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The Top 5 Rules Clinton Broke Using a Secret Email Server

Raj Shah - January 28, 2016

This week, Clinton has been walking back any claims of misjudgment or mistakes regarding her email scandal, claiming, “nothing that I did was wrong, it was not in any way prohibited,” and that her private server was “permitted.”

But Clinton’s exclusive use of private email while she was Secretary of State was unprecedented and violated several major rules and regulations.

Here are just some of the many State Department rules and Federal laws she violated:

Rule Violation #1: Clinton violated a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) she signed upon becoming Secretary by retaining records with classified information.


In Section 7 of her NDA, Clinton agreed to return any classified information she gained access to, and further agreed that failure to do so could be punished under Sections 793 and 1924 of the US Criminal Code.

According To § 793 Of Title 18 Of The US Code, anyone who willfully retains, transmits or causes to be transmitted, national security information, can face up to ten years in prison.

According To § 1924 Of Title 18 Of The US Code, anyone who removes classified information “ with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location," can face up to a year in prison.

The agreement considers information classified whether it is “marked or unmarked.”

To date, 1,340 emails on Hillary’s secret server have been found to contain classified material.

Among these, two have been deemed “Top Secret.”

In addition, a new letter from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) reveals Clinton’s secret server contained intelligence from the U.S. government’s most secretive and highly classified programs. According to sworn statements from two intelligence agencies, “several dozen emails” contain classified information, including information beyond Top Secret with material on “special access programs.”

The material is apparently so sensitive that lawmakers conducting oversight of the State Department cannot read them.

Rule Violation #2: Clinton violated State Department regulations forbidding the storage of classified information anywhere other than "the chancery" or "consulate" even for "reasons of personal convenience."

According to a State Department regulation in effect during Clinton's tenure (12 FAM 531), "classified material should not be stored at a facility outside the chancery, consulate, etc., merely for convenience."

Additionally, a regulation established in 2012 (12 FAM 533.2) requires that “each employee, irrespective of rank must certify” that classified information “is not in their household or personal effects.”

Clinton’s server was “physically located on her property,” according to a statement released by her office. In 2013, Platte River Networks took her server from her residence to New Jersey. Hillary has infamously credited her decision to exclusively use a private email server for official business as a matter of “convenience.”

Rule Violation #3: Clinton used a BlackBerry to transmit classified information despite State Department policy prohibiting its use.

As of December 2, 2009, the Foreign Affairs Manual has explicitly stated that “classified processing and/or classified conversation on a PDA is prohibited.”

Yet, State Department official Wendy Sherman bragged that Secretary Clinton used her BlackBerry to negotiate delicate Middle East peace talks over her BlackBerry, correspondence that has now been classified. Sherman herself proclaimed, “That would never be on an unclassified system…”

The sensitive discussion Clinton conducted on her BlackBerry likely falls within the parameters of “foreign government information.” The U.S. government defines any information written or spoken that is provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts as “foreign government information,” which is “presumed” classified according to U.S. regulations.  

Rule Violation #4: Clinton violated State Department policy by giving classified material to her lawyer despite the fact that he lacked an "approved classified material storage facility."

Classified information at the State Department can only be accessed in an approved facility at a Foreign Affairs agency or contractor facility (12 FAM 536.1-3, U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual).

Yet, in July 2015, the State Department arranged for a safe to be installed in the office of Hillary Clinton’s lawyers to hold a thumb drive of Clinton’s email, many of which contained classified information. The thumb drive was turned over to the FBI in August 2015.

The State Department has since conceded that Clinton’s lawyers did not have a secure-enough method for storing Clinton’s emails, which are stipulated in detail in the National Industrial Security Program’s Operating Manual (NISPOM).

Rule Violation #5: Clinton violated federal rules requiring she turn over work-related emails upon leaving office.

Federal regulations required that Clinton hand over all work-related emails upon leaving the State Department.

In 2009 (Clinton’s first year as Secretary), regulations were updated to specifically address the storage of email records not sent on official systems:

“Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate record-keeping system.”

The “head of each federal agency” (in this case Secretary Clinton) is responsible for making and preserving the records.

While Clinton has repeatedly claimed that she turned over all work related emails, the State Department revealed in June 2015 that it had not received “all or part of 15 work-related emails” from Clinton.

Contrary to her account of selfless transparency, Clinton did not hand over all work-related emails upon leaving the State Department or as part of a “general record-keeping” request. It was not until the summer of 2014, when the State Department discovered it had possession of relatively few email records from Clinton’s tenure that a request was made to provide her emails.  

Hillary Clinton can make baseless claims about her decisions being “permitted” and in total compliance with federal rules, regulations and statutes, but they are explicit, and her actions were in clear violation.


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