Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and her private e-mails are back in the news, after the State Department released the results of their audit concerning the former Secretary of State’s private e-mails.
According to CNN.com, an audit by the Inspector General from the State Department reveals that Clinton violated federal e-mail preservation policies.
The report, obtained by the news site Wednesday, states, “At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”
The extensive audit also identified other incidents of non-compliance concerning private e-mails that went far beyond Clinton’s. For example, former Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted to using a personal e-mail account to conduct business, yet failed to preserve government-related emails when he served as secretary of state, NBC News reports.
Throughout the probe of her private e-mail server, the former first lady asserted her compliance with the government records policy, stating that the majority of her e-mails were sent to individuals within the State Department system.
According to NBC News, however, the audit explains that “sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a federal record.”
The 83-page-report reveals that Clinton never got approval from Department legal staff to use a private e-mail server either, as there would have been “security risks in doing so,” the Washington Post reports.
In the audit, a Clinton staff member says that “the Director stated that the Secretary’s personal system had been reviewed and approved by Department legal staff and that the matter was not to be discussed any further.” Yet, according to CNN.com, the report points out that neither the Under Secretary for Management nor the Office of the Legal Adviser had any knowledge “of approval or review by other Department staff” concerning the server.
This critical audit on Clinton’s e-mail practices could potentially damage the Democratic front-runner’s campaign. So what does this mean for her opponent Bernie Sanders? So far, the Vermont senator has avoided attacking Clinton over her highly publicized e-mail scandal, but still deems it a “very serious issue.”
“I am not going to attack Hillary Clinton,” Sanders told NBC’s Chuck Todd back in January. “The American people will have to make that judgment.”
Not everyone shares Sanders’ neutral stance in the situation though. Huffington Post opinion writer H.A. Goodman published a piece in March suggesting that the former Secretary of State simply concede to Senator Sanders, as the public e-mail controversy would very soon prompt probes by the FBI.
“With Bernie Sanders now slightly ahead of Clinton nationally in the latest Bloomberg poll, it’s time to reevaluate the meaning of pragmatism,” Goodman wrote. “Hillary Clinton might be ahead of Bernie Sanders in delegates, but Vermont’s Senator has a monopoly on political momentum. Sadly, his opponent has a monopoly on controversy, and will face FBI interviews in the near future.”
Although Clinton is leading in the polls by a large margin, Sanders says he isn’t giving up just yet. Journalist and author Carl Bernstein even suggests that the controversy surrounding Clinton’s e-mails gives Sanders another reason to stay in the race, as the results of the investigation could be detrimental.
“I think there are going to be some leaks that are going to be very damaging to Hillary Clinton,” Bernstein said. Look, what she did was an act of recklessness, and entitlement, that there’s no excuse for. And she’s going to have to go up to the FBI, under oath, and explain why she did this.”
Whether Sanders decides to remain in the presidential race or not, he was sure to express his sentiments regarding Clinton’s e-mail scandal during a CNN Democratic Debate.
“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” Sanders exclaimed. “Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”