official business, Clinton made a few comments that distorted the facts:

  • Clinton said she went “above and beyond” in complying with a State Department request to turn over work-related emails, saying, “I didn’t have to turn over anything.” However, federal regulations and department guidelines required her to preserve important work emails before she left office, and she did not.

  • Twice Clinton said that previous “secretaries of state” did the “same thing,” using the plural “secretaries” to defend her use of her personal email account. But the State Department has said only Colin Powell used a personal email account for official business.

  • Twice Clinton said that she had “one device” for sending emails, explaining she is “not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.” But, in addition to her Blackberry, she occasionally used an iPad to send emails, copies of her publicly released emails show.

The full article contained further information on her distortion on immigration and on the email:

Clinton, who was secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013, also discussed her exclusive use of a personal email account when sending and receiving emails about official government business. Her unusual email arrangement, which included the use of a private email server, became public in March — several months after the State Department in October 2014 sent letters to the last four secretaries of state requesting any work-related emails that they may still have in their possession.

Clinton’s office has said she turned over 30,490 printed copies of emails totaling about 55,000 pages — estimating that more than 90 percent of those emails went to federal employees on the government email system. It also said that 31,830 “private, personal records” were destroyed.

Clinton, July 7: “Now, I didn’t have to turn over anything. I chose to turn over 55,000 pages because I wanted to go above and beyond what was expected of me because I knew the vast majority of everything that was official already was in the State Department system.”

We asked the Clinton campaign what she meant when she said that she “didn’t have to turn over anything” to the State Department. It referred us to a previous statement released by Clinton’s office, specifically an excerpt that explained how Clinton complied with the department’s request.

But that didn’t answer our question. And the fact is that Clinton should have preserved the emails before she left office.

The State Department policy on preserving emails dates to 1995 after the National Archives and Records Administration issued government-wide regulations on emails. The NARA issued its final rule on Aug. 28, 1995, saying “agencies must put into place policies and procedures that ensure that e-mail records are identified and preserved.”

Two months later, the State Department updated its Foreign Affairs Manual to include policies for preserving emails.

Under a section titled “Principles Governing E-Mail Communications,” the manual said, “All employees must be aware that some of the variety of the messages being exchanged on E-mail are important to the Department and must be preserved; such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” Under a section titled “How to Preserve E-Mail Records,” the manual said: “Until technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage and retrieval of E-mail messages is available and installed, those messages warranting preservation as records (for periods longer than current E-mail systems routinely maintain them) must be printed out and filed with related records.”

In 2009, NARA specifically addressed the issue of emails “created or received outside of official electronic systems maintained” by the federal government, according to Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle and a former director of litigation at the National Archives.

In a letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Baron quoted from the 2009 NARA regulations: “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

The NARA regulations also require federal departments and agencies to maintain an NARA-approved schedule for the disposition of federal records, including emails sent and received from personal email accounts.

The State Department says its Records Disposition Schedule “provides mandatory instructions for the retention and disposition (retirement or destruction) of each records series based on their temporary or permanent status.” Chapter 1 of the schedule covers the secretary of state. It says, under “Secretary’s Miscellaneous Correspondence File,” that “incoming and outgoing correspondence and memorandums on substantive U.S. foreign policy issues” should be permanently retained “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary.”

In an email to us, Baron wrote that Clinton had a “duty” to turn over her emails, even after she left office.

“One might interpret Secretary Clinton’s remarks [on CNN] as her saying that there was no court order or subpoena to turn emails relating to government business back to the State Department after she left office, and so she acted within her discretion in doing so,” he wrote. “But the fact that she acted in response to an informal letter request from State rather than under more formal legal compulsion doesn’t change the fact that she had a continuing duty to return government records into government custody at all times since leaving her position as Secretary of State.”

Clinton has taken the position that she complied with department policy because “the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”

Baron, in his letter to the Judiciary Committee, disagreed. He said it is an “erroneous assumption” that emails “sent to or received from a ‘.gov’ address, are being automatically preserved ‘somewhere’ in a federal agency.” He said, “Very few federal agencies have implemented an automated system for archiving email.”

“For example, at the State Department, the so-called ‘SMART’ system apparently has been used in a fashion (at least until recently) where only a tiny percentage of e-mail communications were tagged as records in an electronic archive repository,” Baron wrote.

The State Department has said that Secretary John Kerry’s emails are now automatically preserved, but that was not the case under Clinton.

In her interview, Clinton also said that “[p]revious secretaries of state have said they did the same thing.” And then later, she again said, “And as I said, prior secretaries of state — I mean, Secretary Powell has admitted he did exactly the same thing.”

Clinton is mistaken in her use of the plural “secretaries,” and Powell didn’t do “exactly the same thing.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said that the department sent letters to previous secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Only Powell used personal email for official business…

Although Powell did acknowledge that he used personal email for official business, there’s no evidence that he — or any other previous secretary of state — maintained emails on a personal server.

As she has said in the past, Clinton suggested that she did not use a government email account because that would have required carrying around two devices.

Clinton said “people across the government knew that I used one device — maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.” She later said, “I had one device. When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system.”

She did not have one device for sending emails. She had two — a Blackberry and an iPad — according to the Clinton emails released so far by the State Department…

One last thing about Clinton’s interview with CNN. Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, issued a statement and held a press conference saying Clinton was wrong when she said, “I’ve never had a subpoena.”

As Gowdy pointed out, Clinton did receive a House subpoena on March 4, and it was wellreported. But Clinton’s denial came in response to a question about deleting emails “while facing a subpoena,” and Clinton objected to Keiler’s “assumption.” Clinton’s campaign said that the emails were deleted before she received the subpoena and that was the point Clinton was making.

The Wall Street Journal posted more concise fact-checking with essentially the same conclusions about Clinton’s false statements about her use of a private email server in violation of the rules.

Update: The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Clinton Three Pinoccios for her claims regarding the email.

As I have previously discussed, fact check sites have similarly found Clinton’s statements at her press conference on the email to be false. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable. An ambassador under Clinton was even fired with failure to abide by rules related to not using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here). Buzzfeed obtained email showing that the  top lawyer for the National Archives also expressed concern over Clinton’s use of a private server.

Commentary has an editorial on Hillary Clinton’s Lies which offers a preview of what Democrats will face should Clinton win the nomination.