WaPo: Three Pinnochios For Hillary's Email Claim

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 4:00 PM
WaPo: Three Pinnochios For Hillary's Email Claim

On October 22, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, she was asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the claim that the State Department had 90-95 percent of her work-related emails. Clinton said State told her that. Well, that doesn’t appear (shocker) to be entirely truthful, according to the Washington Post. They fact-checked the claim and gave Mrs. Clinton three Pinnochios for that statement:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C): “I have not heard anyone other than you ever cite that figure. Who told you that 90 to 95 percent of your e-mails were in the State Department system? Who told you that?”

Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton: “We learned that from the State Department and their analysis of the e-mails that were already on the system. We were trying to help them close some gaps that they had.”

— exchange during a hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Oct. 22, 2015

Glenn Kessler combed through the remarks and found that a) the 90-95 percent claim did not come from the State Department, but the Clinton campaign and b) the State Department wasn’t very good at preserving those emails.

First of all, the State Department is correct. The “90 to 95 percent” figure comes from the Clinton campaign. There has never been a calculation made by the State Department of the 55,000 pages of the e-mails provided by Clinton from her private e-mail account. So Clinton got that wrong.

“Of the more than 30,000 e-mails that Secretary Clinton provided to the State Department last year, more than 90 percent were sent to or from a state.gov e-mail address,” a Clinton campaign spokesman said. “That is observable by looking at the e-mails that were provided for release by the department. These messages would have been captured in the State Department’s record system. It has since been learned that the State Department’s archiving system did not maintain every e-mail, but that does not change that these messages were captured by State’s system and thus should have been available.”

Let’s unpack that statement. Essentially, Clinton’s lawyers looked through the e-mails and found that at least one person in the e-mail chain — either sending an e-mail to Clinton or receiving it — had a state.gov e-mail address. So in theory, if a search was requested of the e-mails of person who corresponded with Clinton, Clinton’s e-mails would have shown up.

[…]

But it’s also not unreasonable for Clinton to assert that most of these e-mails resided somewhere in the State Department’s systems. Gowdy referenced an 2015 inspector general’s report concerning poor e-mail retention at the State Department, but that report concerned the e-mails of lower-level officials, under a system known as SMART (State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset)…

[…]

Clinton clearly erred in saying that the “90 to 95 percent” figure was from the State Department. This is her own staff’s calculation, and she should correct the record.

While not all of the e-mails she submitted to the State Department have been released, what has been made available so far suggests that a substantial majority are to and from at least one “state.gov” e-mail address. It is not an unreasonable assumption that these e-mails are contained somewhere within the bowels of the State Department. But Clinton cannot make a definitive statement and certainly cannot attribute that to the State Department.

While this isn’t the most earth-shattering revelation, it still points to the fact that the Clinton campaign and her majesty herself refuse to take the concerns about her private email system seriously. Moreover, they still can’t get their story straight about the emails, so much to their chagrin this story will continue. The first "uh oh" snag this campaign hit regarding the email story was the reported incident that Clinton's legal team didn't even read the emails she turned over. As Allahpundit and others noted, it seems to have been a way to say that she turned over something to avoid more media attention. By this point, the whole situation embodied every criticism of the power couple. This was going to be a story for a few cycles, though I'm sure many didn't expect it to carry throughout the summer months.

This was one of many botched attempts when it came to dealing with the fallout from the server. Clinton initially refused to turn it over to a third party for an independent analysis until this August when she handed it over to the Justice Department, where they found an attempt to wipe it clean, plus over 300 emails flagged for having sensitive information. Clinton initially said no classified information was sent through her server (a lie)–and that the flagged email count has swelled to over 600. Possibly the worst aspect of her latest foul-up, the non-apology, apology–was the fact that it only happened after a New Hampshire focus group gave the campaign some direction. 

Oh, and State shares some blame in this. They didn’t record emails properly, nor were they preserving emails from Secretary Kerry or other senior officials until this fiasco was revealed earlier this year. It’s a story that hasn’t gone away, and has decimated Clinton’s numbers with voters in Middle America. Democrats may love her and may be standing by her Benghazi statements, but Independents view her with more skepticism and suspicion. A new WSJ/NBC News Poll did report that Clinton’s answers during the Benghazi hearing was winning over swing voters. Yet, that seems to be a fluke.

Lastly, as Guy noted, the new emails show conflict with Clinton's testimony, so around we go again.