Hillary Clinton has insisted throughout the ongoing email scandal on two points repeated as a virtual mantra: there was no classified material sent on her unsecured personal email system and she was in total compliance with the law. I have questioned both points and noted that she is really saying that no “marked” classified material was sent (a less than compelling argument) and she is speaking of federal criminal laws as opposed to the clear official policy not to use such personal servers. It appears clear that some of this material was indeed classified and, as I discussed this week on NPR, the policy against doing what she did was clear and strong at the time of her tenure at State. Now, United States District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has weighed in with comments this week that Clinton clearly did violate State Department policy and that violation caused much of the difficulty in retrieving her communications while in office.
While the attention nationally has been on the server of Hillary Clinton and the ongoing investigation, there is a new development in the effort to acquire another set of emails that should cause public outcry. Two years ago, the State Department officially stated that there were no emails responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about a close Hillary Clinton adviser’s contact with the media. Now, after the intervention of a federal judge, the Department has admitted that it has located 17,855 emails that appear to match the criteria. From 0 to 17,855 and no one seems particularly bothered by the false statement of the State Department in its early response to the lawful request under FOIA. No one is under review at the State Department for possible termination or even discipline. No one is being transferred or retrained. The government first says that there were no emails and then is forced to admit that there are potentially thousands. It is being treated as just another day in the life of our government.
This week, Hillary Clinton doubled down on the email scandal in a speech that appeared to mock the ongoing investigation of her use of an unsecured email system during her time as Secretary of State and dismissing questions over her use the system as pure politics. She even joked “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.” It is a great line but it is only funny for those who are entirely untroubled by the real danger that Clinton put national security secrets at risk by insisting on retaining control over her own emails and server. One group that is not laughing are former intelligence officials who have accused the government, again, of showing special treatment for powerful figures in the mishandling of classified material or current officials who are continuing to classify hundreds of emails from Clinton’s records. The number of Hillary Clinton emails now flagged for classification has grown to 300. The number is expected to rise even higher as the agencies plow through thousands of emails that remain after the Clinton staff erased thousands of others from the server.