New York times
WASHINGTON — In 2012, congressional investigators asked the State Department for a wide range of documents related to the attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The department eventually responded, furnishing House committees with thousands of documents.
But it turns out that that was not everything.
The State Department had not searched the email account of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because she had maintained a private account, which shielded it from such searches, department officials acknowledged on Tuesday.
It was only last month that the House committee appointed to investigate Benghazi was provided with about 300 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails related to the attacks. That was shortly after Mrs. Clinton turned over, at the State Department’s request, some 50,000 pages of government-related emails that she had kept on her private account.
It was one of several instances in which records requests sent to the State Department, which had no access to Mrs. Clinton’s emails, came up empty.
In 2013, Nitasha Tiku, then a reporter for Gawker, filed a Freedom of Information Act request, seeking all correspondence on Mrs. Clinton’s private email account between her and Sidney Blumenthal, a close adviser and onetime staff member in the Clinton White House. Some of those emails had already spilled into public view and been reported in the news media. But the State Department told Gawker that it could find no records responsive to the request, Gawker reported.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides on Tuesday sought to play down the significance of her exclusive use of a personal email account for State Department business. But an examination of records requests sent to the department reveals how the practice protected a significant amount of her correspondence from the eyes of investigators and the public.
Mrs. Clinton’s exclusive use of personal email for her government business is unusual for a high-level official, archive experts have said. Federal regulations, since 2009, have required that all emails be preserved as part of an agency’s record-keeping system. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, her emails were kept on her personal account and her staff took no steps to have them preserved as part of State Department record.
In response to a State Department request, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, late last year, reviewed her account and decided which emails to turn over to the State Department.
The State Department says it will now search the 50,000 emails Mrs. Clinton provided in response to Freedom of Information and congressional requests.
The White House, in its first response to the news, said it frowned on the practice of officials using their personal email accounts.