A State Department Audit Faults Clinton On Emails

On Wednesday, a State Department audit blamed Hillary Clinton for mismanaging electronic communications while Secretary of State. Along with the presidential candidate, previous Secretaries of State were also faulted for the way they managed their computer information and slowly responded to new cybersecurity risks. The review by the State Department's inspector general came amid the highly publicized "Emailgate" scandal related to Clinton using a private email account and server for work-related messages.

The 78-page report cites "long-standing, systemic weaknesses" surrounding communications, which began before Clinton's time in office, but became more serious, according to the Associated Press. The report says the department was "slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership."

In March, Clinton tried to write off the scandal by saying her predecessors did the same thing, and the audit confirms that's true. "It wasn't the best choice," she said at the Miami Democratic debate. "I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed, and as I’ve said and now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing, and many other people in the government." Of course, only the last few Secretaries of State have even used email, so the problem was magnified by Clinton's constant online communications.

An aid to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under Bill Clinton, told MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald that Albright "did not use email while she was in office," as it wasn't as prevalent in the early 1990s. A little later though, George W. Bush's first secretary of state, Colin Powell, used a personal laptop and email account to "shoo[t] emails to my principal assistants, to individual ambassadors, and increasingly to my foreign-minister colleagues," he wrote in his memoir. Condoleezza Rice also used a separate email for some communications while in office — bothering no one.

However, the audit states that Clinton didn't ask senior information officers for approval before using her private account, claiming they would have refused the request because of security risks. "By Secretary Clinton's tenure, the department's guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated," it said. "Secretary Clinton's cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives."

Separate from the audit, the FBI is investigating whether her loose email practices gave up classified information, and will likely interview the presidential hopeful herself soon. Earlier in May, Clinton told CBS's Face the Nation the FBI had not yet reached out to her, and said she is "more than ready to talk." Clinton added: "I hope that this is close to being wrapped up."