Fmr DOJ OIP Head: Clinton ‘Went Too Far,’ Some Defenses ‘Laughable’

Daniel Metcalfe, Adjunct Law Professor at the American University Washington College of Law, who served as founding director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy (OIP) for more than 25 years and supervised the he Freedom of Information Act’s implementation for the whole executive branch said that Hillary Clinton’s private email use “went too far” and that her defense during her press conference was “laughable in some respects” on Tuesday’s “CNN Newsroom.”

“I would advise her to sort of roll back the clock on her press conference, not continue with the careful delineation, language that she used there, which, quite frankly, is laughable in some respects, and then to acknowledge that she went too far, and that she’s now going to try to do whatever she possibly can. One thing in particular she could do, is, with respect to the official emails on that side of the line in her server where she transmitted to the State Department last year — that information only in paper form, not electronic form, I suggest it would go a long way if she did the latter. Because there is a difference between a paper printout and information in electronic form. For purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, for example, there could be a keyword search electronically, as opposed to a more laborious, perhaps partly erroneous search through pieces of paper. There also could be metadata surrounding those email communications in electronic form, and server logs as well” he stated.

Earlier, Metcalfe said, “she used, exclusively, a personal e-mail account, as opposed to an official government email account. That’s point one. Secondly, when she did that, she didn’t take the steps that the government says should be taken in the exceptional circumstance in which there is resort to a personal email account. The rule is that you should use the official email account, but if you’re a busy Secretary of State responding to crises around the world in the middle of the night, sometimes you can’t grab that device so readily. So, there is some flexibility, as a practical matter, to allow a personal account to be used occasionally. When that happens, the step is then to be taken of putting that — forwarding that email into the State Department system. She didn’t do that at all. Then she relied upon, instead, the fact that the vast majority of her, and I’m quoting her here, of her email correspondence was with State Department, or other government officials, where you would imagine there would be residue information in the accounts of those agencies for that, but that’s only the majority, not the minority.”

He also added, “I can’t help but wonder how that [Clinton’s private server and account] could have been looked at, at time of her departure,” but that he couldn’t say whether or not she signed a separation statement because “whether they use a particular form or not, I don’t have personal knowledge of that. I know only what we did at the Justice Department, but it certainly is a very logical area of focus, as you indicate.”

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