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Financial Times – Hillary Clinton defends use of personal emails – Jerry Reisman quoted

March 3, 2015 Posted in: RPR&C In The Media

financial times

March 3, 2015

Hillary Clinton defends use of personal emails

jerry quote

By Barney Jopson

Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been engulfed in fresh controversy over her tenure as US secretary of state after revelations that she relied solely on a personal email account to do government business.

The news came amid reports that Mrs Clinton was considering plans to launch her bid for the presidency as early as April and was quickly seized on by Jeb Bush, who has emerged as the leading presidential contender among moderate Republicans.

Mrs Clinton’s camp launched a strong defence of her actions, arguing that she had broken no rules and previous secretaries of state had also used personal email accounts for work.

A spokesman for the former secretary of state said: “[Mrs Clinton] used her own email account when engaging with any department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained.”

Mrs Clinton’s early status as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election has made her a target for partisan attacks. The Republican field remains highly fragmented as a host of conservative rivals seek to blunt Mr Bush’s momentum.

Mr Bush, the former Florida governor, moved quickly to stoke the Clinton controversy, tweeting: “Transparency matters. Unclassified @HillaryClinton emails should be released.” Mr Bush noted that he had published his emails from his time as Florida governor.

Robert Gibbs, who was White House press secretary during part of Mrs Clinton’s tenure, told NBC: “I think [the use of personal email] is, obviously, highly unusual.”

Jerry Reisman, a lawyer and expert in government ethics, said Mrs Clinton had been “foolish” to rely on a personal account and predicted that questions would be raised over whether she had done so to hide something.

Noting that the state department’s own email system had advanced security protection, he said that Mrs Clinton’s communications would have been vulnerable to cyber attacks if she had used a standard email service.

“Hopefully her private email was not hacked or compromised in some way which would undermine the security of the US,” said Mr Reisman, a partner at Reisman, Peirez, Reisman & Capobianco. “This is almost scary.”

The former secretary’s spokesman said: “Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted state department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved.”

The state department recently contacted Mrs Clinton to ask for help in ensuring emails were retained and the Clinton camp agreed to assist, he said. Mrs Clinton headed the department from 2009 to 2013.

A state department spokeswoman also sought to downplay the significance of the news, saying John Kerry, Mrs Clinton’s successor, was the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov email account.

“The state department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and department officials with state.gov accounts,” the spokeswoman noted.

Mrs Clinton’s reliance on a personal email account was first reported by The New York Times late on Monday.

Republicans have previously sought to use Mrs Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state against her. Senior lawmakers last year accused the Obama administration of orchestrating a cover-up over a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, when Mrs Clinton was secretary of state, but a Republican-controlled congressional committee dismissed the accusations.