Clinton Adviser On Hillary’s Email Scandal: ‘There Is Just No Good Answer’

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Emails from former State Department officials regarding the use private e-mails and classified materials did not allay anxiety felt by a Clinton adviser about the situation former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton placed herself in with her private e-mail server.

In a March 7, 2015 email chain posted to WikiLeaks as a result of a reported hack of Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s online communications, former Clinton State Department official and current head of New America Anne-Marie Slaughter forwarded an e-mail conversation she had with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman about the circumstances to the Clinton team.

Slaughter wrote to Friedman:

“I’m not working directly with Hillary’s folks; I can’t, given my position as head of New America. So this reach-out is on my own initiative. As I read all these columns about her email, I just keep remembering two things from you and about you that seem very relevant. Your point: ‘When I sat down to write The World is Flat: Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was still a sound, the cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were what you sent to college, and Skype was a typo’ is still the best thing I know capturing how fast our world is changing.”

“You were talking about 2004, a decade ago; now we are talking about 2008, 6 years ago — all of this ‘she should have known, she must have known’ is ridiculous. In 2008 it was hard for the President to get a blackberry; State Department technology was terrible (it still is); we hadn’t had any major data breaches, private (Target etc) or public (Wikileaks; Snowden). The other thing I keep remembering is how you were still using an AOL account until very recently. Even as sophisticated a tech guru as you just sticks with what you know amid the constant pressures of a busy life. We all know there is a better system out there; we should switch, but it’s such a pain and we don’t have time …. Just some reflections. But both seem very relevant to putting all this in some perspective.”

Friedman replied:

“Thanks for your note. Always happy to hear your perspective. That all seems true to me, and yet… Even I evolved. I moved to gmail, got a Mac laptop, got rid of AOL. And I am not the Secretary of State, bound by very clear government regulations. I have to say I am troubled by what I have read about what Hillary did. I am keeping an open until I hear what she has to say, but it doesn’t sit right with me. Just to let you know where I stand. Thanks for reaching out.”

Slaughter responded:

“Tom — just to follow up, didn’t you just move away from AOL a couple of years ago? Long after you knew you probably should have? Honestly, OTR, EVERYONE I knew at State used our private email (I used Princeton) when we were out of the office (except for our blackberries, which were State issued) because it was so incredibly clunky and difficult to get onto the State system when we were not in the office (it was a complicated set of steps and the system always froze or crashed).”

“We sent sensitive but unclassified documents to our private emails so we could work on them at home and then sent them back to our work emails. Moreover, the overall lesson that everyone had taken away from the Clinton administration was not to put ANYTHING politically sensitive on email period, regardless of the system. I remember getting called on that early on — someone assumed I was putting something in email so that if it came out in the press later I would look good — a consideration that had simply never occurred to me.”

She added, “What seems most unfair about this is that she was working round the clock to master a completely new job and set of issues; the State Dept systems were a mess; she switched from campaign to home and then stuck with that for four years.”

Slaughter forwarded her discussion to Clinton’s team including: Podesta, Nick Merrill, Jake Sullivan, and Mills. Mills forwarded the information to Jennifer Palmieri and Reines.

Reines simply responded:







We need to gut through the process phase, get them all out there and let the content do the talking.”

Five days earlier, Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress said in a previous email conversation that Clinton lawyer David Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines sure weren’t forthcoming on the facts here.”

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