Hillary Clinton, who has not yet even declared her expected intention to run for president in 2016, was already the subject of an attempt to embroil her in a “scandal” when the New York Times Monday reported that when serving as Secretary of State, Clinton used a private email account to conduct government business.
If true, the allegations could mean that Clinton, who served as Secretary of State in the administration of President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013, attempted to circumvent transparency regulations requiring officials to use government email accounts, at which all of their correspondence is public record.
But though the Times article never specifically stated when those regulations took effect, reporters at other news outlets followed up on the story and found that the public records laws that Clinton is now accused of breaking did not exist when she held the Secretary of State’s office.
In other words, Clinton could not have broken any rules, because there were no rules to break until after she already resigned.
While the Monday Times article was vague on when the rules took effect, independent reporter Bob Cesca found that there were no such rules until President Obama signed an update to the Federal Records Act in 2014.
“The article doesn’t say which federal regulation, though. Why?… Perhaps because the federal regulations went into effect in late November, 2014[,] when President Obama signed H.R. 1233, modernizing the Federal Records Act of 1950 to include electronic communications. It was signed two years after Clinton stepped down.”
Other secretaries of state also used private email accounts, because there were no rules in place preventing them from doing so. George W. Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell, in particular, issued a statement through a spokesperson saying that he too utilized private email accounts while in office, because, “he was not aware of any restrictions nor does he recall being made aware of any over the four years he served at State.”
As it turns out, current Secretary of State John Kerry is actually the first occupant of that office to use a “state.gov” email address, according to a Tuesday report in the Washington Post.
New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt appeared on the MSNBC Morning Joe program Tuesday in an attempt to clarify the story, insisting that “explicit regulations were in place when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State that said they had to be retaining her emails on government servers in an active sense.”
But Schmidt still did not specify which regulations Clinton supposedly broke. When asked why he felt that the alleged email violations by Hillary Clinton were a worthy news story even though Colin Powell did the same thing, Schmidt could only reply, “Colin Powell’s not running for president.”
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