Darrell Issa asked Hillary Clinton about her personal email use in 2012 – Politico
A House committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more than two years ago asking if she used a personal email account for official business, but never received a direct answer to the question.
The correspondence — first reported Tuesday night by The New York Times — shows Rep. Darrell Issa asked Clinton about her personal email use on Dec. 13, 2012, writing in his capacity as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
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“Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business?” Issa wrote Clinton. “If so, please identify the account used.”
The letter also asked another question that turns out to be a pointed one in light of Clinton’s acknowledgement last month that she left office with tens of thousands of work-related emails in a personal account and did not provide copies to her former agency until last year, after an official there asked four former secretaries to turn over any such records.
“Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using nonofficial accounts?” Issa asked in one of a series of eight questions sent to agency chiefs and obtained by POLITICO.
At the end of January 2013, about six weeks after the letter was sent, Clinton stepped down as secretary. The letter was answered in March of that year by State Department legislative affairs official Thomas Gibbons, who didn’t say whether Clinton had used personal email as secretary.
Gibbons said any State employee “should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.”
Issa’s letter to Clinton, who formally announced her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, was one of a round of more than a dozen such inquiries he sent to agency chiefs across the government after it was disclosed that officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and elsewhere had conducted official business on private email accounts and government email accounts created under fake names.
Former Issa aide Kurt Bardella said State’s response fuels questions about Clinton’s handling of her email as secretary.
“Why did the State Department wait until after Secretary Clinton left office to respond to the Issa letter? Were Secretary Clinton’s efforts to deliberately conceal her official activities through use of her private email prompted by then-Chairman Issa’s request?” Bardella asked. “As is status quo with the Clintons, there are far more questions than answers and it’s likely that these revelations of her secrecy are just the tip of the iceberg.”
A State Department spokesman defended the agency’s response.
“The Department responds to thousands of Congressional inquiries and requests for information each year,” spokesman Alec Gerlach said in a statement. “In its March 2013 letter, the Department responded to the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into the Department’s ‘policies and practices regarding the use of personal e-mail and other forms of electronic communications’ with a letter that described those policies in detail. We continue to work closely with Congress on various issues on the Department’s policies and procedures.”
The emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in paper form in December totaled about 55,000 pages. She said at her news conference last month that she deleted another set of emails, which aides said was of comparable size, after her lawyers concluded they were not work-related.
State Department officials have pledged to publicly release a redacted version of the emails Clinton turned over. That process is expected to take several months, but officials have declined to commit to a specific date.
Lauren French contributed to this report.