Top Bush Email Critic: "Distinction" Between What Clinton And Bush White House Did

Former Rep. Henry Waxman, who railed against Karl Rove's use of private email, says the office of the presidency is different than other government offices. Some Hill Democrats offer a cautious defense of Clinton.

WASHINGTON — The former top congressional investigator who looked into Karl Rove's use of a private email system during the George W. Bush administration said there was a "distinction" between what Rove did and Hillary Clinton's exclusive use of her personal email while serving as secretary of state possibly in violation of the Federal Records Act.

Former Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman investigated Rove and other Bush White House officials in 2007 after the firing of eight U.S. attorneys and it was revealed that administration officials were using a private email system and blackberries provided by the Republican National Committee, in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Many of the emails had been lost.

Waxman, in an interview with BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, cautioned that he "didn't know the precise law that would apply to Secretary Clinton." While Waxman said he believed that she should turn all those records over there was a "distinction, though, between the presidency of the United States and other people in government."

"We were looking violations of the Presidential Records Act, not the Federal Records Act. It was very difficult and we had to go through a great deal of trouble to get those emails reconstructed," Waxman said. "From what I know about Secretary Clinton, she's going to turn her emails over. Presumably those emails will be recovered."

Waxman, who served as the chairman of the Government and Oversight Committee from 2007 to 2009, said at the time that the White House had set up the separate accounts to "to avoid creating a record of the communications."

While he maintains that Clinton can and should turn over all of her emails under the Federal Records Act, he said his sense was that she was "turning them over and getting out in front of" the story.

Other Hill Democrats were cautious in their defense of Clinton and many of them claimed they had not been following the story closely.

"She'll be required to provide some answers," said Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, who cautioned was not aware of all the details. "And I think that's appropriate."

Raul Grijalva, a progressive Democrat, said he was not convinced that Clinton's personal email use was "a huge issue" but that Clinton had not yet clarified what happened and whether she had turned all of the personal emails over.

"The policy at hand has to be clarified and quickly. She used a personal email adress, did she turn all of the emails over? I think the sooner that's clarified the better off this issue is going to be," he said. "You have to answer it, though, it just doesn't go away."

Joe Crowley, the vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus and a supporter of Clinton's, was confident that Clinton would come out OK in the end.

"My sense is that she's been through a lot of these things before as first lady, as senator, as secretary of state," he said. "She's been through a lot and I think it's helped prepare her to be the president of the United States if she chooses to run for that. My understanding is they are providing and will provide all the pertinent emails that are requested or needed."

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