Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS investigative reporter whose book Stonewalled exposed liberal bias, was interviewed on Newsmax TV’s MidPoint to discuss the current Clinton scandal of conducting State Department business through personal email accounts. Attkisson says this type of conduct fits a certain pattern of federal bureaus to steer clear of official forms of communication in order to cover themselves from the public:
"I'm not saying it's only in this administration…We know that under this administration, high-ranking officials in various federal agencies have claimed that they didn't understand — or had reasons not to follow — federal law that requires certain sorts of record retention, including for official email correspondence… This has happened, I believe, at the IRS, with HHS," she said, in reference to those agencies targeting conservative PACs and misrepresenting the Affordable Care Act.
“I think that they try and find ways in which they could legally defend that they did act perhaps within the letter of the law, but getting around the intent of the law. In other words, I think they look for ways, this administration, sometimes the last administration, to use text messages, to use alternate forms of communication.
Attkisson discussed the time when she was working on a story about the ACA's online insurance marketplace:
“I’ve been told on a story I’m working on regarding healthcare.gov an official was specifically told -- don’t email things, we don’t want to create email records. They are very cognizant now that these records are public records and can, theoretically, if they get turned over properly, be seen by the public. So if anyone thinks that people might be doing something the public doesn’t like aren’t scheming ways to get around the idea these records could be disclosed are being naïve, because I think that’s going on all the time.”
She also sounded doubtful about those who say “that Clinton broke no laws in using a private email account for affairs of state, that she informed work-related email recipients of their obligation to retain the correspondence, and that her staff has reviewed and turned over thousands of the emails in question on demand.”
"That doesn't make sense… You would have to know the names of those people and how to get their emails and request those things," she said.
Those who defend Clinton think “as long as the email recipients kept everything, the records have been properly retained within the spirit and the letter of the law.”
Attkisson also believes that there are ethical issues when it comes to conducting business with personal email accounts and personal servers:
"But it seems to me that it's at least inappropriate, or disingenuous for a federal official to put themselves in a position of being able to filter through and basically on their own — especially if they're accused of potential wrongdoing — decide what records get turned over."
She also expressed concern for future communication protocol when it comes to government agencies:
"And if people at the highest levels aren't following federal law or claiming they don't understand it, what's the law there for? Who's going to follow it at all, if not people at the very top?"