State releases 7000 Hillary Clinton emails – Politico
The State Department released more than 7,000 pages of Hillary Clinton’s emails online Monday night, deeming 125 more of Clinton’s email messages to be classified, a move certain to fuel the roiling controversy over her use of a private email server instead of an official government account when she served as secretary of state.
Much like the other document dumps in recent months, the emails reveal the day-to-day of Clinton’s time at Foggy Bottom as well as the people with whom she consulted on matters of policy. They also showed confusion that was created by her unusual email set-up.
In late February 2010, a help desk analyst with the State Department emailed an account with a simple question, seemingly unaware that the owner of the private account was none other than the secretary herself.
“I work as a Help Desk Analyst and it has come to my attention that one of our customers has been receiving permanent fatal errors from this address, can you please confirm if you receive this message,” wrote Christopher Butzgy in a message that Clinton forwarded to top aide Huma Abedin inquiring about its contents.
“What happened is judith sent.you an email. It bounced back. She called the email help desk at state (I guess assuming u had state email) and told them that. They had no idea it was YOU, just some random address so they emailed. Sorry about that. But regardless, means ur email must be back! R u getting other messages?” Abedin emailed Clinton.
In another email from late January 2010, Clinton implored the recipients (adviser Cheryl Mills and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah) not to forward her last email. It is unclear exactly what Clinton is referring to in this letter, as part of it is redacted.
Close Clinton confidante Sid Blumenthal features prominently in the latest release as well, sending along bits of information on Israel, the 2010 elections in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and a memo on the existence of the “vast right wing conspiracy,” as well as another assessing the burgeoning tea party movement.
The emails feature some lighter moments as well.
In a June 2010 email, top adviser Philippe Reines informed Clinton that her iPad, or “hPad” had arrived. “That is exciting news–do you think you can teach me to use it on the flight to Kyev next week?” Clinton responded.
In a March 2010 email to top State advisers, Clinton’s subject line merely reads, “Gefilte fish,” writing only, “Where are we on this?” in the body.
The release also underscores how the headache-inducing controversy is continuing to grow for Clinton. The new classifications roughly triple the number of messages on Clinton’s account now considered classified, bringing the total to 188 from 63.
However, State Department spokesman Mark Toner stressed that the information was not marked classified at the time it was sent several years ago. He also said the decisions to classify the information did not represent a determination that it should have been marked or handled that way back then.
“That certainly does not speak to whether it was classified at the time it was sent, or forwarded, or received,” Toner said during the daily State Department briefing Monday. “We stand by our contention that the information we’ve upgraded was not marked classified at the time it was sent.”
At the briefing, Toner had said he expected the number of classified messages in the lastest set to be “somewhere around 150.” Asked about the final tally for this batch being about 25 fewer, State officials said Toner’s number was simply a rough estimate. They also said some of the information classified in Monday’s release was identical to information withheld in earlier batches.
The Republican National Committee called the latest release another reason to doubt Clinton can be trusted with the presidency.
“These new emails show Hillary Clinton exposed even more classified information on her secret server than previously known,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “On hundreds of occasions, Hillary Clinton’s reckless attempt to skirt transparency laws put sensitive information and our national security at risk. With the FBI continuing to investigate, Hillary Clinton’s growing email scandal shows she cannot be trusted with the White House.”
The classification issues have created a political and public relations controversy for Clinton — the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination — and have fueled questions about the wisdom of her opting to handle all her email traffic during her four years as America’s top diplomat on a private email account and server housed at the home she shares with former President Bill Clinton in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Nearly all the information officially classified by the State Department in prior email releases involved diplomatic strategy or information provided by foreign governments and that appeared to be the case in the newly-disclosed messages as well. All the new classifications were at the “CONFIDENTIAL” level, the lowest tier in the U.S. classification system. So far only one message has been officially classified at a higher level, “SECRET,” although intelligence agency officials say some of the messages from Clinton’s account contain even more highly classified information.
Toner batted away questions Monday about whether State Department policy dictated that Clinton and other agency employees treat as classified information obtained in confidence from foreign officials or diplomats.
