Members of what would become Hillary Clinton’s campaign team discussed her use of a private email account as secretary of state in Summer 2014, months before her email practices were publicly revealed. But an email released on Thursday shows that Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, was not overly concerned about the issue at that time because he was told that “everything was taken care of.”
It is not clear what Mook meant by the cryptic statement, which he made in an exchange with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
The email, which was hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account and released by WikiLeaks, is the first to show that the Clinton team was caught almost completely off guard by The New York Times’ March 2, 2015 story about Clinton’s email usage.
“Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” Podesta asked Mook in the email.
“Nope,” wrote Mook. “We brought up the existence of emails in reserach [sic] this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
At the time of the exchange, Clinton had not officially announced her candidacy. But Mook and Podesta had been working with a small team for months to lay the groundwork for her presidential bid.
The Times story showed that Clinton exclusively used a private email account while serving as secretary of state. That violated State Department and Obama administration policies regarding email use. Clinton also flouted the Federal Records Act, which requires government officials to return their work product to their governing agency.
Clinton did not give the State Department her work-related emails until Dec. 5, 2014, nearly two years after she left office.
The State Department and Clinton’s legal team began negotiating the hand-over of Clinton’s emails in Summer 2014. The talks began after State Department lawyers found emails with Clinton’s private email address on them while they were producing documents for the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s State Department chief of staff and her personal attorney, led the discussions with the State Department about the email hand-over. She was also in frequent contact with Podesta and Mook in 2014.