Release of the long-awaited audit sharply criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email practices Wednesday did little to change the dialogue on Capitol Hill.
Republicans were quick to point to the findings from the State Department inspector general’s report showing that Clinton’s use of a private server in the basement of her New York home violated department policies and ignored security warnings.
Democrats, meanwhile, noted that the audit found “long-standing, systemic weaknesses,” in the way the office of secretary of State has maintained electronic records dating to before Clinton’s tenure.
While comprehensive, the 83-page audit did not include much new information on the scandal that has dogged Clinton throughout her campaign for president.
“The State Department said she didn’t comply? Doesn’t surprise me because I believe all evidence that I’ve read for the past couple, at least 18 months, kind of would indicate that she didn’t comply,” Iowa GOP Sen. Charles E. Grassley said Wednesday before reviewing the report.
“The report by the State Department inspector general says nothing new,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement, “but it does reinforce what we already know—that previous employees at State established the precedent of using personal email for official activities.”
The audit reviewed practices dating back to Madeleine Albright ‘s tenure at Foggy Bottom in the late 1990s, and found that other secretaries of state had communicated using private email accounts and personal equipment. But the audit was particularly critical of Clinton, saying clear policies were already in place.
“By Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the department’s guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated,” it concluded. “Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said in a statement that Clinton showed “reckless disregard of procedures design to enhance national security,” The Wisconsin Republican also faulted her for not seeking permission to use her personal email and for ignoring securing warnings from department experts.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said the report provided “independent confirmation that her email system was unauthorized, illegal and put classified information at risk.”
The report found Clinton used a personal email system to conduct business as a senator and during her 2008 presidential campaign. She continued the practice as secretary of state, using a server in her New York home basement.
Clinton produced about 30,000 emails, in 55,000 printed pages, in response to state department requests in 2014, the report said. But under department rules, she should have done so before so before she left office in 2012, the report states.
In a tweet, Clinton’s campaign press secretary Brian Fallon characterized Republican criticism as part of the political process.
GOP will attack HRC because she is running for President, but IG report makes clear her personal email use was not unique at State Dept
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) May 25, 2016
Both Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell and their staff used personal devices to send and receive emails, in spite of policies and security warnings against such practices, the report found.
Powell has stated publicly that he installed a laptop computer on a private line while he served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of State, a post he left in 2005. He has said he used the laptop to send emails from his private account to his personal assistants and foreign dignitaries. Those emails were not retained, a violation of federal policies.
Powell has not responded to a State Department request to ask his service provider whether copies of his records could be retrieved from its servers.