Hillary Clinton supporters have defended her use of a private email account to conduct official State Department business by arguing that she emailed colleagues at their government addresses, ensuring that a copy of the correspondence would be retained on government servers and available to archivists. As it turns out, some aides to Hillary Clinton also used private email addresses. But even if Team Hillary's initial claim had held together, it wouldn't matter. Public records laws encompass not just correspondence with other government employees but also emails with third parties about government business.
That's why a particular email flagged by J.K. Trotter is important. Back in 2013, a hacker secured access to the private email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a staffer in Bill Clinton's White House. The hacker sent screenshots of his inbox to various news outlets, including Gawker. "According to those screenshots, Blumenthal was regularly sending Clinton what appeared to be freelance intelligence reports—including information and advice about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya—all of which clearly fell under the rubric of official State Department business," Trotter writes. "At the time, Gawker noted that Clinton’s apparent use of the non-official account likely violated federal regulations governing records retention, and sent inquiries directly to Clinton and to the White House asking if messages to the clintonemail.com address were being retained."