Joe Scarborough Wrong On Hillary Clinton's Emails And Federal Regulations

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton violated federal regulations through her use of email as secretary of state. But contrary to Scarborough's claim, Clinton complied with the relevent regulations by retaining and preserving her emails and turning them over to the State Department in 2014.

Hillary Clinton On Use Of Private Emails: “Everything I Did Was Permitted By Law And Regulation”

Clinton Says Her Email Use At State Department Was “Permitted By Law And Regulation.” During an interview on the July 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, network Senior Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar questioned Hillary Clinton about her email usage during her tenure at the State Department. When asked about deleting emails, Clinton explained that everything she had done regarding her email practices while secretary of state “was permitted by law and regulation,” and that “previous secretaries of state have said they did the same thing”:

KEILAR: One of the issues that has eroded some trust that we've seen is the issue of your email practices while you were secretary of state. I think there's a lot of people who don't understand what your thought process was on that.

Can you tell me the story of how you decided to delete 33,000 emails and how that deletion was executed?

CLINTON: Well, let's start from the beginning. Everything I did was permitted. There was no law. There was no regulation. There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate. Previous secretaries of state have said they did the same thing. And people across the government knew that I used one device. Maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.

KEILAR: But you said they -- that they did the same thing, that they used a personal server and...

CLINTON: Well, personal e-mail...


KEILAR: ... a subpoena deleted emails from them?

CLINTON: You know, you're starting with so many assumptions that are -- I've never had a subpoena. There is -- again, let's take a deep breath here. Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation. I had one device. When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system. Now I didn't have to turn over anything. I chose to turn over 55,000 pages, because I wanted to go above and beyond what was expected of me because I knew the vast majority of everything that was official already was in the State Department system. [CNN, The Situation Room7/7/15]

Joe Scarborough: Clinton's Comments On Email Use “Just Not True”

Scarborough: “You Can Go Down The List” Of Clinton's Comments On Her Emails, But They're “Just Not True.” Responding to Clinton's statements on her email use in a series of segments on the July 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough claimed that Clinton's explanations were “just not true.” Falsely claiming that President Obama had signed regulations on email use while Clinton was still at the State Department, Scarborough asserted that her practices were not permitted and that it was inaccurate for Clinton to site other former secretaries of state in her defense since the policies didn't exist while they were in office:

SCARBOROUGH: I've always said I like Hillary. But, it would take three hours to unwind everything she said there and point out that, well, it's just not true. It's not true that everything she did was acceptable under regulations. It's not true that she only had one device and you can go down the list. I guess we're going to have to listen to it again and write it down again. She said it well. She seemed to be very confident when she was saying it. But it just -- it's just not true.


SCARBOROUGH: Let's look at the screen. What she's saying, and a lot of things she's saying are just not true. I don't say that with any malice. I'm just, factually speaking, if you talk to the Obama administration and you look at what's below your head right now and “everything I did was permitted”? No, it wasn't. The Obama administration will tell you off camera, off record, that what she did was not permitted. The Obama administration will tell you they put in regulations in 2009 that required Hillary Clinton to store all of her e-mails, not just e-mails that she sent selectively to people inside the State Department or the government inside the State Department. But all e-mails. You also can look at the fact that she had the server in Chappaqua. That wasn't permitted. The fact that she destroyed her server and didn't turn it over. That causes numbers of problems.

HAROLD FORD JR.: How do you reconcile the fact that we had former secretaries of state from different administration say they also had..

KATTY KAY: They had separate devices. They didn't have separate servers, because back in that time you wouldn't have separate servers.

SCARBOROUGH: They always bring up Colin Powell. Colin Powell didn't work for Barack Obama in 2009 when Obama said 'this is the way we're going to keep our government transparent. This is the way we're going to make sure that people can have access to the documents that we move around this administration when they search for them in freedom of information acts.' That's why they passed the regulation in 2009 saying if you work for an agency, all of your e-mails, not just the e-mails you send to the agency, all of your e-mails have to be stored there. She did not do it. Everything she did was not permitted.  [MSNBC, Morning Joe7/8/15

Clinton's Emails Were Retained And Provided In Compliance With 2009 Regulation

NYT: Agencies Were Not Required To Preserve Emails Rapidly Until After Clinton Left Office. In a March 13 article, The New York Times explained that while Clinton was at the State Department regulations only required “those messages at some point to be provided to the government,” without requiring them to be preserved in real time:

While many agencies' current practice is to print and file emails deemed worthy of saving, an Obama administration directive in 2012 mandates that agencies must devise a system for retaining and preserving email records electronically by the end of 2016.

