State Dept. Admits That Hillary Clinton Failed To Turn Over Secretive Email

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Hillary Clinton did not turn over some emails to the State Department, including a suspicious one in which the then-secretary of state is shown discussing her decision not to use a government email account, agency officials said Wednesday.

The news was first disclosed during a background briefing with reporters held Wednesday morning after the untimely release of a State Department office of the inspector general (OIG) report detailing Clinton’s negligence in operating a private email system as secretary of state.

“There are instances, and they’re identified in the OIG report, where people are aware of emails that involved her that she did not turn over,” a State Department official said during Wednesday’s briefing.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner indicated the same during a public daily press briefing held after the background discussion. He also said that the department does not have an estimate on how many other emails Clinton failed to turn over.

“I don’t think we have an estimate. And I don’t think it’s a large number. I just think that there are stray examples such as this,” Toner said.

During the first briefing, a reporter asked about a Nov. 2010 email in which Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, broached the idea of providing her a State Department email account and making widely known within the agency.

Clinton declined the suggestion, writing: “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want the risk of personal being accessible.”

As the reporter noted during the press briefing, Abedin’s email to Clinton, as well as her response, is not included in the Clinton emails that the State Department started releasing last year.

The State Department released more than 52,000 pages of emails that Clinton reluctantly handed over in Dec. 2014.

“I’m curious where you got that email and why it isn’t public. Or is it, and I’m just missing it?” the reporter asked.

“With respect to…the email that you were referencing, I don’t think I know exactly where we obtained the email,” one of two State Department officials involved in the background briefing said.

The agency did not release the names of the two officials, a decision which drew stern condemnation from reporters at Wednesday’s public daily press briefing.

“I think you are correct that it is not in the emails that we put online,” the official continued during the background briefing. “We do have it; it is in our custody. But as to why we wouldn’t have it from Secretary Clinton in what she turned over, I would have to refer you to her and her team on that.”

The reporter pressed, asking whether Clinton did not turn over all of her emails or whether there are emails that the public has not seen.

“Can you answer why we would be seeing emails now in an IG report that we did not see in the FOIA releases?” the reporters asked.

The official responded that “there are instances, and they’re identified in the OIG report, where people are aware of emails that involved her that she did not turn over.”

The official also said that the revelation is “not inconsistent” with what the agency has said in the past.

“The fact that she has said she’s turned over what she had and through other preservation and reviews we’ve identified additional emails, and we only put online through the FOIA process what Secretary Clinton turned over, to the extent that the OIG found an additional email, that’s not inconsistent with what we’d expect,” the official said.

The email raises the obvious question of whether Clinton deleted it at some point. Or it could be that when her emails were being reviewed by her staff in 2014 that the record was determined not to have been work-related.

A longtime Clinton staffer, Heather Samuelson, led the effort to identify Clinton’s work emails. While more than 30,000 emails were turned over in all, an equal number were deleted because they were deemed by Clinton’s team to have been personal in nature.

Other emails that Clinton failed to give the State Department that were work-related in nature have been documented. But those were sent and received in the early days of Clinton’s tenure, and she has said that it was while she was transitioning from an old email system to her new one.

Follow Chuck on Twitter