Kristina Schake, deputy communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said Wednesday that State Department rules regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state were not clear during her time in office.
Schake’s defense of Clinton on CNN’s At This Hour contradicts a report released last week by the State Department inspector general, which says Clinton’s exclusive use of a private server for her emails was not allowed at the time under department rules.
The IG report found that Clinton failed to comply with National Archives and Records Administration regulations on the use of personal email accounts by senior administration officials.
"She did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act," the document reads. "Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary."
"Hillary Clinton for a long time, including interviews with all the broadcast networks, said that how she used her private server was allowed under the rules of the State Department," CNN co-host John Berman told Schake. "The IG report says that’s not the case. They also say she never asked, and they say, had she asked, they would have said no, it’s not permitted under the rules. So do you acknowledge now that the secretary was wrong about the rules of the State Department?"In response,
Schake said that "what’s important here is what Hillary has said is that the report showed that previous secretaries of state set it up that way—"
"They said that she did it much more and used it in a much different way, and as, we like to point out, she’s the only one running for president right now," Berman said.
"Well what I think is very important here, and what I was about to say, is that Hillary herself has said it was a mistake," Schake said. "And she understands that voters have concerns about it. She’s out there answering questions about it because she really wants people to understand that she knows that it was a mistake."
"Was it a mistake because of all the trouble it’s caused in her mind. It’s like my kids. Is it a mistake because you got in trouble, or was it a mistake because she broke the rules?" Berman asked.
"As that report made clear, previous secretaries of state did the same, and the rules weren’t really clarified until after she left," Schake said. "But she said that in retrospect she wouldn’t have set it up that way if she had understood that the rules had been clear at that time. But again, she has apologized for this."
Schake downplayed the importance of the email story, saying voters care more about what Clinton will do as president and have cast their votes for her despite the media coverage that her private server use has received.
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell shot down the Clinton campaign’s response to the IG report last week, telling Morning Joe that "it was not allowed to not return those records before she left the State Department. She violated the official Records Act, according to her own State Department IG appointed by President Obama," Mitchell said. "What you have shown just now, Mika, completely undercuts the argument that she’s been making for more than a year. Just as she is trying to persuade voters that she is not untrustworthy."
Mitchell also rejected Clinton’s argument that past secretaries have had similar email practices.
"The comparison they’re making to Colin Powell; the facts are that Colin Powell was the first secretary of state to ever use email. He used it specifically to try to launch the State Department into the new century and try and get people to communicate by email. He was using it as an example
"[Powell] did use some personal emails; he didn’t always separate them, "Mitchell continued. "But it was a completely above board—everybody in the State Department knew what he was doing. It was not, in fact, violating rules that were put in place under Clinton, not after she left. It was put in place under Clinton, and she was warned beforehand of decades of this Records Act that prohibits you to leave the State Department, leave any agency, and not turn over your records."
The IG report details how multiple State Department officials shared their concerns about Clinton’s server to their superiors but were ignored. In one example, a senior official in Clinton’s office told two department employees to "never speak of the secretary’s personal email system again."