Cummings Responds to FBI Release of Selected Documents on Clinton Email Investigation

Sep 2, 2016
Press Release

Democrats Invoke Federal Statute to Obtain Email Exchange From Colin Powell Advising Clinton on Personal Email Use


Washington, D.C. (Sept. 2, 2016) – Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released selected documents relating to its investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email use:

“I am encouraged that the FBI released some information today, but I am disappointed that it did not release all of the documents together, including documents relating to dozens of other senior officials who authored and sent emails that have now been deemed classified when they were sent.  Even with this limited production, however, the documents made public today demonstrate that our nation’s classification system is fundamentally broken and in desperate need of reform.”

One document that has never been provided to Congress and was not released today by the FBI is an email exchange in which former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised Secretary Clinton on the use of personal email two days after she was sworn in as Secretary.  This email exchange is referenced briefly in the documents released today by the FBI:

On January 23, 2009, Clinton contacted former Secretary of State Colin Powell via e-mail to inquire about his use of a BlackBerry while he was Secretary of State (January 2001 to January 2005).  In his e-mail reply, Powell warned Clinton that if it became “public” that Clinton had a BlackBerry, and she used it to “do business,” her e-mails could become “official record[s] and subject to the law.”  Powell further advised Clinton, “Be very careful.  I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”  Clinton indicated to the FBI that she understood Powell's comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell's comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal e-mail account.

Ranking Member Cummings has been attempting to obtain a copy of this email exchange, as well as answers to other basic questions about the process used to determine that emails to Secretary Clinton were classified when they were sent.

On July, 11, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey setting forth these questions.

On August 29, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter to Secretary Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reiterating these questions and requesting a copy of the Powell-Clinton email exchange.

Having received no response to these requests, today Oversight Committee Democrats sent a letter to Secretary Kerry invoking the “Seven Member Rule” to obtain a copy of full, unredacted email exchanges between Secretary Powell and Secretary Clinton in which Secretary Powell advised Secretary Clinton on the use of personal email.

The Seven Member Rule is unique authority passed by Congress and signed by the President in 1928 that requires any executive agency to “submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee” when requested by seven members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The Members requested the Powell-Clinton emails by September 6, 2016. 

114th Congress