Report says her aides shielded secret account from public
By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times – Updated: 9:16 a.m. on Thursday, January 7, 2016
The top leadership of the State Department regularly botched open-records requests such as those for former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s emails, the department’s inspector general said in a report released Thursday that portrayed a staff who gave short shrift to its legal obligation to be transparent.
Department leaders ignored one request for Mrs. Clinton’s schedules “for several years,” and in another instance insisted it couldn’t find any records relating to Mrs. Clinton’s other emails — even though at the time, “dozens of senior officials” were aware of her unique email arrangement.
The inspector general said Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff at the time, Cheryl Mills, who knew about her email account and server she kept at her New York home, was made aware of the request for information, but didn’t take any steps to clear the matter up or reveal the email account.
Things are bad that 177 requests for documents from Mrs. Clinton, who left office three years ago, are still pending, the inspector general said.
And even as requests for information increased, the inspector general said the State Department cut the number of people processing them — adding to what seemed to outsiders to be a veil of secrecy surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s activities at the department.
The inspector general detailed some of the key instances when the department gave bad answers about Mrs. Clinton’s records, including the case of Mrs. Clinton’s schedules, which The Associated Press repeatedly requested, and finally had to sue to obtain; several requests by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm, where the department initially withheld documents it should have provided; and the request by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that sought information on Mrs. Clinton’s email accounts.
That CREW request was filed in December 2012, just before Mrs. Clinton left office, and specifically asked whether Mrs. Clinton used anon-State.gov email account for government business.
In May 2013 the department responded that it had “no records” responsive to the request — even though Mrs. Clinton emails thousands of messages to other department employees from her account, and all of those records should have been available.
“[D]ozens of senior officials throughout the Department, including members of Secretary Clinton’s immediate staff, exchanged emails with the Secretary using the personal accounts she used to conduct official business,” the investigation concluded. “OIG found evidence that the Secretary’s then-Chief of Staff was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up. However, OIG found no evidence to indicate that any of these senior officials reviewed the search results or approved the response to CREW.”
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