Hillary Clinton announced late on Thursday night, on Twitter, that she will release her emails to the public after allegations that she used them to duck information requests. The former secretary of state is being investigated by a House committee after it was revealed she used a private email address and server for official work.
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015
On Wednesday, a House committee investigating the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, issued a subpoena requesting that the State Department investigate Clinton’s use of a private email address for official purposes, which was reportedly traced back to a private server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. Gawker had reported Tuesday, citing an anonymous source, that at least two of Clinton's top aides also used private email addresses based on the same server for official purposes.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press said it is considering legal action against the State Department to pursue unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for government documents relating to Clinton’s actions during her time as secretary of state.
In its requests, the AP asked for all her schedules and calendars from her time with the State Department, and for details on the decision behind the appointment of Huma Abedin as Clinton’s aide, as well as documents relating to Clinton’s role in the raid on the Osama bin Laden's house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and National Security Agency surveillance measures. The AP said the requests date from March 2010 onwards.
“We believe it’s critically important that government officials and agencies be held accountable to the voters,” AP’s general counsel, Karen Kaiser, told The New York Times. “In this instance, we’ve exhausted our administrative remedies in pursuit of important documents and are considering legal action.”
The threatened action comes after it came to light that Clinton allegedly used a private email account linked to a private server in her New York home as a way of avoiding public information requests from news organizations such as AP and Gawker. Politico also reported that it had Clinton-related FOIA requests pending for at least three years.
A provision in the FOIA law allows requests to be expedited if the information being requested is considered newsworthy. AP said its requests were linked to Clinton’s possible 2016 run for president, a decision Clinton has said she will finalize soon.
The AP speculated that Clinton may have used a private email address because of frequent cyberattacks against the State Department’s mail server. In 2006 and 2014, the State Department suffered major electronic infiltrations, with the department shutting down its entire email system in response to the most recent incident.
A Clinton aide told Politico that Clinton's use of a private email was not "nefarious," adding that, "She had a Blackberry, she used it prior to State, and like her predecessors she continued to use it when she got to State.”
But, Katie Packer Gage, a Republican strategist who worked for Mitt Romney, told International Business Times that the latest allegations could prove to be a huge political cost, reinforcing an image of her as secretive and unapproachable. She said there are two steps Clinton needs to take to mitigate the potential damage from the e-mails: apologize and release them to the public.
"Say 'This was a mistake, I see that now this was a mistake and I shouldn't have handled it this way," Packer Gage said. "Second, that she opens up all of her emails that have any mentions of official business."