WASHINGTON DC – Former top Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills testified that Clinton’s personal emails to people outside the State Department were not available for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, meaning that Clinton apparently violated federal record-keeping law.
Mills also said that Clinton did not have a practice of printing out her emails for record-keeping, according to the transcript of Mills’ deposition in the civil case filed by the transparency group Judicial Watch, released Tuesday.
These bombshell revelations could add to the growing criminal case against Clinton, who is still under FBI investigation for her use of a private email server instead of a government-run server that would record her emails and also shield them from hackers.
As mandated by the Federal Records Act and reflected in 5 FAM 400, the Department must create and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions or operations of the Department and U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Missions abroad.
Here are some key excerpts from Mills’ deposition:
Clinton’s email account was not available to FOIA requests
ATTORNEY: Okay. So the Executive Secretariat’s office who manage the records, let’s say with the FOIA requests that implicated the Secretary’s e-mail, how did they go about searching for the Secretary’s e-mails in response to a FOIA request —
MILLS: So I don’t know —
ATTORNEY: — for her e-mail?
MILLS: I don’t know what their process was for how they went about that. Yeah. I don’t.
ATTORNEY: Okay. Did they have access to the Secretary’s e-mail account so they could search her e-mails in response to the FOIA request?
MILLLS: To my knowledge, they did not have access to her e-mail account. To my knowledge, the information where her e-mail was — if there was a topic that would have been related, would have been in the communications that she would have either had on paper, communications that she would have had in other materials that she received, or in exchanges that she had with e-mail with individuals on their State account.
ATTORNEY: And what about if the subject matter contained communications between the Secretary and others outside of the State Department?
MILLS: So I don’t know what would have been their process for how they would have captured that. And I think that’s one of the things that is a challenge and one of the things that I think as the Secretary has spoken about, it would have been smarter for her to have had or better for her to have had an account. And if she had it to do over again, she would…
…ATTORNEY: Okay. So did it ever occur to you when — from 2009 to 2013, before you left, that communications between the Secretary and, let’s say, you, to your personal e-mail account, that related to State business, that those actually weren’t available to the government or to the State Department to respond to FOIA requests?
MILLS: I wish it had. But no is the answer. In the sense of I was an overwhelming user of the State Department system. And so most of my communications with her and everybody else was on the State system. And I don’t think I reflected on were there occasions where there might still be something with respect to a personal e-mail where someone had either e-mailed me or I had responded back or the system had been down and we ultimately needed to use it, that there was information that hadn’t been captured. And I wish it had.
Clinton did not have a process to print and save her emails, to Mills’ knowledge
MILLS: So I’m not familiar with a practice where she would print and save her e-mails. I obviously have seen a lot of e-mails where she would say, Please print. But I don’t know that she had a practice of printing and saving her e-mails.
A FOIA requests for information related to the Secretary came in to the front office, which in that instance would be the Executive Secretariat and the supporting staff. I can’t speak to what processes or protocols they went to. And I don’t want to understate them or overstate them. I don’t know.
Clinton used her non-secure Blackberry to send and receive emails on her personal account
MILLS: When Secretary Clinton arrived at the State Department, she was using an AT&T BlackBerry.
ATTORNEY: Was that her personal BlackBerry?
MILLS: The AT&T account was not a State BlackBerry, or an e-mail address.
ATTORNEY: Okay. But the BlackBerry, was that a State Department BlackBerry, or was it personal?
MILLS: Oh, the device itself was her device.
ATTORNEY: Okay. And when she transitioned, did she — from her AT&T e-mail account, did she get a new BlackBerry?
MILLS: I don’t know the answer to that question.
ATTORNEY: But when she transitioned to the Clinton e-mail, did she use that e-mail address to communicate via her BlackBerry at the State Department?
ATTORNEY: Okay. Was Secretary Clinton ever issued a — a BlackBerry from the State Department so she could e-mail?
MILLS: Not to my knowledge.
ATTORNEY: Okay. Were you?
Clinton had an office set up across the hall from her own office where she used her non-secure Blackberry outside of a secure zone (“SCIF”)
MILLS: So the State Department had advised — their diplomatic security team had advised that she could not use and none of the staff could use a BlackBerry inside the SCIF. Whether or not it was State or not issued by State, you couldn’t use a BlackBerry inside the SCIF. And so in order to be able to check your BlackBerrys, you needed to leave the seventh floor area where all our offices were. And so if you walked outside in the hallway or if you went to the counsel’s office, in her instance that would be an area that was not inside a secure space, and you could check your BlackBerry, whether or not that was a State BlackBerry or — or not a State BlackBerry…
…Inside. Secretary Clinton’s office is 100 percent inside the SCIF.
ATTORNEY: Okay. So the discussions with respect to the office across the hall, that’s in a different office from — that’s outside the Secretary’s office. Correct?
MILLS: That’s outside the Secretary’s office.
MILLS: It’s also outside of the SCIF. So anyone can check their State or non-State BlackBerrys inside that office space.
ATTORNEY: Okay. Was the office set up across the hall for Secretary Clinton to use?
Hillary’s email system was added to her husband’s server and the system was used by Bill Clinton’s personal staff
MILLS: The [outside] server preexisted Secretary Clinton’s arrival at the State Department. President Clinton had established a server for the purposes of his own staff office, and — and her — her e-mail was subsequently put on that. That was not information I had contemporaneous knowledge of. It is information that I’ve come to learn over the course of my time period since then…
…So I’m not sure how to answer your question. But maybe I should answer it what your goal — I don’t know what your goal is. But, in other words, the server was in place at the Clinton’s residence prior to Secretary Clinton becoming Secretary. It subsequently was upgraded. And it was being used for the President’s personal staff, and her e-mail was put on that server.
Mills believes that Clinton’s email server went down during Hurricane Sandy (It did):
ATTORNEY: Okay. You don’t have — but do you have a recollection with respect to Secretary Clinton 10 having an issue with her e-mails, either receiving or sending e-mails to people she was wanting to communicate with?…
…MILLS: So to step back, the State Department system also had a set of challenges. So sometimes there would be challenges that were with the State Department system. Sometimes there were natural disasters, Sandy, and that would affect everybody’s e-mail system, State Department’s e-mail system, potentially her e-mails. If your question is am I aware of that kind of engagement with respect to the e-mails, yes. I don’t have any more specific knowledge that I recall. So there might be things that happened and contemporaneously I knew. I don’t recall anything else.
ATTORNEY: Okay. During — you mentioned Hurricane Sandy.
ATTORNEY: Was Secretary Clinton’s e-mail down?
MILLS: I believe so. That’s my best recollection, but I could be wrong about that. It might not have been affected.