Opinion

Classic Trey Gowdy cross-examination: Does President Obama have a private email server?

The State Department is taking Hillary Clinton’s word for it.

That was the message Wednesday when a State Department employee testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, telling lawmakers she relied on former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton’s assurances that all relevant emails had been turned over, just as they do with all other employees.

“Like we do with other federal employees we have to depend on them to provide that information to us,” Chief State Department Freedom of Information Act Officer Joyce Barr said.

Rep. Trey Gowdy pounced.

Gently, but with assurance of what the answers would be, the South Carolina Republican led Barr through questions to show no other high-ranking official in the Obama administration  was in a position to provide such assurances.

“Well, you mentioned other federal employees which got me wondering… Attorney General Holder — did he have his own server?” Gowdy asked.

Her answer was no.

“How about new Attorney General Lynch? Does she have a personal server?”

No again.

“What about President Obama — is there any indication — because if you’re going to pursue the theory of convenience, I can’t really imagine a busier person on the globe than President Obama,” Gowdy said, recalling Clinton’s excuse that she used a private server as a matter of convenience. “Did he have his own personal server?”

Barr said she had no direct knowledge of the president’s email arrangements.

Then Gowdy got to the point.

“Because of this arrangement that Secretary Clinton had with herself, you’re not in a position to do it the same as you would with any other public official because Vice President Biden and President Obama don’t have their personal attorneys going through their emails to decide what to return and what not to return,” he explained.

He suggested having the State Department inspector general sift through everything to determine what emails are private and what are official.

You have been put in the position of having to take a lawyer’s word that you have all the public records. And perhaps it’s just the cynicism of actually being a lawyer — I’m just wondering who with the fiduciary duty to the public can make sure that the public record is complete. Instead of the former secretary hiring an attorney to do it, why can’t the attorney that works for all of us — why can’t the inspector general do it?

“I really can’t speculate on that,” Barr said.

“Well, I’m out of time, hopefully we can get some more time and we can speculate together,” Gowdy concluded.

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