State Department audit faults Clinton for private e-mail use

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Washington –  A State Department review faulted Hillary Clinton for her exclusive use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as Secretary of State, the report said on Thursday.

It said that the practice posed a risk and did not comply with government records laws.

Revelations that Clinton used a personal e-mail address and a server located in her home have raised questions about her tenure at the State Department and dogged her presidential campaign for months.

The State Department Office of Inspector General report, which leaked on Wednesday, found Clinton had not sought permission for her unusual e-mail arrangement and would likely have been denied had she sought permission.

The report details warnings to Clinton aides about with the e-mail arrangement that were ignored.

The report noted that Clinton was not alone in exclusively using a personal e-mail account and that former Secretary of State, Colin Powell (2001-05) had done so as well.

However, it noted that security protocols were more advanced during Clinton’s tenure.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, mentioned the Inspector-general report in a broadside against Clinton at a campaign rally Wednesday in California.

“She’s as crooked as they come; she had a little bad news today, as you know, some reports that came down that weren’t so good.

“Inspector-general report not good,” he said.

Republicans have long said the issues showed Clinton is untrustworthy and raised questions about her judgement.

“The inspector-general’s findings are just the latest chapter in the long saga of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgement that broke federal rules and endangered our national security,” Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus said.

“The stakes are too high in this to entrust the White House to someone with as much poor judgement and reckless disregard for the law as Hillary Clinton.”

Clinton’s campaign stressed that the report showed her actions were not unique.

It shows that the State Department officials knew she was using a private account, and that she took steps to preserve her records.

The report is due to be publicly released on Thursday, but the Washington Post published a copy of it on its website on Wednesday.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner would not comment on the specifics of the report before its official release, but said that the department has complied with all the recommendations handed down to improve security.

“The report does highlight the challenges that the State Department as well as other federal agencies is facing in trying to have proper record keeping and accountability in email communication,” he said.

He stressed that there was no prohibition on using personal email, but the report describes an obligation to use department systems in most circumstances.

The inspector general found no evidence that the secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account or her private server,” the report found.

The U.S. State Department released thousands of Clinton’s emails last year and earlier this year in order to comply with a judge’s order in the face of lawsuits seeking release under open records laws.

Clinton has said using the private server was a mistake, as the e-mail issue has become a liability in her presidential campaign.

The affair has raised questions about transparency, technical security and her handling of sensitive e-mail relating to the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The FBI is investigating Clinton’s server to see if classified information was mishandled.

In addition, several newspapers and other media outlets as well as Republicans in Congress want to examine the e-mails, as her years of service come under the microscope of a presidential race.

Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee for president, but still faces a primary challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has vowed to remain in the race despite trailing Clinton in the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. (dpa/NAN)