Latest emails show top officials aware of Clinton's private address

Jul 1, 2015 11:52 AM by CBS/AP

Senior Obama administration officials, including the White House chief of staff, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her government correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by the State Department late Tuesday night

The chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, requested Clinton's email address on Sept. 5, 2009, according to one email. His request came three months after top Obama strategist David Axelrod asked the same question of one of Clinton's top aides.

But it's unclear whether the officials realized Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York - a potential security risk and violation of administration policy.

Axelrod told CBS News that he had always known Clinton used a private address but that he was unaware of her use of a private server.

"I have been very open that I knew that she had a non State address," Axelrod told CBS News' Julianna Goldman. "I didn't know she used it exclusively or that she had her own server."

The nearly 2,000 emails ranged from the mundane details of high-level public service - scheduling secure lines for calls, commenting on memos and dealing with travel logistics - to an email exchange with former President Jimmy Carter and a phone call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Carter mildly chided Clinton about how to handle the release of two hostages held in North Korea, while Clinton recounted that Rice, her predecessor, "called to tell me I was on strong ground" regarding Israel.

One day in November 2009, aide Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton a list of 11, back-to-back calls she was scheduled to make to foreign ministers around the world.

"Can't wait. You know how much I love making calls," Clinton responded.

In one email, Clinton tells Abedin, "I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Can I go? If not, who are we sending?" Clinton was later informed it wasn't a full Cabinet meeting.

The emails also reflect the vast scope of Clinton's network, after several decades in Washington. She asks aides for restaurant recommendations for a meal with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (whom she refers to as DiFi), advises her future 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta to wear socks to bed, and passes on advice from former campaign strategist Mark Penn with the note "overlook the source."

Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski even exchanged emails with Clinton after the former secretary took a nasty fall in 2009 and fractured her right elbow.

"Oops. When I wanted you to trip... I didn't mean that literally. Be careful. Do the therapy. Get well," Mikulski wrote.

Clinton responded: "Barb--Thanks, my dear friend, for your good wishes. I am on the mend... Let's try again for dinner soon."

The latest batch of emails also includes a few exchanges showing Clinton's unfamiliarity with certain technologies -- including fax machines.

One back-and-forth between Abedin and Clinton showed the long-time aide informing the then-secretary on how to use a fax line.

"[C]an you hang up the fax line, they will call again and try fax," Abedin's subject line read. Another message in the email chain instructed: "Just pick up phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up."

One email exchange also showed that Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff, was concerned over someone "twittering" in Clinton's name.

"Not sure who is Twittering at DOS," Mills wrote in a subject line, before continuing that "we should not be twittering in the Secretary's name since she is not the person actually twittering."

Clinton's emails have become an issue in her early 2016 campaign, as Republicans accuse her of using a private account rather than the standard government address to avoid public scrutiny of her correspondence. As the controversy has continued, Clinton has seen ratings of her character and trustworthiness drop in polling.

Conservatives have also been suspicious of her communications with non-State employees, including Sidney Blumenthal, an old confidant and advisor to the Clinton family. Blumenthal, who makes a number of appearances in the released emails, reached out to the Secretary on a variety of topics.

Blumenthal appeared before the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi in June and produced several memos to Clinton regarding the 2012 attack in Libya.

The emails, covering March through December 2009, were posted online as part of a court mandate that the agency release batches of Clinton's private correspondence from her time as secretary of state every 30 days starting June 30.

The newly released emails show Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her private email server that were later classified "confidential" by the U.S. government because officials said they contained activities relating to the intelligence community.

At least two-dozen emails were also marked "sensitive but unclassified" at the time they were written, including a December 2009 message from Abedin about an explosion in Baghdad that killed 90. Though Clinton has said her home system included "numerous safeguards," it's not clear if it used encryption software to communicate securely with government email services. That would have protected her communications from the prying eyes of foreign spies or hackers.

Still, Clinton's correspondence from her first year as the nation's top diplomat left little doubt that the Obama administration was aware that Clinton was using a personal address.

"The Secretary and Rahm are speaking, and she just asked him to email her - can you send me her address please?" Amanda Anderson, Emanuel's assistant, wrote.

Abedin passed along the request to Clinton. "Rahm's assistant is asking for your email address. U want me to give him?"

Less than a minute later, Clinton replied that Abedin should send along the address.

In June, Axelrod requested her address, according to a message to Clinton from chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

"Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can't look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours," Clinton replied, referencing some of her top aides.

The White House counsel's office was not aware at the time Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed government guidance, the White House counsel's office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity.

Hillary Clinton says personal email use a matter of "convenience"
Separately, the State Department on Tuesday provided more than 3,600 pages of documents to the Republican-led House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, including emails of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, and former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan.

The regular releases of Clinton's correspondence all but guarantee a slow drip of revelations from the emails throughout her primary campaign, complicating her efforts to put the issue to rest. The goal is for the department to publicly unveil 55,000 pages of her emails by Jan. 29, 2016 - just three days before Iowa caucus-goers will cast the first votes in the Democratic primary contest. Clinton has said she wants the emails released as soon as possible.

Clinton turned her emails over to the State Department last year, nearly two years after leaving the Obama administration. She has said she got rid of about 30,000 emails she deemed exclusively personal. Only she and perhaps a small circle of advisers know the content of the discarded communications.

Terrence A. Duffy, the executive chairman of the CME Group in Chicago, writes to Clinton that he had dinner on Dec. 1 with "a mutual friend of ours," South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. "Lindsey always talks about how much he likes you and said if I were to be in contact with you to say hi from him."

Graham is now running for president, primarily on a foreign policy platform focused heavily on attacking Clinton's credentials.

State Department aide P.J. Crowley wrote to Clinton in November 2009 that she'd earned a front-page New York Times photo upon her arrival in Afghanistan. The picture prompted an online poll in which 77 percent liked Clinton's coat.

"Thx!," Clinton responded. "I bought the coat in Kabul in 03 and thought it should get a chance to go home for a visit!"



Most Popular