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original article: Email bombshells from Hillary’s secret account show she didn’t know when cabinet meetings were held, was dumbfounded by a fax machine and emailed aides to fetch her iced tea
July 1, 2015 by DAVID MARTOSKO
Hillary Clinton’s emails have been a subject of partisan finger-pointing and hand-wringing since the revelation in April that she had used a private home-brew server to store her messages during the four years she was secretary of state.
And on Tuesday the State Department released the first in a series of document-dumps comprising about 3,000 of the 55,000 pages Clinton turned over to State late last year.
They describe the ordinary and the shocking – everything from meeting recaps to the involvement in the agency of Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s 2008 election hatchet-man who had officially been exiled from the administration.
They also paint the onetime first lady and New York senator as technologically maladroit – she was all thumbs with an office fax machine – and distant enough from her husband Bill that their aides kept each informed about the other’s doings.
She used her email to let aides know she was thirsty. ‘Pls call Sarah and ask her if she can get me some iced tea,’ one message read.
And then there’s ‘Santa’ Nikkels– the Chappaqua, N.Y. hairdresser on Clinton’s meeting schedule who kept her from making it to the airport on time.
‘I’m seeing Santa at 8:30,’ she wrote her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin six months after taking office, ‘so [we] won’t take off until closer to 9:30.’
Buried in the din of thousands of people devouring the emails Tuesday night, though, was something more ominous for Clinton insiders: news that the State Department had decided to treat some two dozen of the messages as ‘classified’ – ruling as lawyers vetted the material that some of it was too sensitive to expose publicly.
Clinton and her campaign surrogates insisted beginning in April that her private email server was never a national security risk and never housed classified documents.
But State spokesman Alex Gerlach acknowledged Tuesday night that ‘portions of 25 emails were subsequently upgraded’ to the classification level ‘confidential’ – a notch below ‘secret.’
WHO’S SANTA? The mysterious character in the Clinton saga could be a hairdresser, a trainer, a Secret Service agent or even a dog-sitter but the State Department isn’t saying
THIRSTY: Hillary Clinton got so comfortable with email that by late 2009 she was using it to tell aides to bring her iced tea
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her Blackberry phone alongside Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in November 2011 while on an official trip to South Korea
‘It is routine to upgrade information to classified status during the FOIA [Freedom Of Information Act] process,’ he said.
The emails show that there was nothing routine, however, about the relationship between Clinton’s State Department and her ‘old friend’ Sidney Blumenthal, the man who flung spears at Barack Obama on her behalf throughout the bruising 2008 Democratic presidential campaign season.
Blumenthal was unofficially exiled from the Obama administration because the White House saw him as untrustworthy. Hillary tried, unsuccessfuly, to hire him anyway.
When she hit a dead end, Clinton put him on payroll with her family foundation at a rate of $10,000 per month.
From that perch, he sent Hillary a steady stream of intelligence briefings on Libya, including some around the time of the deadly 2012 terror attacks.
During an Iowa campaign stop in May, Clinton told reporters that Blumenthal had sent her ‘unsolicited emails’ containing advice.
But in 2009 she was in regular contact with him to ask for his counsel, the latest released emails show.
‘Are you still awake?’ she emailed him at 10:35 one October night. ‘I will call if you are.’
WHAT’S THAT SCREECHING SOUND? It took 15 minutes for a Clinton senior staffer to teach her why it?s a bad idea to take a fax machine’s handset off the hook when someone is trying to send a fax
JUST LIKE US! Clinton and her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin discussed weighty matters of state like which private jet to reserve for a trip
Clinton has also sought to downplay any thought that she was actually using information from Blumenthal in her work.
But on at least one occasion, she passed his thoughts to her most senior aides.
‘The speechwriting crew is taking Sid’s points below and massaging them into a set of remarks,’ her policy planning chief Jake Sullivan told her in an email.
The ‘Sid’ factor threatens to proide Clinton’s opponents with ammunition against her in 2016.
He was gathering intelligence for her on the sly, outside the regular chain of command, and with no legal oversight. He was also being paid by the same Clinton Foundation that was simultaneously accepting multimillion-dollar donations from foreign companies and governments.
Blumenthal also tried to get Hillary interested in an ultimately unsuccessful scheme to elect former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the presidency of the European Council. ‘Tony is somewhat downcast on his chances,’ Blumenthal wrote, suggesting Clinton might ‘weigh in’ with top European diplomats on his behalf.
‘Your part in this may yet be important,’ he wrote.
Correspondence: The majority of the emails loop in Huma Abedin who is Hillary Clinton’s vice chairwoman of her 2016 campaign for President
Blumenthal’s deep-burrowed connections in Clintonland are old news, but the number of people who managed to keep Clinton’s private email address a secret is surprising.
Despite the collective shock inside the D.C. beltway when news of the off-the-books account surfaced, many of Washington’s most influential Democrats were already in on it.
Political operative David Axelrod had her email address almost from the start, specifically asking her chief of staff for it in 2009, but claimed just weeks ago that he was unaware of it.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wrote to her at the now-infamous ‘HDR22@clintonemail.com.’
So did outgoing Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski; socialite 1-percenter Lynn Forester de Rothschild; Bill Clinton-era former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie; retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark; liberal think tank chief John Podesta of the Center for American Progress; and lawyer-lobbyist Lanny Davis – who was later shamed for taking millions from West African strongmen.
