Nearly a decade after Hillary Clinton began using personal devices and a private email server while Secretary of State – a practice that sparked a heated debate and congressional investigations during the 2016 presidential election cycle – an early impeachment probe into President Trump revealed that diplomats in the administration used WhatsApp and their personal mobile phones to conduct State Department business as it related to Ukraine.
Their use may have violated State Department and federal record-keeping rules, which require the secret missives – considered to be official records – be archived within 20 days.
A controversial call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressed the country’s new leader to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, prompted the House to begin a preliminary impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions. Resulting testimony by U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker before the House Intelligence Committee last week was accompanied by the release of encrypted emails regarding Ukraine between diplomats using their personal phones.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a vocal critic of Clinton’s when he sat on the Benghazi committee, recently “upclassified” some of the emails sent by officials who communicated with the former New York senator during her tenure at the State Department. But Pompeo has pushed back against efforts by the House Intelligence Committee to depose diplomats associated with the department’s Ukraine initiatives.