(WASHINGTON) — Almost a year after the process began, the State Department has finally published all it can of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private emails. It released roughly 3,800 additional pages Monday.
Under a federal court order related to a public records lawsuit, the State Department has for the past 10 months steadily reviewed and released most of the 52,455 emails Clinton turned over to the department early last year. Those documents were requested of Clinton and other former secretaries in accordance with government archiving regulations.
That request, along with a congressional investigation into the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, led to a game-changing revelation last March: Clinton, unlike past cabinet secretaries, had established a private email server for her and two senior aides run out of the basement of her home in Chappaqua, New York. She has used that private email domain throughout her tenure as secretary of state.
That news has dogged her campaign for the past year as voters and political rivals have raised questions about her honesty. Clinton eventually apologized for her decision to build a home-brewed server in an interview with ABC News, but has always maintained that she wants all of her email to be made public so people could see for themselves that she has nothing to hide.
At the time Clinton handed paper copies of the email to the department, she acknowledged that she permanently deleted 30,000 pages of email that she and her lawyers deemed to be personal and not work related — a decision which also brought scorn from her critics.
Clinton’s desire to make all her email public has also been hampered by the fact that well over a thousand of her emails had to be redacted for containing classified information. And 22 of the emails were withheld from publication altogether and upgraded to “top secret,” a classification reserved for government’s most sensitive information.
At the time, Clinton’s campaign called for those emails to be released and accused the intelligence community and Republican lawmakers of conspiring against her in an effort to derail her candidacy for president. Clinton has always said none of her emails contained information that was “marked” classified.
The State Department said that although there were no additional “top secret” upgrades in Monday’s release, two emails had to be withheld. One was an exchange with President Obama, which is sealed until a later date under rules governing presidential records, and the other was an unclassified message that was withheld at the request of a law enforcement agency. The State Department would not comment further on the content of that message.
Meanwhile, the State Department has said in recent weeks that it is conducting an investigation to see if any of those emails should have been marked as classified and if anyone should be held accountable for mishandling sensitive information.
The FBI is also conducting an investigation into how sensitive information was handled. It’s unclear if the Justice Department will bring charges, but nonetheless it is a possible threat that looms over her campaign.
Headlines from the published email have varied greatly, but for the most part we learned that she didn’t write much. In a great majority of emails, Clinton was on the receiving end and for the most part she kept her responses short.
Her critics seized on one email from Clinton to her daughter Chelsea Clinton, who emailed under the alias “Diane Reynolds.” Writing to Chelsea on the night of the Benghazi terror attack, Clinton said al Qaeda-linked militants were responsible for the attack, rather than protesters who were stirred up by an anti-Islam video. Republicans accused her of a cover-up — privately blaming a terror group in a message to her daughter while publicly claiming attackers were inspired by the film. Clinton has said that the intelligence changed.
In another email, Clinton recounts the “weirdest exchange ever” between a woman who shouted to her husband Bill Clinton during a public event that “her father ‘circumcised Bin Laden.'”
In July of 2011, Clinton joked with a State Department employee that maybe her email was hacked by the Chinese. In reality, Clinton’s campaign has said her email has never been breached, despite claims from her political rivals that her methods were not secure.
In a moment of irony, one email shows Clinton questioning why a State Department staffer would use his private email to conduct official business. “I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State,” she wrote to another aide.
The final email release comes the night before Super Tuesday, when she’ll compete for delegates in a dozen states.
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