Benghazi committee subpoenas Hillary Clinton's emails

The House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed Wednesday afternoon, for all correspondence related to the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack.

The Washington Post initially broke the news that the State Department would likely be receiving subpoenas from the House investigative group which had discovered, through its investigation of the Benghazi attack, that Hillary Clinton had used a personal email account for diplomatic business while serving as secretary of state.

"Without access to the relevant electronic information and stored data on the server — which was reportedly registered to her home — there is no way the Committee, or anyone else, can fully explain why the Committee uncovered two email addresses,” Jamal D. Ware, communications director for the Select Committee on Benghazi said in a statement Wednesday.

“This is why former Secretary Clinton’s exclusive use of personal emails to conduct official U.S. government business is so problematic and raises significant issues for transparency,” Ware wrote. “The American people have a right to a full accounting of all the former Secretary’s emails, and the Committee is committed to working to uncover all the facts.”

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Clinton used a personal email address during her entire four years as secretary of state, a revelation that has prompted questions about whether Clinton’s preferred method of correspondence violated federal rules.

The Federal Records Act requires that government officials retain all of their written correspondence. And under specific guidelines signed into law by President Obama, government email accounts are supposed to be used in any situation involving official business. The Obama guidelines allow officials to conduct business through personal accounts only if each email is simultaneously retained on the official’s government account or forwarded within 20 days.

By never having a government email address during her four years at the State Department, transparency advocates argue, Clinton managed to circumvent these rules.

"It's not a random personal account but a carefully calculated system to avoid using public, government-archived email," Republican Rep. Martha Roby, who serves on the House Benghazi committee, told the Associated Press on Wednesday .

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill, however, has insisted that the presidential hopeful followed the “letter and spirit of the rules.” Merrill said Clinton “had every expectation [her correspondence] would be retained” because she emailed her advisers and colleagues in the State Department using their official addresses. Also, the Associated Press noted, Clinton had been gone from the State Department for two years before President Obama signed the law outlining those specific guidelines for official use of personal email accounts in November 2014.

Jason Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, told The New York Times, “I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business.” Yet, Clinton is hardly alone.

Colin Powell also used a personal email account for official State Department business, an aide to the former secretary of state confirmed following the New York Times report Tuesday.

“He was not aware of any restrictions nor does he recall being made aware of any over the four years he served at State,” the aide said in a statement to Politico, noting that Powell’s emails to his staff should be retained on State Department computers because he generally corresponded with them via their official email addresses.

“He did not take any hard copies of emails with him when he left office and he has no record of the emails,” the statement from Powell’s aide continues. “They were all unclassified and mostly of a housekeeping nature. He came into office encouraging the use of emails as a way of getting the staff to embrace the new 21st information [sic] world.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the other hand, did not use a private email address. Then again, she “rarely used email during her tenure at State,” a source close to Powell’s successor told Business Insider. “On the very rare occasion she did, her State Department email was the vehicle for official communication.”

Business Insider also received a statement from a current State Department deputy spokesperson Tuesday saying that John Kerry is actually “the first Secretary of State to rely primarily on a email account.”

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that it may also take legal action over the State Department's to release some of Clinton's emails requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The revelation of Clinton's questionable mode of correspondence during her tenure as Secretary of State has prompted accusations that the private email account allowed her to evade public records journalists' public records requests.

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