According to a 2015 State Department inspector general report, in 2011, only 61,156 department emails out of a billion are formally archived, a rate of far less than one percent. In 2013, the number is even lower, only 41,749. Clinton will later justify her use of a private email address by claiming that her emails to other government officials would be permanently archived through their email accounts. (Politico, 3/11/2015)
She says, “The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”
But the next day, a State Department inspector general’s report is released which refutes this, showing statistics that far less than one percent of emails were permanently archived. (Politico, 3/11/2015)
Despite the evidence to the contrary, Clinton will continue to make similar assertions. For instance, on September 20, 2015, she will claim that “more than 90 percent [of my emails] were already in the system.” (The Washington Post, 11/9/2015)
On March 10, 2015, Clinton claimed that her decision to use a private email account “for convenience” didn’t interfere with the State Department’s ability to retrieve those emails later. But a March 11, 2015 inspector general report highlights how poorly the department has permanently archived emails.
For instance, in 2011, only 61,156 department emails out of a billion were formally archived, a rate of far less than one percent. In 2013, the number—41,749—was even lower.
The report suggests that most employees “who did not use record emails as intended [said] they were usually unaware of what types of information should be saved as record emails. The department does not give employees adequate training to distinguish between information that should be preserved as records and information that may be discarded.” Furthermore, “Many interviewees expressed a fear that if participants in a debate knew that their opinions would be permanently recorded or accessible in searches, they would not express their opinions in an uninhibited manner.” (Politico, 3/11/2015)
Tom Blanton, director of the government’s National Security Archive, comments, “Just because [Clinton] sent to people at ‘state.gov’ addresses, it’s not at all a guarantee that it’s been preserved.” Additionally, “When an official leaves office, and most of her direct aides in fact have left the State Department, within 90 days the IT [information technology] folks at State wipe out their accounts unless there’s a special intervention.” (National Public Radio, 3/11/2015)
Testifying before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015, Clinton argues that it doesn’t matter if she used a private email address because the State Department “had between 90 and 95 percent of all my work-related emails in the State Department system.”
When asked how she knows this, she says, “We learned that from the State Department and their analysis of the emails that were already on the system. We were trying to help them close some gaps that they had.” (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)
However, the next day, the State Department says the number didn’t come from any State Department analysis but was created by the Clinton campaign. A State Department inspector general report from earlier in 2015 showed that far less than one percent of all emails were permanently preserved by the State Department.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker reviews Clinton’s statement and gives it three out of four “Pinocchios.” (The Washington Post, 11/9/2015)