Report: Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email for Government Business as Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton
The real scandal is about journalism and the weak standards employed to manufacture headlines. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used her personal email address for official government business during her four years in that role, according to a report from the New York Times. Clinton did not have a government email set up during that time.

In accordance with the Federal Records Act, the emails of state employees are required to be archived. Clinton's staff did not archive her emails on state servers in real time, according to the Times report. Instead, the archiving process began just two months ago.

The Federal Records Act requires emails be archived and accessible to members of the government, historians and media. Reporters often file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain official government correspondences. Because Clinton kept her emails outside of this system, such requests could not be fulfilled. On Monday, members of the press took to social media to note that they had not received answers to FOIA requests for Clinton's emails.

A Clinton spokesperson told the Timesthat although Clinton used her personal email in a professional capacity, she followed the "letter and spirit of the rules." According to the Times, Clinton's advisers chose which of her emails—there were tens of thousands of pages in total—to turn over to the State Department. Some 55,000 pages of emails were eventually turned over. It is unclear how many emails there were in total before the staff went through them.

"It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," a former litigator for the National Archives and Records Administration told the Times.

The Times noted that other government officials have used their personal email addresses in cases of emergencies or technology outages.

Outside of the record-keeping reasons, government officials are required to use the government's email system for security reasons. The government's email system is considered more secure than publicly available email services such as Gmail and Yahoo.