Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump puts pressure on GOP Congress Poll: Former Sanders staffer gains steam in race to replace Xavier Becerra Michael Moore: Trump will ‘absolutely’ ban Muslims MORE’s use of a personal email account run through a private server was "not acceptable" and happened without officials’ knowledge, a top State Department record-keeper said on Wednesday.
“I think the message is loud and clear that that is not acceptable,” Joyce Barr, the State Department’s assistant secretary for the Bureau of Administration, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Clinton’s use of the private email server has enraged Republicans and government transparency advocates, who fear it allowed one of the nation’s top officials to keep her messages secret. The behavior was not revealed just a few months ago, more than a year after Clinton left the State Department, and as she began laying the groundwork for a White House run.
“These kinds of things just absolutely undermine the confidence of the American people,” said Sen. Thom TillisThom R. TillisJustice reform a sticking point between Sessions and Senate GOP Cruz, DeSantis push for congressional term limits Republicans add three to Banking Committee MORE (R-N.C.). “It was a bad decision. I hope that we go so far as to say that, if you do this in the future, you get fired.”
Worse, he said, Clinton’s email practices were likely indicative of broader misuse of records preservation within the government.
“If the person at the top is doing it, then you can pretty much count on the reality that over some period of time, people at every level of the agency have,” Tillis said.
While it might not have violated the letter of the law while Clinton was in office, her email use nonetheless struck many as a clear evasion of its spirit.
“What really bothers me is when people plan, in a premeditated and deliberate sort of way, to avoid the Freedom of Information Act and federal government requirements that require them to make public information available to the public,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate panel sets vote on Sessions for AG Obama commutes Chelsea Manning's sentence Report: Concealed-carry permit holders have killed hundreds since 2007 MORE (R-Texas) said on Wednesday.
Barr told lawmakers she had “no information” about how Clinton used the private server and was “not aware of the practice” ahead of time.
Clinton has said that she had determined that roughly half of the 60,000 emails sent through her personal account were official government business and should be turned over to the government for safekeeping. The rest of them were deleted, she said.
However, that determination was made by Clinton’s team alone, Barr acknowledged, and federal officials essentially have to take her word that all relevant communications are in the government's hands.
“We have been told that she has provided those to us,” she said.
The State Department has previously said Clinton did not send or receive classified emails through her personal email account, and the former top diplomat has also attempted to reassure the public about the security of the system.
Still, many outside analysts remain unconvinced about the security of the system, which would seem to invite hackers from foreign nations and criminal groups.
Barr said she did “not have information” about the security protocols, and was “perhaps” concerned about its possible vulnerability.
“Well, I would hope it would concern all of us,” Cornyn responded. “I’ll just tell you it concerns me a lot.”