“Classification — we’ve said this many times — is not an exact science. It’s not, often, a black-and-white process,” Toner said. “There’s many strong opinions. … It’s not up to me to litigate these kinds of questions from the State Department podium.”
When releasing the messages, the State Department deletes any content deemed classified, notes the reason for the deletion, the classification level and who made the decision to classify. The agency then releases the remainder of the message unless it is subject to another Freedom of Information Act exemption.
The news of the additional classified designations came as the State Department prepared to post 7,121 additional pages of Clinton’s emails online. The records went live on the agency’s website at about 9 p.m. Monday, revealing more details from Clinton’s time as secretary of state from 2009 to 2010.
Toner did not elaborate on the nighttime posting but stressed that the volume of messages being made public Monday exceeded the approximately 6,000 pages released thus far and would bring State back into line with targets set by a federal judge handling a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the records.
“We’re producing more documents this month than we have in the previous three releases in May, June and July combined,” he told reporters. “Meeting this goal is really a testament to our commitment to releasing these emails to the public as expeditiously as possible.”
The last nighttime release of Clinton’s emails, in June, prompted questions of whether the State Department was trying to minimize the impact of bad news. State spokesman John Kirby on Monday denied that, saying that the timing was the product of the volume of emails to be processed and posted, and a monthly deadline set by a federal judge. However, Kirby apologized for the inconvenience the nighttime posting caused for journalists and said his agency would seek to avoid such off-hours activity in the future.
The Intelligence Community inspector general has said at least two emails on Clinton’s account contained “top secret” information subject to special protection because it was derived from electronic or aerial surveillance. The State Department has disputed that conclusion. The FBI is also conducting an investigation of how the arguably classified material made it onto Clinton’s server.
Clinton, who insisted at the outset of the controversy in March that there was no classified information in her email, now says nothing was marked as classified at the time. She has also described the classification issues as the result of disputes between the State Department and other intelligence agencies. The Democratic presidential candidate’s aides have also stressed that since classified information is not supposed to be sent to ordinary government email accounts or personal accounts, her use of a personal one isn’t particularly relevant.
“If I had had a separate government account … we would be going through the same process,” Clinton told reporters earlier this month at a news conference in Las Vegas. “It has nothing to do with me and it has nothing to do with the fact that my account was personal.”
While Clinton has repeatedly described the email controversy as one dwelled upon by journalists and her political opponents, she changed her tone somewhat last week, allowing that some members of the public do have legitimate questions about the issue. “I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why,” she said at a campaign stop in Iowa. “My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn’t the best choice. … I take responsibility for that decision.”
The emails come from a set of about 54,000 pages of messages Clinton turned over to her former agency in December after a request from a top official there.
In May, the State Department released 847 pages from the emails relating to Benghazi and Libya more broadly that had been provided to the House Select Committee on Benghazi earlier in the year.
State initially proposed holding back the rest of Clinton’s emails until next January and releasing them in one large batch in response to pending Freedom of Information Act requests. However, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras rejected that approach and ordered monthly releases from June through early next year.
In June, State released 3,095 pages, many of which highlighted the influence of outside Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. but the pace of disclosures slowed with a July release of just 2,206 pages. State officials said the slowdown, which caused the agency to fall short of a goal set by Contreras, was the result of new procedures to make sure intelligence agencies were fully consulted about the content of emails planned for release.
Officials had said in court filings that they planned to make up some of the deficit this month and to be back on track by next month. However, the new release of more than 7,000 pages would put the agency back in line with the judge’s order now.
The monthly releases have generally been in chronological order. If that pattern holds up Monday, the new set should be largely from late 2009 and early 2010. However, some earlier records caught up in the classification review process are also expected to be in the new batch.
Clinton and her aides have suggested that as more of her emails are released, people will get a better sense of how she’s doing her job and the controversy will diminish. That may turn out to be true as the monthly releases continue into next year. However, for now, each round of disclosures provides new fodder for Republicans and other critics questioning the wisdom, propriety and even the legality of the arrangement.