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Obama-Biden admin defended use of ‘alternate email addresses’ long before Biden’s aliases were revealed

The Obama-Biden White House said in 2013 it believed using “alternate email addresses" for high-ranking officials made “eminent sense."

President Biden has taken fire this week for reportedly using aliases and “secret” email addresses as vice president in messages to his son Hunter Biden, who had business in Ukraine at the time. Under former President Obama’s administration, White House officials defended the use of alternate email addresses.

During a 2013 press briefing, the Obama-Biden White House, amid accusations that individuals within the administration had been using “secret” email addresses for correspondence, highlighted its belief that using “alternate email addresses” for high-ranking officials made “eminent sense.”

While fielding questions from reporters at the briefing, Jay Carney, White House press secretary at the time, was asked about a story from The Associated Press that claimed a variety of senior administration officials possessed secret email addresses.


Additionally, Carney was asked by the same reporter what the protocol would be for the administration to release that correspondence via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and whether the contents from both email addresses — or just the public one or the “secret” one — would be released should there be a congressional inquiry about a given subject.

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“Let’s be clear — this is a practice consistent with prior administrations of both parties, and, as the story itself made clear, any FOIA request or congressional inquiry includes a search in all of the email accounts used by any political appointee,” Carney responded.

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“So the answer is, all of this information is provided. Having alternate email addresses for cabinet secretaries and other high-profile officials makes eminent sense, much as it does for columnists, for example, of major publications who provide email addresses for their readers but have alternate work email addresses so that if they are inundated in one account with either public emails or spam or the like, that they can continue to use their other account for normal work,” he added. 

“And that is the case with officials of this administration, officials of the previous administrations who have had email addresses.

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“And the fundamental question here, in terms of FOIA requests and congressional inquiries, is that all of these email addresses are included.”

The decade-old acknowledgment by the Obama-Biden White House comes into play as Republicans in the House continue to investigate Biden’s involvement with his family’s overseas business dealings and request certain email communications he had during his time as vice president.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to the National Archives Wednesday requesting unredacted emails from President Biden’s tenure as vice president, when Biden allegedly used a handful of pseudonyms to correspond with others.

Specifically, Comer is looking to review unredacted versions of emails released by the National Archives under “Case Number 2023-0022-F,” titled on the agency’s website as “Email Messages To and/or From Vice President Biden and Hunter Biden related to Burisma and Ukraine.”

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In the letter to archivist Colleen Shogan, Comer made a request for any “document or communication in which a pseudonym for Vice President Joe Biden was included either as a sender, recipient, copied or was included in the contents of the document or communication, including but not limited to Robert Peters, Robin Ware, and JRB Ware.”

Comer also seeks any “document or communication in which Hunter Biden, Eric Schwerin, or Devon Archer was included either as a sender, recipient, copied, or was included in the contents of the document or communication” and all “drafts from November 1, 2015, to December 9, 2015, of then-Vice President Biden’s speech delivered to the Ukrainian Rada on December 9, 2015.”

“Joe Biden has stated there was ‘an absolute wall’ between his family’s foreign business schemes and his duties as vice president, but evidence reveals that access was wide open for his family’s influence peddling,” Comer said in a statement. 

“We already have evidence of then-Vice President Biden speaking, dining and having coffee with his son’s foreign business associates,” he added. “We also know that Hunter Biden and his associates were informed of then-Vice President Biden’s official government duties in countries where they had a financial interest. The National Archives must provide these unredacted records to further our investigation into the Biden family’s corruption.”

A 2021 report from the New York Post noted that Biden used the pseudonyms “Robin Ware,” “Robert L. Peters” and “JRB ware” on e-mails that “mixed official and family business.”

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Previous emails released by the agency showed that Biden used the email address “[email protected]” during his time as vice president and that his aide, John Flynn, copied Hunter Biden on 10 emails containing the elder Biden’s daily schedule between May 18 and June 15, 2016, according to the Post.

FBI records made public in September 2016 revealed Obama also used a pseudonym in email correspondence with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, according to Politico.

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