The New York Times' Deceptive Suggestion That Hillary Clinton May Have Violated Federal Records Law

It Was Only After Clinton Left The State Department That The Law Concerning Private Emails Was Changed


The New York Times accused Hillary Clinton of potentially violating federal law pertaining to the preservation of e-mail records while acting as Secretary of State, but requirements to maintain such records did not exist during her tenure.

The New York Times Accused Clinton Of Possible Wrong-Doing With Usage Of Non-Government Emails

NYT: Clinton's Use Of Private Email During Time At The State Department May Have Violated Federal Law. In a March 2 report, The New York Times accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of possibly having "violated federal requirements that officials' correspondence be retained as part of the agency's record" with the use of personal email for official government business during her time at the department.The Times reported, "Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials." [The New York Times,3/2/15]

But The Law Overseeing 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]

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]

Media Follow NYT In Scandalizing Clinton's Use Of Non-Government Email

Good Morning AmericaNYT Report "Raises Questions About" Clinton's "Security And Transparency." During a March 3 report on ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos asserted that the Times report on Clinton's use of personal email "raises questions about" Clinton's "security and transparency." Network White House correspondent Jonathan Karl agreed, saying, "It sure does and it will also likely become a big issue in the upcoming presidential campaign." [ABC, Good Morning America3/3/15]

Today: Clinton's Use Of Personal Email "A Potential Political Problem" For Her. In a March 3 report for NBC's Today, network correspondent Kristen Welker reported that Clinton's use of personal email during her time as Secretary of State was a "potential political problem as she mulls a presidential run in 2016" that "plays right into the hands of her critics." [NBC, Today3/3/15]

Wash. Post: Clinton's Private Email Account "Bolster[s] Long-Standing Criticism" She Is Not "Transparent." In a March 3 report on Clinton's use of a personal email account, The Washington Post asserted that the news "appears to bolster long-standing criticism that Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have not been transparent." [The Washington Post3/3/15]

Time: Clinton "Only Used A Personal Email Account" Despite Law Requiring Emails Be "Kept On Departmental And Not Private Servers." In a March 2 post, Time asserted that Hillary Clinton had "only used a personal email account" despite a stipulation from federal law which required emails be "kept on departmental and not private servers." The post went on to claim that "Clinton's aides allegedly made no effort to upload her personal emails to the department's servers during her four-year tenure, as stipulated under the Federal Records Act." [Time3/2/15]

The Atlantic: Clinton Has "Contempt For Transparency." The Atlantic's Connor Friedersdorf asserted in a March 3 article that Clinton has a "contempt for transparency" as evidenced by "her willful, flagrant disregard for public records rules." Friedersdorf went on to allege that by using her personal account, Clinton could have hidden "whatever she wants hidden":

There's no telling what other official or semi-official business Clinton conducted through the private email account that she seems to have begun using just before taking her cabinet job. The emails she has turned over were all chosen by Clinton and her aides, giving her an opportunity to hide whatever she wants hidden. But the episode already confirms what attentive observers have long known: if the Clintons return to the White House, we can expect more suspicious secrets, stonewalling, and opaqueness, much as we've seen in the past. Voters have been given ample warning. [The Atlantic3/3/15]

The NYT Scandal Mongering Is Based On Old News

Use Of Non-Government Email Is Not New. Business Insider reported that it has been known since 2013 that Clinton used a non-government email, undercutting the campaign to scandalize the fact:

Clinton emailed from a personalized domain, Records show it was registered on the day of her confirmation hearing in January 2009. Along with State Department business, the officials said Clinton also used the email address to communicate with friends and family.

Her address was revealed in early 2013, shortly after she left the State Department. [Business Insider, 3/3/15]

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