State Department policy barred Hillary Clinton from mixing personal, work email

Hillary Clinton’s explanation that she used her own email server because she didn’t want to carry around two devices struck some as an odd rationale. But it fits with State Department policy at the time.

The department’s security policy basically forbade employees from having a mobile device on which they could use its built-in mail application to connect to a State Department account and other accounts at the same time, according to department spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a press conference on Thursday. The policy allowed users to check State Department email accounts only on a department-issued device, she said. And it barred users from connecting the mail programs on those devices to personal or other accounts, Psaki said.

That policy was in place during Clinton’s tenure and wasn’t changed until last year, she said.

“Some of you may have devices today or it’s capable today of having a personal and a work email on the same device. So that wasn’t permitted at the time,” Psaki said.

Clinton has been caught up in a controversy over her use of a personal email server during her time as Secretary of State. Clinton used the server for both personal and work-related email, instead of using a State Department issued address for the latter. Her use of the personal server came to light after she was asked to hand over email related to her time in office. She says she’s handed over 55,000 pages of email that excludes personal correspondence that she and her aides culled out. Questions have been raised about whether she violated government policies that require government business to be conducted on government email accounts.

Although the controversy has been brewing since early this month, Clinton didn’t address the issue personally until earlier this week. At a press conference on Tuesday, she explained that she used her own email server out of “convenience.” She didn’t want to carry around two devices to be able to check both work and personal email, she said.

The explanation struck some observers as strange, because smartphone owners have long been able to use the devices’ built-in mail applications to check email from multiple accounts, both personal and work-issued. Psaki made clear that the limitation Clinton faced was not a shortcoming of the devices themselves but due to the department’s security protocols.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, State Department policy would have allowed Clinton to check her personal email through the Web browser on a department-issued device. But according to Psaki, Clinton used a personal smartphone, not one issued by the department. According to Psaki, the State Department did not require officials to carry a department-issued device.

Photo: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after a keynote at a Women’s Empowerment Event at the United Nations on March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as Secretary of State. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)


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