NEW YORK – In a 750-page deposition released Thursday by the Washington watchdog Judicial Watch, a State Department employee designated to answer questions regarding Hillary Clinton’s private email system testified she could not rule out that Clinton or her top aides destroyed emails.
Karen Lang, who was the director of Clinton’s staff at the State Department, said she couldn’t be sure that all of the secretary’s emails had been retained because Clinton communicated with her top aides through the private email system.
She was asked if the State Department took any steps to ensure that Clinton’s or aide Huma Abedin’s emails were not lost or destroyed.
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“Again, as we stated earlier, at the time that the initial – the case initially went into litigation, the department was not in possession or control of former Secretary Clinton’s email collection, so it could not have take steps regarding those documents,” Lang said.
As the deposition progressed, Lang made clear the State Department would have captured Clinton’s and Abedin’s emails only if they were sent or received via the State Department’s secure email system. The State Department had no way of knowing anything about emails Clinton and Abedin sent or received via ClintonEmail.com to email addresses outside the State Department’s system.
Lang also testified the State Department could not say whether or not Clinton or Abedin has turned over all emails in their possession that may be responsive to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of the Information Act (FOIA) request.
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State Department cannot find all Clinton emails
In addition to testifying she could not rule out whether Clinton and Abedin’s emails had been destroyed or lost, Lang also admitted the State Department had no reasonable way to find all of the emails.
Lang further testified it would not be reasonable to search all 70,000 State Department email accounts to retrieve Clinton’s emails.
The admission appeared to refute Clinton’s suggestion that the State Department should be able to find and retrieve the vast majority of the emails she sent via her private server because she sent most of them to State Department employees on their government accounts.
“The practice – the way the State Department stores email records is by custodian, by the employee who sent or received those emails,” she testified. “So in order to search, for example, for Secretary Clinton’s emails, if they were stored in other custodians’ electronic archives, it would not be possible to do that except by searching individual-custodian-by-individual-custodian, which would not be reasonably possible.”
Asked by Judicial Watch attorneys why that was not possible, Lang answered the problem was that the State Department has 70,000 employees worldwide.
Lang’s testimony confirmed the State Department responses to Judicial Watch’s written interrogatories acknowledging it “has no method of identifying which State Department officials and employees had and/or used an account on clintonemail.com to conduct official government business.”
Clinton kept State record-keepers in dark
Lang further testified that despite the extensive arrangement for Clinton and Abedin to communicate via private BlackBerry units not connected to the State Department secure email system, key State Department federal record-keeping officials did not know that Clinton and were using private email to conduct government business.
Asked if anyone in the State Department record-keeping division with responsibility for responding to FOIA requests ever asked if Clinton was using an email without a state.gov address to conduct official government business, Lang answered simply, “No.”
The implication is that by bypassing the State Department’s secure email system, Clinton and Abedin had succeeded in making all such emails unrecoverable in FOIA requests.
Lang explained that State Department officials with responsibility for federal record-keeping first became aware and began to make inquiries about Clinton’s and Abedin’s use of ClintonEmail.com to conduct official government business over the summer of 2014, after Clinton had left the State Department.