The White House emailed former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at a private email address during his time in charge of the Pentagon, according to an investigation by the News-4 I-Team.
Hagel used two separate BlackBerrys, one of which accessed a private email account and was used for at least a “limited number” of government emails, a Pentagon aide told the I-Team.
On at least one occasion, in October 2013, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough wrote to a group of US Cabinet Secretaries and copied a private address: email@example.com – an email that is believed to belong to Hagel.
McDonough wrote to the official, “.gov” email addresses of other Cabinet members. Hagel’s official, “.mil” email address is not seen, but "firstname.lastname@example.org" is listed as a recipient.
When asked about the Gmail account, a Pentagon spokesman said Hagel used two separate phones while serving as Secretary of Defense, including both a governmental and private email account.
“He understood the need to keep the two separate and to keep government business on his official e-mail," the spokesman said. "On some limited occasions an email may have been sent to or from the wrong account.”
A Pentagon spokesman says Hagel’s successor, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, also had separate personal and governmental email accounts.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on why McDonough used a private email address for a government email to a Cabinet member. She referred the I-Team to a prior statement from the White House press secretary about email practices.
The statement reads, “It’s the responsibility of the agencies to maintain their own records management plan, if you will, but they certainly do that in close coordination with the experts at NARA, at the National Archives and Records Administration.”
The Pentagon spokesman told the I-Team said personal email correspondence with other official accounts “would also be retained per policy.”
He said, “Emails received and created by the Secretary of Defense on official e-mail are maintained in accordance with the Federal Records Act (44 USC 3301), DoD and OSD policy and regulations."