State Department Dumps Hundreds of Hillary Clinton Emails Hours Before Nevada Caucuses

Just ahead of the opening of the Caucuses, the State Department has released the latest batch of Clinton's emails, dozens of which were retroactively classified "confidential" because they contain sensitive information.
February 20, 2016, 12:50am
Photo by Kamil Kryzaczynski/EPA

Hours before the start of the Nevada caucuses, where Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a dead heat, the State Department dumped another batch of Clinton's emails from her tenure as secretary of state, dozens of which were retroactively classified as "confidential" because they contain sensitive information.

The 562 emails cover a wide range of issues, including discussions about Israeli settlements, appointing ambassadors to vacant posts, NATO-led bombings in Afghanistan that resulted in a "large number" of civilian casualties, and Clinton personally lobbying lawmakers to support free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. There was also a completely redacted email about Senator John McCain that White House official Denis McDonough was copied on, which prompted Clinton to request that her aide, Cheryl Mills, call her "thru ops" — a likely reference to classified channels.

There are numerous emails in the latest cache in which Clinton's aides discuss glowing reviews of her work that they assisted in placing in publications such as the Washington Post, as well as plans to respond to negative news reports about which Clinton had been advised. In other emails, her aides congratulate her for helping to convince Obama to support military intervention in Libya, which led to the toppling of the country's leader, Muammar Qaddafi. Dozens of other emails refer to subsequent coalition efforts in Libya.

A March 20, 2011 email sent to Clinton by Undersecretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman contained an Associated Press report in which Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, criticized international strikes on Libya that he said resulted in the deaths of civilians. (Obama announced that he authorized military action in Libya a day earlier.) Clinton said in her response to the email, "As far as we know, there were no 'civilian deaths.' Can we get a statement from the Libyan opposition to that effect w thx for helping them and request for their Arab brothers to get help as well?" An April 10, 2011 email from foreign adviser Jacob Sullivan contains talking points about improving "our public messaging and the actual execution of our Libya strategy." Attached to that email was a paper titled "Sharpening the Aims and Execution of the Coalition Mission in Libya," which was completely redacted.

On December 30, 2009, Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's unofficial adviser and longtime confidante, sent an email to Clinton about complaints he received from a former CIA official and a former CIA analyst (and possibly the sources of some of Blumenthal's intelligence on other subjects he sent to Clinton during her tenure) alleging that President Barack Obama was trying to "throw the CIA under the bus" and blame the agency for failing to thwart an attempted terrorist attack. The email centered on the failed Christmas Day plot by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit with plastic explosives hidden in his underwear.

Tyler Drumheller, who was chief of the CIA's European Division, sent Blumenthal an email exchange he had with Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who was a staunch supporter of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign against Obama. (Drumheller died last year.) Drumheller's email contained a copy of an article Johnson wrote on his blog No Quarter that took Obama to task for suggesting the CIA was responsible for the intelligence failure. Blumenthal forwarded Clinton Drumheller's email and Johnson's article:

H: I am forwarding you the email exchanges from Tyler Drumheller and Larry Johnson, which explain how the CIA is being blamed, their understanding of what went wrong in the intelligence process, and how politicization by the White House is antagonizing the intelligence community. Both Tyler and larry have called me too to express their consternation. Hope this is helpful. Sid

Clinton then forwarded Blumenthal's email to her senior advisor Philippe Reines and wrote, "FYI."

The State Department was supposed to complete the release of all 52,455 pages of Clinton's emails last month in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that VICE News filed in January 2015. But just a week before the deadline, the department said it forgot to scrutinize thousands of the communications and requested a one-month extension — that is, until the end of the Democratic primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — from a federal court judge to finish releasing the emails.

VICE News attorney Ryan James argued against the delay, noting that it would deprive voters of valuable information about Clinton's work as the nation's top diplomat. US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras agreed and last week ordered the State Department to produce the remainder of Clinton's emails in four separate batches, one of which was released last Saturday. The rest of Clinton's emails — about 5,000 pages — will be released on February 26, a day before the South Carolina primary, and on February 29, one day before Super Tuesday.

Clinton exclusively used a private email account connected to a home server to conduct official business while she served as secretary of state, a practice that was entirely unique to Clinton. Her rationale for using a private email account has changed numerous times over the past year. She ultimately said it was a matter of convenience and that in hindsight it was the wrong decision but it has taken a toll on her presidential campaign. More than 1,700 pages of her emails contained classified information, and the FBI has since seized her server and is reviewing any potential intelligence breach.