McCain launches review of Pentagon chief’s personal email account

The Senate Armed Services Committee is launching a review of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s use of a personal email account for government business.

“With all the public attention surrounding the improper use of personal email by other Administration officials, it is hard to believe that Secretary Carter would exercise the same error in judgment,” Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday in a statement.

{mosads}”The Senate Armed Services Committee has requested copies of the emails and will be conducting a review to ensure that sensitive information was not compromised,” he said.

The New York Times reported that Carter relied on a personal email account for some of his official duties during his first months at the Pentagon and continued doing so for at least two months after it was revealed in March that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a personal email account as secretary of State. 

Clinton’s use of a personal account hosted on a private server has stirred considerable controversy and sparked an FBI investigation into whether any classified materials were mishandled.

A former aide to Carter told the newspaper that the Defense secretary used the personal account “so frequently that members of his staff feared he would be hacked and worried about his not following the rules.”  

Officials said White House chief of staff Denis McDonough learned of the account in May and directed the White House Counsel’s Office to contact the Pentagon about it.

Carter now believes using the personal account “was a mistake,” according to Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.

“After reviewing his email practices earlier this year, the secretary believes that his previous, occasional use of personal email for work-related business, even for routine administrative issues and backed up to his official account, was a mistake,” Cook said. 

“As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether,” Cook said. 

Cook said any work-related email sent to his personal account was “copied or forwarded to his official account to be preserved as a federal record as appropriate.”  

The spokesman also said Carter does not use his personal or official email for classified material. 

“He is confident that his work-related email has been and will continue to be preserved within the federal records system,” he added. 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he believes it would be “appropriate” for Carter to ask the DOD Inspector General to assess that no classified material was transmitted over unsecured channels. 
“It would be prudent for this assessment to extend to Secretary Carter’s time as Deputy Secretary of Defense as well. Congress should be briefed on the results,” he said in a statement. 

The Times reported that Carter’s actions violated Defense Department rules barring employees from using personal email to conduct government business. 

Carter also may have violated a law signed by President Obama last year directing federal officials not to send or receive emails on personal accounts unless they were copied directly into government accounts or forwarded to a government account within 20 days. 

Tags Denis McDonough Hillary Clinton John McCain

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