Email Upchuck: State Department Releases First Batch Of Clinton's Correspondences

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 01, 2015 3:10 PM
Email Upchuck: State Department Releases First Batch Of Clinton's Correspondences

After a judge ruled that the Clinton emails must be released on a rolling basis, the State Department dumped the first 3,000 of such correspondences last night. They contained more information about Sidney Blumenthal, the fear that she might not last long in the new administration, and how she was reportedly engaged in foreign affairs, specifically the debate about the Afghan surge. Oh, and her private email address was a “hot commodity," with some containing correspondences with journalists.

On Blumenthal, the emails show that the longtime Clinton aide was sought for advice:

Clinton has described Blumenthal’s advice as unsolicited. However, it’s clear from the emails that — at least in her first year in office — the two were in regular contact and Clinton sometimes sought Blumenthal’s counsel.

“Are you still awake?” she wrote in an email to Blumenthal sent on Oct. 8, 2009, at 10:35 p.m. that does not provide details on the issue prompting the message. “I will call if you are.”

Clinton even attempted to get Blumenthal a State Department post in 2009, but aides to President Barack Obama blocked the appointment because of what they viewed as Blumenthal’s role in spreading rumors about Obama during the 2008 presidential primary fight with Clinton.

He would later go on to be a consultant for the Clinton Foundation at a rate of $10,000 a month.

Besides Blumenthal, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Rahm Emanuel, Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton, and David Axelrod had Clinton’s private email address (via National Journal):

A new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails released by the State Department make one thing clear—lots of people wanted Hillary Clinton's email.

More specifically, they wanted her email address—a non-governmental address that, as is widely-known now, was hosted on a private server she controlled. Following a court order, the State Department on Tuesday released more than 3,000 pages of emails that Clinton had turned over from her server, with several more batches of messages due before January 2016.

The newest tranche of messages, all of them from 2009, show that many top officials and powerful figures inside and outside the administration had Clinton's address, but some didn't.

In one exchange from June 8 of 2009, Clinton's chief of staff Cheryl Mills emails with a note saying "axelrod wants your email -- remind me to discuss with you if i forget," referring to then-senior White House adviser David Axelrod. Clinton replies, "can you send it to him or do you want me to?" They resolve that Mills will take care of it.

Then a Sept. 5 thread notes that Clinton and Obama's then chief of staff Rahm Emanuel were slated to speak and that she had asked him to email her. Mills emailed Clinton asking, "do you want him to have your email?" Clinton replied: "Yes."

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had it, as was made clear in his June 19, 2009 email asking, after her mid-June 2009 elbow fracture: "Hillary, Is it true [Richard] Holbrooke tripped you? Just kidding, get better fast, we need you running around."

At the same time, Axelrod said he knew nothing about the email server.

Here are the journalists (via Washington Examiner):

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith and former New York Times correspondent Les Gelb both make a brief appearance in the newly released trove of messages, as the two reporters apparently discussed Clinton-related story ideas with various members of her team. The emails, which cover only the former secretary of state's first year at Foggy Bottom, raise questions about how much input Clinton's people had in the press' coverage of her early days as America's top diplomat.

In one of the correspondences released Tuesday evening, Smith, who was reporting for Politico at the time, discusses possible story ideas with Tommy Vietor, the former spokesman for President Obama's National Security Council.

On June 22, 2009, Smith wrote Vietor, saying, "[Thanks]. I've been successfully, mostly, talked out of that thesis."

Vietor responded with a simple, "Victory!"

Smith told the Washington Examiner that there's more to the story than the single State Department email suggests.

"I think I'd tried to get them to talk to me by floating the thesis that she was totally irrelevant," Smith told the Examiner. "Reporters' tactics are not always great."

There’s also the bit where the former first lady seems to have been aware of how the media views her, and how she was engaged in her role as Secretary of State, or so says Foreign Policy:

They reveal she was highly concerned with the day-to-day workings of Washington’s Fourth Estate and was well informed of her portrayal in the national media. Additionally, the messages lay bare Clinton’s almost painful awareness of losing her party’s presidential nomination in 2008 to Barack Obama.

But the emails released Tuesday show how Clinton wielded her influence in Obama’s administration.

The messages document Clinton’s initial unease with obscure aspects of international diplomacy. In an April 2009 exchange, Clinton asked advisor Jake Sullivan what is the difference between the P5+1 and E3+3 — two different names for the same world powers’ diplomatic grouping assembled to carry out negotiations with Iran. “What is the E3+3 vs the P5+1?” Clinton wrote. After a back-and-forth with Sullivan, who schooled his boss, Clinton replied, sardonically, “I already feel safer.” Sullivan replied: “And I feel ashamed that I had to subject you to this” — a commentary on U.S. irritation with European countries’ insistence that the term E3+3 be used in official government statements.

As the White House grappled with whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, longtime Clinton political advisor Mark Penn complained to her in a Sept. 24, 2009, email about “the lack of clear Afghanistan policy [that] is unwinding the coalition and threatens to cause a massive deer in headlights problem for administration if not resolved soon.” In heated White House debates, Clinton had lobbied Obama to plus up U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan vexed Clinton in a variety of ways, but never as angrily as in September 2009, when, the emails show, she became aware of naked pool parties and sexually deviant acts performed under pressure among the security staff guarding the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“This whole issue makes me sick,” Clinton wrote in a Sept. 2, 2009, email to her close friend and chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. “State is too passive and accepting.… I have some ideas about this to explore.”

Clinton also was called on repeatedly to soothe ruffled allies, from Haiti to Argentina, and agreed to send a condolence letter in December 2009 to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose brother had just died. Fewer than two years later, Assad would face a revolt from his country’s Sunni opposition and respond so harshly that Clinton ultimately advocated sending U.S. military assets to curb his assaults.

Still, her perceived engagement doesn’t negate the fact that “smart power” diplomacy has been a disaster.  Guy will elaborate more on this document dump.