Come for the relatively aggressive reporter fact-checking of an administration mouthpiece, stay for the moment when she becomes flustered to the point of physical comedy.
What’s at issue in this exchange is the practices of former Secretaries of State on e-mail. Because of the progression of technology, Secretaries of State before Clinton would have relied far less on e-mail to conduct business than she did. The recently ostentatiously unpromoted Harf’s contention is that, “[Clinton] was following what would have been the practice of previous secretaries.” She says current Sec. John Kerry is the first to rely primarily on a state.gov account. That much may be true, but it’s only true because Hillary explicitly, with intention to obfuscate and a mind to opacity, opted out of the state.gov address she should have had.
Moving on, Harf claims Clinton was in line with the practices of Sec. Condolleezza Rice. That is not true, according to reports on Rice’s practices. Sources contend she rarely used e-mail to conduct official business—more understandable in the world of 2006 than now—but that when she did, it was on official state.gov servers.
“Secretary Rice rarely used email during her tenure at State. On the very rare occasion she did, her State Department email was the vehicle for official communication,” the source said, adding, “She did not use personal email for official communication as Secretary.”
Meanwhile, Team Clinton is in hyperdrive “depends what the definition of is is” mode. Clinton’s e-mail practices clearly violated the National Archives and Records Administration regulations put in place in 2009, which required a regular and reliable way of archiving personal e-mails inside the State Department data structure. Clinton clearly didn’t have a regular and reliable practice for doing this, as she only turned over her private e-mails recently at the request of the State Department. Clinton is like the person who leaves a job without giving her successor any of the reports on ongoing projects or passwords to important folders and documents. Kerry came in and all he found was an empty desk, the State Department red Swingline stapler mysteriously purloined along with all record of what the hell the department had been doing for four years.
Even if there was no specific law to ensure this practice with respect to e-mail until 2014—which, by the way, is another great indication maybe the federal government shouldn’t be trusted to keep up with technology such that it can regulate the Internet safely, but I digress—Clinton was violating the regulations, the spirit of federal record keeping, and the directives of the MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION IN HISTORY. Regardless of all of this, the Federal Records Act requires the archiving of official records, which she was not doing. Though the Act doesn’t specifically refer to e-mails, e-mails are understood to be official records when used in official conduct of business. Therefore, if David Brock’s Hair wants a retraction for the NYT piece on Hillary’s e-mails, he’s gonna have to demand one for the months of coverage of Karl Rove using RNC e-mail servers while in the Bush White House.