SecDef Carter admits that he, too, used personal email for official business

( As the FBI continues its investigation into the use by former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton of a personal email server to conduct official business, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has also used personal email in an official capacity, in violation of Pentagon rules, The New York Times reported.

What’s more, the paper reported, Carter continued the practice for at least two months after Clinton’s improper exclusive use of a personal email account was revealed in March, officials said.

It’s unclear when Carter stopped using his personal account. However, an administration official told the Times that when White House Chief of Staff Denis R. McDonough learned about Carter’s personal email, he directed the White House Counsel’s Office to inquire why Carter was doing so. An official said McDonough wanted to make sure that Carter was following all federal laws and regulations that government the use of personal email.

In a written statement, a spokesman for Carter said he had determined that he was wrong to use a personal email account.

“After reviewing his email practices earlier this year, the secretary believes that his previous, occasional use of personal email for work-related business, even for routine administrative issues and backed up to his official account, was a mistake,” said the spokesman, Peter Cook, according to the Times. “As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether.”

This amounts to the second time a high-ranking national security official within the Obama administration has been caught using personal email. The government has rules against such personal email account use primarily because of fear that secret information could be compromised or stolen. Also, the discovery could fuel new Republican charges against the administration’s lax safeguards regarding sensitive government data.

It wasn’t clear how many work-related emails Carter sent and received from his personal email account. For her part, Clinton said she sent and received some 30,000 work-related emails on her personal server over the four years she was secretary of state. While there was no prohibition at the State Department regarding exclusive use of a private server, federal law requires special handling of top-secret intelligence, and FBI investigators have discovered Clinton received at least two top-secret emails on her personal server.

The Times reported further:

In September, The Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all emails from the personal account that Mr. Carter sent or received with his chief of staff at the time, Eric Fanning, during the month of April. In November, the Defense Department provided The Times with 72 work-related emails that Mr. Carter sent or received from his personal email account. The emails show that Mr. Carter used an iPhone and iPad to send the messages, and that Mr. Carter was emailing Mr. Fanning and other top aides on their government email addresses.

Carter’s spokesman downplayed his boss’ use of personal email, saying he mostly used it for correspondence with friends and family.

“Any email related to work received on this personal account, such as an invitation to speak at an event or an administrative issue, is copied or forwarded to his official account so it can be preserved as a federal record as appropriate,” Cook said.

“Secretary Carter strongly prefers to conduct communications on the phone or in person, and like many of his predecessors rarely uses email for official government business. The secretary does not directly email anyone within the department or the U.S. government except a very small group of senior advisers, usually his chief of staff.”

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See also:

The New York Times

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