No Secretary of State Ever Used a State.gov Email Account Until John Kerry

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Karin Lang, a State Department official responsible for records management, testified yesterday about Hillary Clinton’s email practices:

Lang, a career employee who in July 2015 became director of the Executive Secretariat staff, which is responsible for records management, said that while a unit responsible for FOIA requests was told that Clinton had no government email account when she took office in January 2009, no one in the unit ever asked whether she used a personal account to conduct business before she stepped down in 2013.

“Prior to Secretary Kerry, no secretary of state used a State.gov email address,” said Lang, supporting an explanation given by aides to the presumptive Democratic nominee for president that her email setup while at State was not unusual.

…Lang said that the FOIA office did not begin to search for records in response to Judicial Watch’s 2013 request for information concerning Abedin’s employment until after the group sued, and that at the unit chief’s direction, the FOIA office searched only human-resources records, not emails.

Apparently the head of State’s FOIA unit “grew curious” about Hillary’s email arrangement when that famous picture of her using a BlackBerry first appeared. It just goes to show that fame has both its ups and downs.

But now a question. This is probably going to expose an embarrassing lack of knowledge, but I finally have to ask. After Vice News1 filed its lawsuit against Hillary, a judge eventually ordered State to release every single email she had sent and received as secretary of state. Another judge recently ordered a similar broad release in a different case brought by the Republican National Committee.

What’s the deal with this? Has any cabinet officer ever been ordered to release the entirety of his or her correspondence—either hard copy or digital—before? Is a broad FOIA request all that’s required? Or does this kind of thing only happen to Hillary Clinton?

1Or Judicial Watch? Or someone else? I can’t keep all 35 suits demanding the release of Hillary’s emails straight.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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