A high-ranking State Department official admitted Wednesday that the department is taking Hillary Clinton at her word when she says she has handed over all work-related emails that she created from her personal email account when she was secretary of state.
Joyce Barr, assistant secretary of state for administration, was questioned at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who asked if the department actually has all of Clinton's work-related emails. Barr said the State Department has "all the emails that she's released to us," and Cornyn asked if there was any way to verify that all emails have in fact been turned over.
"We have been told that she has provided those to us," Barr said.
"Who told you that?" Cornyn asked.
"The secretary," she replied. Cornyn then asked if that meant the State Department was "taking her word for it," and Barr replied, "yes, sir."
Republicans have said Clinton alone should not be able to decide which of her emails would become part of the public record. Some GOP lawmakers have said a third party needs to assess this, instead of leaving it to Clinton.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi has asked Clinton to testify only on her use of personal emails, which the committee says may be obstructing their investigation into the 2012 attacks in Libya. The committee wants Clinton to appear twice, but Clinton said this week that she would only appear once.
Barr said that since the Clinton email scandal, State has since warned its employees that it is "not acceptable" to use your own email system while working for the department.
"We continue to do training, but we've sent department notices, telegrams, we've talked to directors, and I think the message is loud and clear that that is not acceptable," she said.
But at the same time, Barr seemed hesitant to get Clinton in any trouble for what she did. For example, Barr did not seem too troubled by the idea that Clinton's email system may have been at risk of being hacked. Cornyn asked if Barr was aware of any attempts to protect Clinton's information, and when Barr said she had no information, Cornyn asked if the security of the private server concerned her in any way.
"Uh...perhaps," she said.
Barr also seemed to dodge the implication that Clinton may have set up her own personal email in order to keep some of her emails private.
"Are you concerned ... that there would be a pre-meditated and deliberate attempt by a member, by a high-level official in the United States government to set up a personal email system in a way that would circumvent all the laws that Congress has passed to enforce the public's right to know, including the Freedom of Information laws?" Cornyn asked. "Does that concern you?"
"You're asking me if I would be concerned if a cabinet member deliberately set up an email account to circumvent the laws," Barr replied. "In theory, yes."
"Yes," she said.