Defense Secretary Ash Carter used a personal email account, and The New York Times has 72 emails

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has an email problem
(Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Late Wednesday, The New York Times reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had used a personal email account for official business for months after he took his place in President Obama's cabinet, including for at least two months after Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state came to light. The Times cited Pentagon and White House officials, but the newspaper also said it had used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain 72 emails between Carter and his chief of staff, Eric Fanning, who is now acting Army secretary.

Carter spokesman Peter Cook said that the defense secretary "believes that his previous, occasional use of personal email for work-related business, even for routine administrative issues and backed up to his official account, was a mistake." Carter "does not use his personal email or official email for classified material," Cook added, "does not directly email anyone within the department or the U.S. government except a very small group of senior advisers, usually his chief of staff," and has "stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether."

It seems likely that Carter violated a 2012 Defense Department ban on relying on personal email to conduct government business, The New York Times says, and he might have broken an executive order Obama signed last year, though a spokesman says Carter complied with the order by forwarding all work emails to his official account, to be stored on government servers. The Times says the 72 emails it has show "Carter and his aides discussing a variety of matters, including legislation, television appearances, and how to pay for a hotel bill."

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