IG Report Quotes From Never-Released Clinton Email Showing She Worried About Privacy, Not Convenience

By Susan Jones | May 26, 2016 | 6:35am EDT
Hillary Clinton and her team ignored clear guidance from the State Department that her email setup broke federal standards and could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers, a department audit has found. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The State Department has released thousands of work-related emails that Hillary Clinton finally turned over to that agency, but not the email quoted by the State Department's inspector general, where Clinton talks about her reluctance to put her personal emails at risk of public disclosure.

A reporter on Wednesday quoted from that email, then asked the State Department where they got it -- and why it wasn't made public before this.

The email in question was sent to Clinton on Nov. 10, 2010 by her deputy chief of staff, who wrote: "We should talk about putting you on State email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam."

Clinton responded: "Let's get separate address or device, but I don't want the risk of personal [email] being accessible."

On Wednesday, the reporter, Justin Fishel of ABC News, told the State Department at a background briefing, "I couldn't find that in the FOIA'd release documentation, so I'm curious where you got that email and why it isn't public."

One of two State Department officials, speaking on background, responded: "With respect to...the e-mail that you were referencing, I don't think I know exactly where we obtained that e-mail. I think you are correct that it is not in the e-mails that we put online. We do have it; it is in our custody. But as to why we wouldn't have it from Secretary Clinton in what she turned over, I would have to refer you to her and her team on that."

Fishel followed up: "Well, but all her...work-related e-mails were supposed to be turned over. So did she -- I don't understand. Did she not turn them all over? Are there e-mails we're not seeing? I mean...can you answer why we would be seeing e-mails now in an IG report that we did not see in the FOIA releases? I really don't understand that."

"I can take that. And I apologize if I didn’t – if I wasn’t clear," the same State Department official responded. "Secretary Clinton has said both to us and in a court filing that she turned over work-related e-mails that she had in her possession. There are instances, and they're identified in the OIG report, where people are aware of e-mails that involved her that she did not turn over.

"The fact that she has said she's turned over what she had -- and through other preservation and reviews we've identified additional e-mails -- and we only put online through the FOIA process what Secretary Clinton turned over -- to the extent that the OIG found an additional e-mail, that's not inconsistent with what we'd expect."

The State Department official said he could offer no explanation about why Secretary Clinton didn't use the state.gov email system and why she didn't seek approval for setting up a personal server in her home: "Unfortunately, I don't think we can speak to that, and we'd have to refer you to Secretary Clinton and her team. The OIG report does not get into that and doesn't make findings with respect to that."

Later on Wednesday, at an on-the-record State Department briefing, a reporter asked if "all of Secretary Clinton's emails in the State Department's possession" have been released to the public, or if the emails not specifically covered by FOIA requests have been withheld.

"So what we have released through our monthly FOIA process that all of you love so much was approximately 55,000 pages of emails that Secretary Clinton provided to the Department," spokesman Mark Toner replied.

"She did not keep work-related emails beyond those she turned over to the Department. So in answer to your question, we’ve – what we’ve done through the FOIA process is turn over all of the emails that she turned over to the State Department. And we have found additional things," Toner added, mentioning "replies" to Clinton's emails.

"How many do you estimate that you have that have not been made public?" the reporter asked

"I don’t think we have an estimate, and I don’t think it’s a large number. I just think that there are stray examples like this."

"Okay," the reporter said. "Because some of them seem to be quite relevant, as in this November 2010 email in which one of her chief – deputy chiefs of staff suggests she set up a state.gov account."

According to the 83-page OIG report leaked on Wednesday (and officially released on Thursday), the State Department OIG "did find evidence that various staff and senior officials throughout the Department had discussions related to the Secretary’s use of non-Departmental systems, suggesting there was some awareness of Secretary Clinton’s practices."

Among the examples, the OIG report lists the email mentioned above, as follows:

--In November 2010, Secretary Clinton and her Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations discussed the fact that Secretary Clinton’s emails to Department employees were not being received. The Deputy Chief of Staff emailed the Secretary that “we should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.” In response, the Secretary wrote, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”

The reporter told Toner on Wednesday that the Nov. 10 email "seemed relevant to her decision to keep a private email rather than use a state.gov one, which is essentially the entire (FOIA) question. So I’m just wondering if you are interested in releasing any of those emails relevant to this whole discussion about her email --"

"I can’t speak to that," Toner said. "We certainly – if there’s additional FOIA requests, we would --"

"There may be" additional FOIA requests, "if there aren’t already," the reporter said.

At a news conference in March 2015, Clinton said she used a personal email account and a personal server for "convenience."

"When I got to work as Secretary of State, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry one device for my work and personal email instead of two," she said. "At the time, this didn't seem like an issue."

Notably, unlike previous secretaries of state, Clinton refused to meet with the State Department Office of Inspector General as part of the investigation into the department's handling of emails.

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