More than 1,000 pages of emails recovered from Hillary Clinton’s private server by the FBI during the bureau’s probe into her handling of classified information was released by the State Department Thursday afternoon, five days before the presidential election.
The State Department noted that the majority of these emails, released in response to a VICE News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, are “near duplicates” of emails Clinton’s attorneys turned over to State in December 2014.
But there were also emails never before released. Perhaps the most notable revealed discussions about how hard the State Department should push to pursue Julian Assange after his organization, WikiLeaks, released hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and the so-called Iraq War Logs that laid bare the extent of civilian casualties.
“We view this not as a ‘clever game’ of wiki leaks [sic] but rather as a ‘criminal act’ against the United States of America,” Abedin wrote in a previously unreleased Dec. 2, 2010, email to Clinton that laid out a way to respond to the leak. “He might think this is a clever game today, but when he is prosecuted and if convicted he will move from being a clever cyber thief to a convicted criminal and -will find out that’s a whole different kind of game.”
Over the past few weeks, WikiLeaks released highly damaging emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s email account.
Also new and noteworthy about this cache is that, for the first time, we appear to be seeing Clinton speak candidly. In the bulk of the 30,000 or so emails that the State Department has released over the past year, Clinton’s responses were often limited to “Pls print.” This suggests that Clinton’s attorneys did not turn over the full chain of these emails to the State Department. Moreover, the emails released Thursday contain markings indicating they’d been deleted before being recovered from BlackBerry mobile devices by the FBI.
For example, in one email, Clinton responds to close confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who sent her an email about an “unfortunate incident” in which former CIA officer turned “Christian antiwar leftist” Ray McGovern was booted from a speech Clinton gave at George Washington University in 2011. McGovern said afterward that he was beaten and arrested. Blumenthal was pointing out that Larry Johnson, another former CIA officer and fierce critic of Clinton, wrote about the incident on his blog, No Quarter, under the headline, “Hillary Blamed for Ray McGovern’s beating.”
Johnson wrote that McGovern “was physically accosted and arrested for disorderly conduct for the simple act of standing up and turning his back to Hillary.”
Blumenthal told Clinton McGovern is “harmless” and advised her to “have someone check this out and also have someone apologize to Ray McGovern.”
Clinton’s response was not previously disclosed. But it’s eye-opening.
“I appreciate your sending thigs (sic) to me,” Clinton told Blumenthal. “Neither State nor my staff had anything to do w this. The man stood up just as I was starting and GW–which claims their quick actions were part of their standard operating procedures to remove anyone who stands up and starts speaking while an invited guest is talking–moved to remove him. GW claims he was not in any way injured. We have no other info but I will see what else can be done.”
Reached by email, McGovern told VICE News no one from Clinton’s camp “spoke to me or got in touch with me in any way.”
Clinton also repeatedly expressed a desire to spend time with her family, joked about an unexpected early-morning appointment after Abedin apologized for it — “I was just surprised, but I was at least up and conscious!” — and responded to a tightly packed Monday schedule with “Quite a day!”
The disclosure comes after FBI Director James Comey revealed last Friday in a letter to House leaders that a separate FBI probe turned up emails that were potentially relevant to the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s private server. It was later revealed by the New York Times and other news outlets that the FBI had been investigating disgraced former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and that in so doing agents had discovered emails on his laptop belonging to Abedin that could relate to Clinton’s server.
Nearly all of the emails posted to the State Department’s website Thursday are communications exchanged between Abedin and Clinton. Some of the “near duplicates” are of emails related to Israeli settlements, al-Qaeda in Pakistan, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the former vice president of Egypt and director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The State Department is set to release another batch of emails Friday, said State Department spokesman Mark Toner, the last such release before Tuesday’s election.
This story has been updated with a comment from Ray McGovern