White House Locates Additional Clinton Emails

Secretary of State email

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White House Locates Additional Clinton Emails
| published September 26, 2015 |

By Keith H. Roberts, Thursday Review staff

Hillary Clinton’s email problems don’t show any sign of going away soon. This week the White House says it has located a thread of emails pertinent to her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State. These emails were not included among those which Clinton originally cleared for the State Department to release when she said she was making available all her work-related emails earlier this year.

The revelation by the White House contradicts Clinton’s ongoing claim that she has released—or authorized the release of—all work emails sent or received during her time as top U.S. diplomat.

Of the correspondence provided by the Obama administration, the majority of the emails were sent or received in the days prior to her being installed as the new Secretary of State in early 2009, but some of the exchanges take place after she took the helm at the State Department.

Several key email threads of conversation are between Clinton and General David Patraeus, and include policy, personnel and protocol questions, but appear not to venture into areas deemed classified or secret. Patraeus, at the time the emails were sent, was chief of the U.S. Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, and charged with overseeing all military activities in the Middle East and Middle Asia, including battlefield operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President, has struggled to resolve the issue of her emails during her tenure at State from 2009 to 2013. Despite federal regulations that mandate all government employees use a government-issued email address, Clinton instead used a privately-crafted email address for her email correspondence during that time. She also used a homebuilt server, which was housed for part of that time in the Clinton’s private home in Chappaqua, New York, and for part of that time at a small IT firm in Denver.

Though her campaign team has been insistent that she broke no laws through the use of the private email and the homebrew server, her circumvention of those federal guidelines and standards have become a matter of concern to Republicans in Congress, some of whom are investigating the thread of conversation which took place in the weeks and days prior to a deadly militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The controversy has also sparked a massive effort by reporters and media to delve into the correspondence of Clinton during that same time frame.

Clinton has said that her use of the private email account was strictly a matter of convenience, though she more recently admitted to reporters that it was a mistake. But Clinton’s opponents say that the use of that off-the-grid platform was a deliberate effort to avoid transparency. The controversy has presented an ongoing distraction from her political campaign, and has lured hundreds of reporters and journalists to investigate the issue of the emails and their content. Merely inconvenient for Clinton at first, the fracas has spawned deeper problems for the Democratic front-runner, including multiple investigations by law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

An FBI probe is seeking to determine if classified information or top secret correspondence was compromised during the time when Clinton used the private email account. The FBI is also seeking to determine if outside hackers or computer experts gained access to the server, which was not maintained in a secure location while it was kept in use as a platform for Clinton’s email activities.

According to most accounts, Clinton sent and received some 60-to-65 thousand emails during her time as the nation’s top diplomat. By her own admission, she deleted roughly 30,000 emails which she regarded as personal. The remaining emails—between 29,000 and 32,000, depending on what source is used—remain intact, and are being vetted and released in batches by the State Department. Because of the labor-intensive time frame involved, the process of releasing Clinton’s may not be complete until January of 2016. State Department officials accelerated the release of the emails after a federal judge ordered State to comply more quickly to multiple Freedom of Information Act lawsuits now pending.

Clinton has said as recently as this week that she and her staff have produced all remaining emails, but the White House assertion that more emails have been located seems to contradict Clinton’s statements to reporters.

The FBI has been careful to characterize its investigation as non-criminal, but officials at the Justice Department say that if Clinton emails are found to have contained classified information, that alone may result in criminal charges being brought against someone. The FBI has been in possession of the now famous server for some weeks, and forensic experts say they have begun to reconstruct many of the emails. The FBI is also looking into whether the server was compromised and hacked.

The server was widely thought to have been “wiped” clean last year, but the small company which was responsible for handling the server for part of the time it was being used by Clinton—Platte River Networks in Denver—says it is not aware that anyone actually cleaned off the contents of the server. The firm says it has checked its own records and has found no request to “wipe” the server. For part of the time the server was in use by the Clintons, it was maintained by a State Department employee named Bryan Pagliano, a close Clinton aide. Clinton acknowledges paying Pagliano $5,000 on the side to maintain and monitor the server. After Pagliano was subpoenaed by Congress, his attorney sent word back that Mr. Pagliano intended to exercise his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination—meaning he would not appear before Congress to answer any questions about the server or the email account.

Related Thursday Review articles:

FBI Recovering Clinton Emails; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; September 23, 2015.

Clinton Paid State Department Staffer to Maintain Server; Thursday Review; September 6, 2015.