Hillary Clinton may have violated the law by exclusively using a personal email account for work-related business while she was Secretary of State, the New York Times reported Monday. The report, which could put a dent in Clinton’s potential presidential campaign, has sparked concern from government watchdogs.
Here’s what you need to know about the email scandal:
1. She Didn’t Have a Government Email
Clinton never used a State Department email during her four years there and her aides didn’t have emails from her personal account preserved on department servers, according to the Times. The former Secretary of State was required to keep records of her email per the Federal Records Act for potential use by Congressional committees, the media and historians. Classified and sensitive materials are exempt.
Jason R. Baron, the former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, told the Times:
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.
2. Her Spokesman Says She Followed the Rules
A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, told the Times that she followed the “letter and spirit of the rules.”
According to the report, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the State Department by Clinton’s staff in early 2013 after she stepped down as Secretary of State.
3. Her Email Was Registered on the Day of Her Senate Hearing
Hackers may have uncovered the domain Clinton was using, and the Washington Post reports that it was registered on the day of the Senate hearing regarding her appointment to the Secretary of State position.
In 2013, a Romanian hacker broke into the email account of Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. Emails published by the Russian media show Blumenthal was corresponding with an email using the domain “http://clintonemail.com.” According to the Post, that email was registered Jan. 13, 2009, the same day as her confirmation hearing.
4. Other Officials Have Used Private Emails
Clinton is not the first government official to use a private email for work-related business, the Times reports, but experts told the newspaper that it’s unusual for an official to not use a government email at all.
Baron, who worked at the National Archives for more than 10 years, told the Times he couldn’t recall a similar instance.
Clinton’s successor as Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been using a State Department email, according to the report.
On NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, Robert Gibbs, a former spokesman for President Obama, called Clinton’s private email usage “highly unusual.”
Gibbs told host Matt Lauer:
I think it’s something they’re going to have to explain in good measure today and probably figure out how to get a lot of those emails, or as many as they can back into the archive.
5. Republicans Quickly Criticized Her
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush took to Twitter to respond to the Times’ report, and also plugged his website, jebbushemails.com, where he posted all the correspondence from his time as Florida’s governor.