Hillary Clinton put a single longtime aide in charge of determining which of her emails were personal and which were work-related, raising questions over how involved the former secretary of state was in the process and over whether the staffer had a security clearance to handle classified information.
Heather Samuelson, 34, was tapped to sift through Clinton’s emails, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s State Department chief of staff, told the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday, a GOP source told Politico.
According to Politico:
Heather Samuelson, a lawyer and 2008 Clinton campaign staffer, worked under Mills and Clinton’s attorney David Kendall to sift through her ex-boss’ messages. She helped separate those that were purely personal, which were not turned over to the State Department, from those that were work-related.
Sources close to Clinton told Politico that Mills and Kendall, and not Samuelson, made the ultimate decision on which emails to preserve. In all, Clinton gave the State Department approximately 30,000 emails she said were work-related. She deleted another 30,000 or so which she claimed were personal in nature.
It is not clear whether Samuelson unilaterally determined what was work-related and what was personal. Clinton has said that when her team conducted a search for certain keywords of her emails to determine which were work-related. Politico noted that Republicans worry that Samuelson has no background in federal records management.
While Clinton has claimed that she turned over all of her work-related emails, her longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal gave the Benghazi Committee 15 emails he exchanged with Clinton which the Democratic presidential candidate did not turn over in December.
Samuelson’s handling of Clinton’s emails raises security concerns as well. At least two of Clinton’s emails have been found to have had information that was “top secret” at the time it was sent. While Clinton has also maintained she did not send or receive classified information, the discovery of the highly-classified emails prompted the FBI to seize the private email server Clinton used to host her email account.
Samuelson has long worked for Clinton. Her LinkedIn profile shows that she worked as an assistant treasurer for a Clinton political action committee between 2002 and 2006. She worked as the deputy director of compliance for Friends of Hillary during the same period. After that, she worked on compliance and as the director of vetting for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
At the State Department, Samuelson served as a special adviser and White House liason. After Clinton left office, Samuelson worked at the White House until April 2014. It is unclear what her official job has been since then, though she apparently worked for Clinton in some capacity.