In one of the odder exchanges, Clinton urged Podesta to ‘please wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm’.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM HILLARY CLINTON’S STATE DEPARTMENT EMAILS RELEASED TUESDAY
1. Many of Washington’s most influential Democrats had Hillary’s secret address, including political operatives like David Axelrod, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski and liberal think tank chief John Podesta
2. Bill and Hillary Clinton apparently communicated through surrogates, with one Bill insider telling Hillary’s chief of staff to let her know her husband had accepted a role as UN Special Envoy to Haiti
3. The State Department’s top diplomatic protocol officer crowed to Hillary that an email contest run by political consultant Paul Begala helped her retire $500,000 of her campaign debt from the 2008 presidential race
4. Hillary’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin pressed her to make tough decisions, like whether to delay a trip departure for three hours so she could take a larger private jet
5. The State Department was worried that reporters would discover Sidney Blumenthal, a Hillary campaign hatchet-man banned from the agency by President Obama, was still secretly advising her – and Blumenthal managed to spill he beans to an Associated Press reporter without knowing who he was talking to
6. Despite later claiming Blumenthal’s frequent email memos were ‘unsolicited’ and of little value, Hillary later made some of his suggestions part of her foreign policy speeches
7. In June 2009 Hillary learned from a radio broadcast that President Obama was about to hold a cabinet meeting; she emailed her scheduler to ask ‘Can I go?’
DISTANT: When Bill Clinton accepted a United Nations offer to serve as a special envoy to Haiti, he never told his wife. The news reached her after Bill’s aide told Hillary’s aide
Also in the loop was Brian Greenspun, the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun – a newspaper that endorsed Clinton in 2008.
The Sun published a story shortly after Clinton launched her campaign, advising her on how to avoid repeating her Democratic primary collapse of eight years ago.
‘Excite Latinos and Asian-Americans,’ the paper’s reporter wrote, and ‘Take advantage of the Harry Reid machine.’
The emails released Tuesday night cover the calendar year 2009, when there was not yet any inkling of what would happen three years later in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
Republicans have bet a slice of their election credibility on the premise that Clinton’s incompetence opened the door to the 2012 terror attack there that killed a U.S. ambassador; and that her Machiavellian scheming was central to a cover-up of the nature of the attack just weeks before Obama stood for re-election.
Even when State Department lawyers have vetted every page, journalists and lawmakers may never know what Clinton deleted from the public record.
She claimed in April that she scrubbed the server of more than 31,000 emails which she deemed ‘personal’ in nature.
Twitter let out a collective guffaw Tuesday night in the direction of a December 2009 email exchange between Clinton and Abedin – who invested 15 minutes trying to teach her boss how the handset on a fax machine worked.
Exclusive: Santa’s Hair Salon in Chappaqua, which the emails disclosed was used by Hillary.
Arm’s length: Bill Clinton in Oslo, Norway, today with Norwegian foreign minister Boerge Brende. The emails show he and Hillary often communicated to each other through their aides.
‘Can you hang up the fax line?’ Abedin wrote. ‘They will call again and try fax.’
‘I thought it was supposed to be off [the] hook to work?’ Clinton responded.
‘Yes,’ Abedin wrote, ‘but hang up one more time. So they can establish the line.’
‘I did,’ Clinton replied.
‘Just pick up [the] phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up,’ Abedin shot back.
‘I’ve done it twice now,’ replied a befuddled Hillary.
It was Abedin who emailed Clinton in July 2009 to ask her about her preferred travel arrangements when a private jet wasn’t available as planned.
What to do? Wait an extra three hours for a 19-passenger Gulfstream III aircraft, or settle for the six-seat Learjet that’s fueled and ready?
‘The g3 is delayed till 5pm wheels up,’ Abedin wrote her. ‘There is a lear available at 2pm with 6 seats. Do u want to just leave at 5?’
In other instances it was chief of staff Cheryl Mills who shed light on Clinton’s life.
When former president Bill Clinton agreed to serve as the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti following a devastating 2009 earthquake, he didn’t tell her.
It was Bill’s trusted aide Doug Band who told Mills: ‘Wjc [Bill] just told SecGen [Ban Ki-moon] that he would do Haiti special envoy,’ Band wrote her.
‘Wjc said he was going to call hrc [Hillary] but hasn’t had time.’
Mills ricocheted the message to her own deputy in two minutes’ time.
‘You need to walk this to HRC if she is not gone,’ Mills wrote aide Nora Toiv. ‘I am also going to give WH [the White House] heads up.’
While nothing in Tuesday night’s release validates the GOP’s hope for evidence that Hillary is crooked or misused her office, another top State Department official may have violated federal election law.
How many want to be president? The emails revealed that Tony Blair (second from left with his wife Cherie in 1998) felt his bid to be president of the European Council was floundering. Sidney Blumenthal urged Hillary to support her and former President Clinton’s old friend in his campaign, which ultimately failed
Chief Protocol Officer Capricia Penavic Marshall emailed Democratic political consultant Paul Begala – and another recipient whose name the State Department redacted – to thank him for helping raise a half-million dollars to pay Clinton’s bills from her failed presidential run.
‘We raised $500K from the email contest!!,’ Marshall wrote. ‘You all are amazing – the world adores you! You put a serious hole in hrc debt!’
Federal law forbids government employees from using taxpayer-funded resources, including office computers and other devices, in connection with political fundraising – even if the money collected goes to retire old campaign costs.
‘What we learned tonight is troubling,’ Republican National Committee chairman Reice Priebus said in a statement Tuesday night.
‘Administration officials knew more than previously disclosed, Sidney Blumenthal was involved with more than just providing Libya off-the-books intelligence, and State Department officials were possibly fundraising on government accounts.’
Priebus called the revelations ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ and joined congressional Republicans in demanding that she hand over to independent investigators the actual computer hardware that once held the messages.
In correspondence with the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Clinton’s attorney has insisted that’s not going to happen.
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