National Security

State Dept. months late on explaining Clinton aide’s missing emails


The State Department is months behind on a request that it explain how a former IT aide’s emails appeared to have disappeared, and Republicans are crying foul.

Documents obtained by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and given to ABC News on Wednesday reportedly show that the State Department has not responded to a July request from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) despite a demand that it do so within 30 days.

{mosads}The missing emails are from Bryan Pagliano, an IT worker responsible for many aspects of the private email setup Hillary Clinton used during her time as secretary of State.

In May, the State Department said that it did not have Pagliano’s email archive, prompting outrage from the Obama administration’s critics. It’s unclear whether Pagliano deleted his emails or they went missing through some other means.

Despite the missing archive, the department has located some emails that Pagliano sent or received through the email accounts of other government staffers.

The National Archives, which has broad responsibilities for federal record storage, asked the State Department to describe the steps it has taken to recover Pagliano’s emails this summer. So far, officials have not responded.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department is “still in the process” of responding to the letter.

“As we have publicly explained months ago, the department has searched for Mr. Pagliano’s email pst file and has not located one that covers the time period of Secretary Clinton’s tenure,” Kirby said in a statement, referring to a file type for storing emails. He noted that department employees’ emails are not always stored automatically, “so the absence of this email file does not necessarily indicate that Mr. Pagliano intentionally deleted his emails.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus accused the Obama administration of orchestrating a “cover-up” in order to help Clinton. 

“The State Department is clearly stonewalling another federal agency’s efforts to recover the emails of the IT staffer who set up Clinton’s illegal server and was granted immunity by the FBI,” Priebus told ABC News. “If this isn’t an Obama administration cover-up to protect Hillary Clinton, I don’t know what is.”

Jason Miller, a spokesman for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, said the State Department was “refusing to hand over” the records, which he called “deeply distressing” and said “makes one wonder exactly what they are trying to keep secret.”

“The State Department must release these documents immediately as the American people have a right to know what is contained within those documents before Election Day,” Miller said.

The RNC obtained the correspondence from NARA through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“There is no stonewalling and there is no cover-up,” retorted Kirby in a second statement issued later Wednesday morning.

“I think a little context is important here,” he added, noting that the State Department has turned over nearly 900 pages of Pagliano’s emails. “We are well aware of the workload before us, and we are trying to manage that as best we can. You can take issue with how fast we’re rowing, but not the motivation here at State to keep the oars in the water.”

Pagliano received an immunity deal from the Justice Department in exchange for cooperating with the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s private email setup, which ultimately did not result in any charges.

He has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to questioning from Congress and conservative watchdog Judicial Watch. The House Oversight Committee subsequently voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, but a vote by the full chamber was delayed until after Election Day.

The State Department has struggled with record management issues outside of Clinton’s email issues. In his earlier statement on Wednesday, Kirby noted that the emails of Secretary John Kerry and other senior staffers are being automatically archived.

–This report was updated at 2:46 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton John Kerry Republican National Committee

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