In the days immediately after Hillary Clinton’s email scandal erupted, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta suggested that the team “hold” the former secretary of state’s emails with President Obama.
“Think we should hold emails to and from potus?” Podesta asked Clinton’s lawyer, Cheryl Mills, in an email sent on March, 4, 2015, two days after Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email system was exposed by The New York Times.
“That’s the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I seems like they will,” Podesta continued.
The email was included in a Wikileaks release of emails hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account.
It’s not entirely clear what Podesta meant when he suggested to “hold” the emails. It could be that he wanted the State Department — which had Clinton’s emails — to hold on to them even in response to a subpoena filed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi that same day.
Obama’s emailing with Clinton was revealed on March 9, 2015.
“Yes, he was aware of her email address. He traded emails with her,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “But he was not aware of her personal email server or that she was using it exclusively for all her business.”
The administration was slow to release details about Clinton’s and Obama’s correspondence. The State Department announced back in January that it would be withholding 18 emails between Clinton and Obama.
The emails have yet to be released. But Vice News’ Jason Leopold obtained what’s known as a Vaughn Index of the emails. The index shows the subject lines and dates of the emails. They were sent between May 18, 2012 and January 31, 2013. The administration has cited executive privilege in order to keep the emails private. The Vaughn Index describes some of the emails as “note(s) of appreciation” and others as “personal pleasantry.”
It was also revealed last month that Obama used a pseudonym to email.