Republicans Wednesday ripped Hillary Clinton after a State Department Inspector General’s review concluded that the former secretary of state ignored the agency’s clear guidelines regarding the use of her private email and server — with New York Rep. Peter King calling it “a very scathing report.”
“This does rebut so much of what Hillary Clinton was saying: that people knew what she was doing, there was no issue, this was not in violation of State Department practices and procedures,” King told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. “This is not coming from some right-wing group.
“This is coming from, again, an inspector general appointed by the president,” King said. “We’re not talking about anybody from the right wing or any conservative or Republican.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Clinton “deliberately” violated federal rules with the server.
“This report underscores what we already know about Hillary Clinton: she simply cannot be trusted,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement.
“Think about this, the highest ranking diplomat in the United States — the secretary of State — deliberately broke agency policy to serve her own interests,” he added. “Her use of a private email server not only violated department policies, but it was also a clear security risk.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that the report from the department’s inspector general was “just the latest chapter in the long saga of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment that broke federal rules and endangered our national security.
“This detailed inquiry by an Obama appointee makes clear Hillary Clinton hasn’t been telling the truth since day one, and her and her aides’ refusal to cooperate with this probe only underscores that fact.
“Although Clinton has long claimed her practices were like those of other secretaries of state and allowed, the report states she was in clear violation of the Federal Records Act,” Priebus said. “And her incredible 2010 email exchange with a top aide ruling out a State Department email address only further underscores her motivation was secrecy, not convenience.
“The stakes are too high in this election to entrust the White House to someone with as much poor judgment and reckless disregard for the law as Hillary Clinton.”
The department’s inspector general found that Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, broke federal standards regarding her private email use — and that the disregard could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers.
Her aides twice brushed aside concerns, in one case telling technical staff “the matter was not to be discussed further,” according to the report.
In addition, the inspector general also found that hacking attempts forced Clinton off email once in 2011, despite her insisting that her personal server had never been breached.
Clinton and several senior staffers declined to be interviewed for the State Department investigation.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Democratic presidential front-runner, said that the 78-page report showed that problems with the State Department’s electronic record-keeping systems “were longstanding” and emphasized that the former first lady’s use of a private email server “was known to officials within the department during her tenure.”
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the special House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks, said that the inspector general’s report has brought these facts to light because of “congressional oversight.”
“There is only one reason why these facts are now available to the American people: thorough congressional oversight, including the Select Committee on Benghazi’s insistence that any truly comprehensive review of what happened before, during, and after the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya must include public records from the former Secretary of State and her senior staff,” Gowdy said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said that Clinton needed to “come clean” about her email use and noted that she did not agree to be interviewed in the investigation.
“We have inspectors general, nonpartisan, they rely on going under the hood, [being] able to interview past secretaries of state,” the Utah Republican told Fox News.
From Madeline Albright to Colin Powell to John Kerry, secretaries of state have cooperated with the inspector general’s investigation, Chaffetz said.
“The only secretary of state that refused to be interviewed through her counsel was Secretary Clinton,” he said.
Clinton “created this vulnerability,” Chaffetz added. “She needs to come clean” — and could have done so during the inquiry.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is advising presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on national security issues, said that the report proved that Clinton had a “systemic plan to avoid security.”
“That is totally unacceptable, contrary to what she said she was doing,” Sessions, who chairs the Senate Armed Service and National Security Advisory committees, told Fox News.
“She said she was totally cooperating on this,” he added. “This is a troubling event that casts credibility on Hillary Clinton.
“She said she was fully cooperating and this rejects that.”
King told Mitchell that the report made ideal fodder for Trump during the presidential campaign.
“This is what Donald Trump should be focusing on — not having to exaggerate, not having to go back 15 to 20 years,” he said. “Focus on this, what was wrong with it, why Hillary Clinton did the wrong thing, why this couldn’t put security at risk.
“That’s what he should be focusing on. There were enough legitimate issues.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.