AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Ongoing Mystery of Who OK'd Clinton's Private Server

Judicial Watch deposes aide Huma Abedin and Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy.

With Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign awaiting results of an FBI probe into her handling of classified information, her aides and former colleagues continue to give testimony in a private lawsuit without answering the question of who approved Clinton’s controversial private home server.

Judicial Watch, the conservative nonprofit legal group that sued the State Department to clarify the unusual employment status of Clinton deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, won from a U.S. district judge the right to depose current and former State officials—and to publish the transcripts.

This week, it released attorneys’ interviews with Abedin and Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy. Both were asked about how Clinton’s private server came to be and whether due consideration was given to recordkeeping obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

Government Executive review of the two sessions finds no indicator of a specific decision or discussion of the pros and cons of the unusual arrangement, the aides casting it more as a way for Clinton to avoid spam and protect her private messages while conducting diplomacy.

Abedin on June 28 described how Clinton information technology aide Justin Cooper helped set up Abedin’s account on Clinton’s private server as a routine fix. Abedin had lost her email accounts from Clinton’s Senate staff and presidential campaign, and she consulted with Cooper whenever glitches occurred in the course of the secretary’s communications.

Abedin did, however, acknowledge that she occasionally used the private email for State business as well as personal communication. And as a member of Clinton’s inner circle, she comes across in the testimony as slightly bewildered that the issue became so salient.

Kennedy testified on June 29 that the significance did not “register” with him that Clinton was using a non-state.gov email account even though he communicated with her by email, Judicial Watch noted in a statement. He voiced no opinion as to whether policies were violated except to say that State Department records-management policy encourages employees to use state.gov addresses for official business.

His testimony suggests he was focused on fast-breaking events detailed in emails from the secretary and not on which email address she wrote from. Kennedy also said he did not discuss with Clinton whether she should use a private server, saying it was “not in my purview.”

Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff

Abedin, the transcript shows, expressed sympathy for her boss’ expressed desire to keep personal emails private—the ones Clinton has characterized as dealing with her daughter’s wedding and her yoga class. “I understand . . . her not wanting her . . . private personal emails being accessible,” though Abedin did not recall any discussion of the issue.

She was asked, during frequent objections by her attorney, “Upon becoming the head of the agency, did the secretary request authorization from anyone at the State Department to use her Clintonemail.com for State Department business?” Abedin’s reply: “Not that I'm aware of.”

When asked whether Clinton ever objected to Abedin’s use of her private email account for official business, the aide replied, “No, not that I remember.”

Adedin said she and other Clinton aides did not, as the questioner phrased it, “consult with anybody in Patrick Kennedy's office about your use of the Clintonemail.com accounts for State Department business.”

Asked whether she had consulted with State’s Executive Secretariat records management official Clarence Finney or his staff on the arrangement, Abedin said, “I don't recall any conversations.”

When Judicial Watch attorneys asked whether Abedin was aware of her obligations to preserve records, she said, “The emails on my State Department system existed on my computer, and I . . . didn't have a practice of managing my mailbox other than leaving what was in there sitting in there.”

Asked whether she ever searched her BlackBerry for records that had been requested by the FOIA office, Abedin said she was never asked to.

Finally, Abedin did not recall the previously reported departmentwide memo Clinton sent in 2011 declaring that employees “should only use their State Department e-mail accounts for State Department business.”

Overall, Abedin’s status as one of the few with access to Clinton’s private email account “wasn't something -- I didn't, you know -- I kept hidden,” Abedin told the attorneys. “It was shared with people, people at State used it particularly when State.gov was down. I used it. I assumed it was okay to use it. I wasn't told that I couldn't use it. But my practice was to use my State.gov” official account.

State’s Undersecretary for Management

Like the general public, Kennedy learned about Clinton’s private email server when the New York Times broke the story while reporting on the House Benghazi investigation in March 2015.

In this week’s testimony, Kennedy noted that in the course of Clinton’s four-year tenure at State he participated in about 30 email exchanges with her (judging by the FOIA requests he was later asked to review).

He told his questioners he recalled one email in particular because “it involved an evacuation of American citizens, and that is a subject for which I am particularly responsible.” But Kennedy did not recall noticing the return address, only that it was from Secretary Clinton. “I focused on the subject matter, because this was an ongoing evacuation of American citizens from a place of grave danger.”

When asked whether he thought about how her records would be managed, Kennedy said he did not.

Did he think “it was unusual for the Secretary of State to be not using a State Department email address?,” the Judicial Watch attorney asked. “No, I did not,” Kennedy replied, “because previous Secretaries of State had not used email addresses at all,” in the course of daily business.

Kennedy called Clinton’s use of that private email address of “a very, very limited nature.” He never asked her or any other staffers whether the secretary was using a non-State email address, he testified. “It's not something that I ever focused on.”

Kennedy added he is “not responsible for the provision of records or telecommunication support to the Secretary of State. That is handled by an office within the Executive Secretariat.” Kennedy acknowledged that he had passed on the resume of Bryan Pagliano—the IT specialist who was hired and set up Clinton’s private server—but did not manage his work.

Asked point blank who would be authorized to approve Clinton’s email arrangement, Kennedy said, “It would have come either from the chief information officer or from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Most likely a combination of the two,” he said.

Did “Mrs. Clinton's use of a non-State Department email address . . . conflict with any State Department policies, practices, or procedures?” the Judicial Watch attorney asked. “I am not a lawyer, sir. I would have to consult with . . . appropriate officials and the legal advisor's office, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Bureau of Administration, and the office—and the chief information officers.”

Finally, Kennedy was pressed for the title of a specific individual “who would be responsible for informing the secretary that she should not use a non-State.gov email account to conduct government business?”

Said Kennedy: “I'm not sure . . . I can identify a specific individual person. It would have been the collective responsibility of the Executive Secretariat.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.