Senior Obama administration officials, including the White House chief of staff, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her government correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by the State Department late Tuesday night
The chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, requested Clinton’s email address on Sept. 5, 2009, according to one email.
His request came three months after top Obama strategist David Axelrod asked the same question of one of Clinton’s top aides.
It’s unclear whether the officials realised Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York _ a potential security risk and violation of administration policy.
The emails ranged from the mundane details of high-level public service _ scheduling secure lines for calls, commenting on memos and dealing with travel logistics _ to an email exchange with former President Jimmy Carter and a phone call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The emails also reflect the vast scope of Clinton’s network, after several decades in Washington. She asks aides for restaurant recommendations for a meal with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (whom she refers to as DiFi), advises her future 2016campaign chairman John Podesta to wear socks to bed, and passes on advice from former campaign strategist Mark Penn with the note “overlook the source.”
Clinton’s emails have become an issue in her early 2016 campaign, as Republicans accuse her of using a private account rather than the standard government address to avoid public scrutiny of her correspondence. As the controversy has continued, Clinton has seen ratings of her character and trustworthiness drop in polling.
The emails, covering March through December 2009, were posted online as part of a court order that the agency release batches of Clinton’s private correspondence from her time as secretary of state every 30 days starting June 30.
The newly released emails show Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her private email server that were later classified “confidential” by the U.S. government because officials said they contained activities relating to the intelligence community.
The White House counsel’s office was not aware at the time Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed government guidance, the White House counsel’s office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person, who was not authorised to speak on the record and requested anonymity.
Separately, the State Department on Tuesday provided more than 3,600 pages of documents to the Republican-led House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, including emails of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, and former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan.
The regular releases of Clinton’s correspondence all but guarantee a slow drip of revelations from the emails throughout her primary campaign, complicating her efforts to put the issue to rest. The goal is for the department to publicly unveil 55,000 pages of her emails by Jan. 29, 2016 _ three days before Iowa caucus-goers will cast the first votes in the Democratic primary contest. Clinton has said she wants the department to release the emails as soon as possible.
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