Top State Department Record-Keeper Says He Warned Clinton Team on Emails

July 2, 2019 Updated: July 3, 2019

WASHINGTON—Former Department of State Director of Information Programs and Services (IPS) John Hackett warned key Hillary Clinton aides about their failure to preserve official business emails on her private server, Judicial Watch announced July 2.

“Well, we heard that there were 50,000 or 60,000 emails, and that they had—‘they’ being the secretary’s team—had culled out 30,000 of these,” Hackett told Judicial Watch during a recent deposition.

The nonprofit government watchdog made the Hackett deposition public July 2. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and used a private email system throughout her tenure to conduct official diplomatic business.

Hackett went on to explain that he “wanted to know what criteria they used” in culling the 30,000 emails because “the standard from the National Archives is very strict.”

The National Archives oversees record preservation throughout the federal government.

“If there was, if there were mixed records, that would be considered a federal record,” Hackett told Judicial Watch. “If it was mixed personal and mentioned a discussion, that would be, under the narrow National Archives rules, it would be considered a federal record.”

Hackett said he first raised the issue in an emphatic manner with then-Under-Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, a member of Clinton’s inner circle of most-trusted aides.

“I have to say, it was emphatic to [Kennedy] and I didn’t speak in tones like that very often to him, you know, that we needed these, you know, the guidelines,” Hackett said.

He told Judicial Watch he thinks he may also have raised the issue with a second State Department official, Rich Visek of the Office of Legal Adviser.

Asked if the National Archives guidelines for how the emails were to be preserved were ever provided to Kennedy or others working for Clinton, Hackett replied, “not during my tenure at the State Department.”

Hackett worked at the department from April 2013 to March 2016.

Hackett’s office also was responsible for overseeing State Department responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

He told Judicial Watch that he saw a news photo of Clinton using a BlackBerry in 2013; he was the IPS deputy director at the time.

“And that got me thinking that, well, what, what was that BlackBerry? Was it a government BlackBerry? And if so, where were the emails relating to that BlackBerry,” Hackett said he wondered at the time.

Because the BlackBerry issue could be important in responding to multiple FOIAs, Hackett said he raised the issue with then-IPS Director Sheryl Walter “and suggested that we had to be careful about what sort of responses we made relating to Hillary Clinton’s emails … if there was a ‘No Record Located’ response that was being given out.

“In fact, I advised Sheryl that we should stop giving No Record Located responses until we come to … find out what that BlackBerry meant, come to ground about what was known about the former secretary’s emailing habits.”

Walter agreed with him, Hackett said.

In a related FOIA issue, Hackett said there was “interference in the FOIA review process in 2014, with IPS officials being instructed to use the “B5 exemption” for “deliberative process prior to a decision,” rather than the “B1 exemption” for national security considerations in responding to requests that involved Clinton’s emails.

The B5 exemption is most frequently used by government officials to deny documents sought by FOIA requesters because its ambiguity makes it the easiest to defend in court.

Hackett’s deposition is the sixth made public by Judicial Watch concerning Clinton’s email.

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