A senior State Department official acknowledged on Wednesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s practice of using a personal email account on a private server was “not acceptable.”
Joyce Barr, the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer, was hit with a barrage of questions from Republicans at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, who demanded to know whether the practice of keeping emails on a private server violated federal policy.
“I think that the actions that we’ve taken in the course of recovering these emails have made it very clear what people’s responsibilities are with regard to record-keeping,” Barr said. “We continue to do training, but we’ve sent department notices, telegrams, we’ve talked to directors and I think that the message is loud and clear that that is not acceptable.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked why the department waited nearly two years after Clinton took office to first request those official emails.
“I don’t have specific information on that, but I can say that [Secretary of State John Kerry] has asked the inspector general to review that,” Barr said. “Through that review we will find out more information that can inform us as to what we should have done, what happened and from that, take lessons to make sure that records about the secretary do not get separated from the larger collection at the State Department.”
Cornyn also pressed Barr on how it was possible for her office to respond to freedom of information requests pertaining to Clinton’s correspondence before Clinton turned over her emails, which occurred last December per a State Department request.
“Well, we have them now sir,” Barr said, though she acknowledged the agency is not independently verifying whether the former secretary turned over all her officials emails.
Clinton, who is currently running for president, has asked the State Department to publicly release all 55,000 pages of email correspondence she submitted to them.
The department says they are reviewing those emails now and will release the ones that qualify for distribution under the Freedom of Information Act guidelines.
Clinton has acknowledged she withheld personal emails, though she was not legally required to archive them.
In March, Clinton said “it would have been better” to use separate personal and work email accounts, but she “opted for convenience” in using one account for both purposes.