WASHINGTON—A 2010 email exchange that had been previously redacted from related public releases confirmed on Sept. 30 that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system was widely known among senior department officials.
The email was ordered by a federal judge to be released to Judicial Watch, in litigation prompted by the nonprofit government watchdog’s multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents, testimony, and other information concerning Clinton’s use of the unsecured, private email system.
Clinton used the system, which was located in the New York mansion she shares with former President Bill Clinton, to conduct official U.S. government diplomatic business. Dozens of highly sensitive, classified documents were circulated on the email system by Clinton and her aides.
The Dec. 24, 2010, email was originally written by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley and was addressed to Clinton at her private email address.
Crowley also cc’d the email to a lengthy list of Clinton’s inner circle of advisers, including Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications Philippe Reines, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, and numerous others.
The lengthy email concerned an “update on the Wikileaks situation,” but it’s impossible to know from the document any particulars about the topic because virtually the entire contents were redacted by the State Department when it was released to Judicial Watch.
In the Crowley email, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Baer received it as a forward from Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner. Baer then cautioned Posner, “Be careful, you just gave the secretary’s personal email address to a bunch of folks …”
In response, Posner asked Baer, “Should I say don’t forward? Did not notice.” Baer then told Posner that, “Yeah—I just know that she guards it pretty closely.”
Three years ago, State Department officials released the Crowley email, but redacted Clinton’s email address and the exchange between Baer and Posner, thus concealing the fact that it was sent to her private email address and that it prompted the warning to Posner.
As a result, the only unredacted text in the email was Crowley’s opening greeting to Clinton: “Madame Secretary, first of all, Merry Christmas. I trust you, the President and Chelsea will have a special holiday.”
Judicial Watch said in a statement accompanying the release of the latest text, that “despite a recent court order requiring production of the email, the DOJ [Department of Justice] and State Department only produced it 10 days ago, after Judicial Watch threatened to seek a court order to compel its production.”
Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, said in the statement that his group “just caught the State Department and DOJ red-handed in another email cover-up – they all knew about the Clinton email account but covered up the smoking-gun email showing this guilty knowledge for years.”
The discovery process that resulted in the email’s most recent release was ordered by Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Lamberth granted Judicial Watch extensive discovery in order to seek information and evidence on whether Clinton used her private email system to evade the FOIA.
The FOIA requires the release of all government documents requested by any individual, unless it is specifically covered by one of nine statutory exemptions such as national security, privacy, and commercial secrets.
The Lamberth-directed discovery also covers whether the State Department’s attempts to settle this FOIA case in 2014 and 2015 were done in bad faith, and if the State Department adequately searched for all records responsive to the Judicial Watch FOIA request.
Lamberth warned the government recently that “there is no FOIA exemption for political expedience [or] … bureaucratic incompetence.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at email@example.com.