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What Darrell Issa Thinks of State Department’s Response to His Question on Hillary Clinton’s Emails

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FILE - This April 10, 2014 file photo shows House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Separately Friday, Issa, one of several that have investigating Benghazi, said he would subpoena Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the administration’s response to the attack. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File\n

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called the State Department’s response to a congressional inquiry about Hillary Clinton’s private emails a “cover up, either by commission or omission,” adding it’s tough to believe someone at the department didn’t know Congress was misled.

Issa was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when he wrote the Dec. 13, 2012 letter to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other cabinet secretaries asking about private email use for public business. The department did not respond until March 27, 2013, more than a month after Clinton left office. The response stated a general email policy.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., questions IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs hearing, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington, investigating the IRS' targeting of conservative organizations. (AP Photo) AP Photo (AP Photo)

A Clinton aide told the New York Times “her usage was widely known to the over 100 department and U.S. government colleagues she emailed, as her address was visible on every email she sent.”

“If, as the Hillary Clinton campaign, said, that 100 people knew how she used email, it’s conceivable that none of those 100 knew about the very public letter that was sent, but there is a very slim chance,” Issa told TheBlaze.

Though sent in December 2012, the letter was not in response to Benghazi or a Clinton-related controversy. Rather it emerged from the probe of the Energy Department’s $500 million loan to the bankrupt solar energy firm Solyndra, where a government employee was found to be using private emails to subvert Freedom of Information Act.

The March response from the federal agencies was nearly identical, signed by different government staffers, Issa said. Issa believes the White House coordinated the collective response.

Issa’s December 2012 letter to Clinton and other cabinet secretaries asked, “Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business. If so, please identify the account used.”

The departments responded only that if an employees use a personal email account, they “should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.”

Issa said it is a problem for Clinton that no response was provided until after she left office.

“It is pertinent that it happened after she left office,” Issa said. “Not providing this information during her tenure would be a violation. After her tenure it could be taking government property.”

Issa added that a bigger issue is at stake: the public’s right and Congress’s right to obtain information about the executive branch.

“The American people have the right to know what their government is doing. After 9/11, you government knows more about you and you know less about your government,” Issa told TheBlaze. “The Freedom of Information Act is useless if government only provides the information they want you to have.”

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