Hillary’s staff selected which emails to turn over to the State Department for preservation using a series of search terms. Any email that didn’t match those terms was considered private. No person reviewed the emails to insure their contents were indeed private before they were deleted.
The NY Times reported last week that Hillary’s team “reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department.” The process her team used to select those emails was unknown until now. Time magazine’s cover story this week goes a bit farther in explaining how it was done.
For more than a year after she left office in 2013, she did not transfer work-related email from her private account to the State Department. She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department–spurred by the congressional investigation–asked her to do so. And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache–31,830 emails–did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be “private, personal records.”
As Time suggests, this process seems “haphazard at best. ““I would question why lawyers for Secretary Clinton would use keyword searching, a method known to be fraught with limitations, to determine which of the emails with a non-.gov address pertained to government business,” a former lawyer for the National Archives tells Time.
Given how this was done, it appears there is no one, not Hillary and not anyone on her staff, who can vouch for the private nature of all of the 31,830 deleted emails.