On Monday night, the Associated Press published a piece noting the release of an additional 165 pages of emails Hillary Clinton sent from her private email address while serving as secretary of state. These were emails that had never been previously released and only were made public because of a court order in response to a request from a conservative group.
And yet again, the emails poke holes in Clinton’s initial explanation for why she decided to exclusively use a private email server for her electronic correspondence while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
Let’s start with this from the AP story: “The emails were not among the 55,000 pages of work-related messages that Clinton turned over to the agency in response to public records lawsuits seeking copies of her official correspondence.”
Remember that Clinton and a small group of people working for her reviewed all of the emails she sent from her private server and made the decision about what was solely personal and what was work-related. She handed over the work-related email and permanently deleted those that she and her team decided were purely personal. She wound up deleting more emails than she turned over to State.
The latest batch of emails suggest that Clinton’s filter to decide between the personal and the professional was far from foolproof. That these emails never saw the light of day before Monday – or before a conservative legal advocacy group petitioned for their release – opens up the possibility that there are plenty more like them that Clinton chose to delete but shouldn’t have. And it provides more fodder for the Republican argument that Clinton appointing herself as judge, jury and executioner for her emails was, at best, a very, very bad decision and, at worst, something more nefarious than just bad judgment.
Then there’s this quote from a newly released March 2009 email between Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin about the email setup: “I have just realized I have no idea how my papers are treated at State. Who manages both my personal and official files? . . . I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want.”
Remember that Clinton said that her main/only reason for using a private email server while at State was “convenience.” She didn’t want to carry around multiple devices for email, she explained.
But this email to Abedin – which came at the start of her four-year term in office – suggests a bit more active agency than Clinton has previously let on. “I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want,” doesn’t strike me as Clinton simply wanting convenience and following the instructions of her IT people on how to make that happen. It reads to me as though Clinton is both far more aware of the email setup and far more engaged in how it should look than she generally lets on publicly.
There’s nothing in these emails that changes the basic political dynamic of the email controversy as Clinton seeks to win the White House this fall. Everything still depends on whether the Justice Department decides to indict Clinton or those close to her for purposely keeping information that the public had a right to know away from them. We’ve been waiting on the results of that FBI investigation for months now and, in truth, no one really knows when they will finally come.
But revelations like Monday’s – a chunk of previously undisclosed emails that are clearly professional in nature – lend further doubt to the story Clinton had told about why she set up a private server and how she handled it after leaving office. For a candidate already struggling to convince voters she is honest and trustworthy enough to be president, stories like this one are deeply problematic.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Chris Cillizza