Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton had the right to delete personal e-mails from her private server, the US Department of Justice has told a US federal court.
Lawyers for the government made the assertion in a filing this week with the US District Court in Washington, part of a public records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that seeks access to Clinton’s e-mails.
Clinton has said that she sent and received about 60,000 e-mails during her four years in US President Barack Obama’s administration, about half of which were personal and deleted.
The others were turned over to the US Department of State.
The FBI has been investigating the security of Clinton’s e-mail setup, which she said she used as a matter of convenience.
She has since acknowledged that her use of a private e-mail server to conduct government business was a mistake and this week apologized.
Clinton said that she had the right under government rules to decide which e-mails were private and to delete them.
This week’s filing puts the Justice Department’s approval on Clinton’s claim.
“There is no question that former secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal e-mails without agency supervision — she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” attorneys from the Justice Department’s civil division wrote.
Judicial Watch had requested a court order from the judge to preserve Clinton’s e-mails, but the Justice Department said there was no need for such an order, given that Clinton had the right to delete personal e-mails and that those messages are not subject to the public records law.
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