State Dept. Tipped Clinton Campaign Off About NYT Reporter Working Email Story

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

The State Department tipped the Hillary Clinton campaign off last year that a New York Times reporter was asking questions about Clinton’s emails.

The revelation undermines the State Department’s claims that it has not worked to help Clinton during the ongoing email scandal.

“State just called to tell me that Mike Schmidt seems to have what appear to be summaries of some of the exchanges in the 300 emails the committee has,” Nick Merrill wrote in a March 14, 2015 email.

Schmidt is the Times reporter who broke the news that Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state. The article was published on March 2, 2015. Clinton had turned more than 50,000 emails over to the State Department in Dec. 2014. The State Department then provided around 300 emails to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which was chaired by South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.

The emails show that Clinton’s team suspected Gowdy of leaking contents of Clinton’s emails to Schmidt.

“Again, it appears that he does not have the email but that someone, likely from the committee, is slipping him cherry-picked characterizations of the exchanges,” Merrill wrote. “I haven’t heard directly from Schmidt yet but will circle back when I do.”

Other Clinton campaign officials were not pleased with the news.

“This is no bueno,” communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote. “This is some kind of bullshit.”

“If Gowdy is doing selective leaks, we are in very different kind of warfare.”

The email is one of tens of thousands hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Another email sent days before Schmidt published his first bombshell report on the Clinton emails shows that Democrats on the Benghazi Committee also tipped off the Democrat’s team that the reporter was snooping around.

“Talked to [Clinton attorney Heather Samuelson] late afternoon aand [sic] told her I’d heard from Dem Staff Director on Benghazi Select Comm that NYT was sniffing around, maybe to do a story on State production to Committee or on our production to State,” Clinton lawyer David Kendall wrote on Feb. 28, 2015.

“I’d gotten a call from NYT’s Mike Schmidt (very young) about 2:00 pm–said nothing on background or on record. I didn’t feel he had anything, but. We may get a further inquiry from him over weekend.”

The email suggests that Kendall and the rest of the Clinton team did not anticipate just how big Schmidt’s story would become over the next 20 months.

Kendall wrote that Schmidt tried to persuade him to provide copies of Clinton’s emails that had already been produced to the Benghazi Committee.

“He knew that some of the HRC dox had been produced — wasn’t sure if they all had been. He knew that State had asked other former SOS’s for their emails but didn’t know what the response was. I couldn’t tell what his likely angle was (and even if he had one),” Kendall wrote.

The newly released emails are not the first examples of the State Department helping Clinton during the early days of the email scandal.

Earlier this month, emails obtained by the Republican National Committee through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit showed that in March 2015, Palmieri, who was at the time working as communications director at the White House, discussed with then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki ways to prevent Sec. of State John Kerry from being asked about the emails during a March 15, 2015 interview with CBS News. (RELATED: State Dept. And White House Coordinated Ways To ‘Crush’ CBS News Coverage Of Clinton Emails)

Follow Chuck on Twitter