Clinton’s press conference at the UN was a disaster–and this whole private email fiasco just keeps getting worse. Yesterday, Christine wrote that State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, admitted that Clinton was not issued an official Blackberry phone during her tenure as Secretary of State. Katie also wrote that the former first lady might have committed a felony by not filing the proper paperwork–an official Separation Statement–upon her exit as Secretary of State in 2013.
At the presser, Clinton mentioned that her work-related emails were turned over, she didn’t send classified information over her private email account, she didn’t delete any government emails, and that she deleted some 31,000 emails she said were private. She also said she used her private email “as a matter of convenience.” Now, it seems no one actually read the emails, and her admission in being able to handle more than one device keeps coming up (via Time) [emphasis mine]:
In her press conference, Hillary Clinton described the private email account on the server inside their New York home as a matter of convenience only. “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she said. “Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.”
That explanation was not exactly robust. The Q&A had hardly ended before Clinton’s critics unearthed an interview Hillary had given a few weeks earlier with Re/code co-founder Kara Swisher. “I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a BlackBerry,” Clinton said. So much for simplicity. Others remarked on a matter of timing: Clinton did not carry out her business on an existing personal email account. She specifically set up a new private address–email@example.com–instead of using a government account. This happened on the very day the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its first hearing on her nomination as Secretary of State.
As for why this might “seem like an issue,” the answer is not complicated. All federal employees have a legal obligation to preserve their work-related email–and the White House advises appointees to accomplish this by using official government addresses. Email sent to and from .gov accounts is generally archived. In this way, a consistent level of security is maintained. The nation’s history is preserved. Open-records laws are honored. And transparency gets a leg up on “Trust me.”
All this once made sense to Clinton. As a candidate for President in 2008, she included “secret White House email accounts” as part of her critique of the Bush Administration’s “stunning record of secrecy and corruption.” Now, however, Clinton is leaning heavily on “Trust me.” For more than a year after she left office in 2013, she did not transfer work-related email from her private account to the State Department. She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department–spurred by the congressional investigation–asked her to do so. And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache–31,830 emails–did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be “private, personal records.”
Oh, and the 31,830–the majority of the emails–were deleted. So, how can we truly verify any of the statements she made at the UN presser if "Command + F" was the basis for her "review?"
Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit makes the point that this cavalier email sifting process was intentional so she could tell the media–in a semi-serious fashion–that she complied with State’s request. It’s, you know, “the Clinton Way:”
She blinded herself, no doubt intentionally, by resorting to crude keyword filters instead. E.g., if she had written an e-mail about Chris Stevens’s death and referred to him as “CS” and made no references to Benghazi by name, a keyword search for “Stevens” and “Benghazi” would have missed it. That e-mail would have been marked “personal” even though it clearly wasn’t. And deleted. There’s simply no way that her keyword searches were so thorough that every last message in a 31,000-message pile really was personal rather than work-related.
And again, this was surely intentional. She needed a way to argue that she had kinda sorta complied with the law without actually complying with. So she came up with the keyword search, which she knew would miss all sorts of unhelpful stuff. You didn’t expect her and her endless array of staffers to actually read through 60,000+ e-mails, did you? That’s the way chumps who are bound by the rules do things.
Within the Obama White House, his aides want Hillary to win, according to Politico. After all, Obama’s accomplishments are best maintained with a Democratic successor, but this email dust up has seemingly resurrected old feelings about the president’s former presidential rival. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t expect the White House to chime in anytime soon:
To sum up the feelings, all the way up to the highest levels: What. The. Hell.
With so much on the line, with so much time to prepare, she’s back to classic Clinton? She’s flubbing a campaign kick-off eight years in the making because she somehow thought that no one would ever care that she set up a secret email server? That anyone would then accept her word that it was okay that she deleted 30,000 emails even though the State Department had been asking for some of them? And then go silent again?
After all, 2008’s “Change you can believe in” campaign slogan wasn’t just a reference to George W. Bush. It was also about her, and the uneasy feeling many people had that with Clinton, something else was always going on.
Obama aides had had that feeling themselves, even after she joined the administration and their staffs tried following Obama’s and Clinton’s leads in building mutual trust, almost to the point of suspension of disbelief.
You never feel like you’re quite getting the full story, because everyone’s got some side deal or some complicating factor,” said one former Obama aide, reflecting on dealing with Clinton and her circle. “I don’t think there was a conscious effort to watch out for scams. It was more just, you know who you’re dealing with.”
The article did mention that Obama staffers know Clinton is held to a different standard in the media, but also mentioned that she had a lot more “latitude” than other Cabinet secretaries. But, they were floored when she admitted to just deleting over 30,000 emails at the UN presser, and are holding their tongues about this controversy. After all, they “don’t want to pile on:”
For now, they’re holding off on their complaints. Dismissive of the actual importance of the email flap and sensitive to how rough the past two weeks have been for Clinton, current and former aides say they want to avoid piling on.
And in the West Wing, they say they feel satisfied with this test run of how the dynamic between the White House and the Clinton campaign is going to work.
“There are going to be other issues that crop up,” the current White House aide said, “and we want to maintain the kind of relationship that will allow us to coordinate our efforts effectively.”
Regarding the political ramifications, there are some Democrats having second thoughts about Clinton's preparedness for the presidency; her performance at the UN only reinforced those feelings. Then again, is there anyone else (really) out there who could challenge Clinton, or seems more viable than her on a national ticket? I'm going to guess, no.
BONUS: Gawker's John Cook slams "Nixonian" Hillary's decision not to use two devices while she served as Secretary of State as "preposterous" and "insulting to the intelligence of the American people."
UPDATE: Allahpundit discusses how Hillary's lawyers decided which emails were work-related or not [bold text indicates ABC News ]:
According to a document distributed by her aides after this week’s press conference, like this:
First, a search was done of all emails Clinton received from a .gov or state.gov account during the period she was secretary of state — from 2007 to 2013.
Then, with the remaining emails, a search was done for names of 100 State Department and other U.S. government officials who Clinton may have had correspondence with during her tenure.
Next, the emails were organized and reviewed by sender and recipient to “account for non-obvious or non-recognizable email addresses or misspellings or other idiosyncrasies.”
Lastly, of the emails still left over, a “number of terms” were searched, including “Benghazi” and “Libya.”