Mr. Obama signed legislation late last year requiring government officials who use personal email addresses for official business to bring those records into the government within 20 days. Before that, the National Archives and Records Administration simply required those messages at some point to be provided to the government.

“The wiggle room for Mrs. Clinton is that those policies didn't come into play until after she was gone” from the State Department in early 2013, said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, an independent, nongovernmental organization focused on transparency. [The New York Times, 3/13/15]

Clinton Preserved And Submitted Emails In Line With 2009 Regulation And Department Process Of Updating Records At The Time. In the daily press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf explained that Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of documents as part of the State Department's “process of updating our records management” and emphasized that Clinton is the only former secretary of state to have done so. From Harf's briefing:

HARF: When in the process of updating our records management - this is something that's sort of ongoing given technology and the changes - we reached out to all of the former secretaries of state to ask them to provide any records they had. Secretary Clinton sent back 55,000 pages of documents to the State Department very shortly after we sent the letter to her. She was the only former Secretary of State who sent documents back in to this request. These 55,000 pages covered her time, the breadth of her time at the State Department. [State Department Daily Press Briefing, 3/3/15]

State Department Reportedly Had 90 Percent Of The Emails Already. A Clinton aide told The Daily Beast that “9 out of 10 emails that she sent over the course of her tenure went to the State Department,” so that “State had it in their servers already.” The aide further said that the 55,000 pages of emails already in State's possession represent the entirety of Clinton's work-related email sent during her tenure. [The Daily Beast, 3/3/15]

The 2014 Law Requiring Immediate Retention Of Private Emails Was Not Changed Until After Clinton Left The State Department

President Obama Signed Update To Federal Records Act In 2014. The Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 became law on November 26, 2014. [, accessed 3/3/15]

  • National Archives Official: 2014 Federal Records Law Clarified How Private Email Should Be Handled. Among the “major points” in the 2014 law highlighted by the National Archives was: “Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government email systems.” [Records Express, National Archives, 12/2/14]
  • 2014 Federal Records Law Marked “The First Significant Changes To The Federal Records Act Of 1950.” According to the National Archives, the 2014 law marked “the first significant changes to the Federal Records Act of 1950.” [Records Express, National Archives, 12/2/14]

White House: Obama Signed Law “Clarifying The Guidelines” For Federal Records After Clinton Left Office. Asked about Clinton's emails during the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that it was after the federal records law was clarified last year -- 18 months after Clinton left office -- that the State Department began its process of updating its records. From Earnest's press briefing:

EARNEST: In fact, the President signed into law a bill at the end of last year clarifying the guidelines for how those personal emails can be properly stored and maintained.  This is part of why the State Department has asked all of the previous Secretaries of State who have used any email as they were conducting official U.S. business to send their emails to the State Department so they could be properly preserved and maintained. [White House Press Briefing, 3/3/15]

Law Signed “Two Years After Clinton Stepped Down.” Criticizing the Times article's insinuation that Clinton violated the law, Daily Banter contributor Bob Cesca pointed out: “The article doesn't say which federal regulation, though. Why? Perhaps because the federal regulations went into effect in late November, 2014 when President Obama signed H.R. 1233, modernizing the Federal Records Act of 1950 to include electronic communications. It was signed two years after Clinton stepped down.” [The Daily Banter, 3/3/15]

Rep. Cummings: Even The 2014 Bill “Would Continue To Allow Employees To Use Their Personal Email Account For Official Business.” Contrary to claims that Hillary Clinton violated the law by using personal email account while serving as Secretary of State, even a 2014 law that strengthened oversight of the use of personal email by government officials -- passed after Hillary Clinton had left the State Department -- still permitted government officials to use personal email. During a House speech discussing the bill, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said:

CUMMINGS: The bill also includes language based on an amendment that Darryl Issa proposed during the committee markup of the bill to address the use of personal email by the federal employees; and that amendment makes the bill even better. This bill will continue to allow employees to use their personal email account for official business when necessary, but it would require employees to copy their official email account or forward their email to their official account. [Cummings floor statement on Presidential Records Act, 11/12/14, via YouTube]

Politico: New Law “Made Clear” Personal Emails On Official Business Must Be Preserved. Reporting on President Obama signing the bill in November 2014, Politico reported: “The law also includes a provision sought by Republicans making clear that emails government employees send on private accounts about government business must be incorporated into official records systems.” [Politico11/26/14]