After news broke this week that Hillary Clinton’s private email server had Top Secret information on it, Hillary’s campaign sent out a 13-paragraph email seeking to soothe worried supporters. The email concludes the whole story is “nonsense” and encourages readers who want more details to click on a link for a “complete Q&A” about the matter. But the complete Q&A completely and intentionally omits any mention of the Top Secret emails.
The Q&A explainer page has been on Hillary’s website for at least a month and has been updated at least once with some but not all of the latest developments. Here’s the key question about whether there was classified information on Hillary’s server and whether she lied saying there was not, based on information on her website:
Clinton said she did not use her email to send or receive classified information, but the State Department and two Inspectors General said some of these emails do contain classified information. Was her statement inaccurate?
Clinton only used her account for unclassified email. No information in Clinton’s emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them.
When information is reviewed for public release, it is common for information previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified if the State Department or another agency believes its public release could cause potential harm to national security, law enforcement or diplomatic relations.
The link in the paragraph above leads to an NPR story dated May 22nd, nearly three months ago. At the time, the State Department was eagerly helping Hillary clarify that some of her emails had been classified retroactively. In other words, they were not classified when she sent or received them.
After reviewing a sampling of the 55,000 pages of emails, the Inspectors General have proffered that a small number of emails, which did not contain any classified markings and/or dissemination controls, should have been classified at the time they were sent. The State Department has said it disagrees with this assessment.
Clinton hopes the State Department and the agencies involved in the review process will sort out as quickly as possible which of the 55,000 pages of emails are appropriate to share with the public.
And that’s the whole answer. Nothing about the IC revealing this week that there were two instances of Top Secret material in Hillary’s inbox. It’s a curious omission since it likely prompted the FBI’s decision to collect Hillary’s server and the thumb drive full of emails in the possession of her attorney. Hillary’s Factsheet does get around to mentioning the hand over of the server, but there is no mention of why the FBI wanted it:
Is it true that her email server and a thumb drive were recently turned over to the government? Why?
Again, when information is reviewed for public release, it is common for information previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified if the State Department or another agency believes its public release could cause potential harm to national security, law enforcement or diplomatic relations.
Notice we’re right back to language about previously unclassified material being upgraded, i.e. retroactive classification. That’s not relevant here.
Clinton hopes that State and the other agencies involved in the review process will sort out as quickly as possible which emails are appropriate to share with the public, and that the release will be as timely and as transparent as possible.
The review process of the two Top Secret emails by members of the Intelligence Community is complete. The agencies involved–CIA, NSA, etc.–have already made a determination. It’s very odd that Hillary’s team is still writing about this as if that hasn’t happened.
When the Department upgraded some of the previously unclassified email to classified, her team worked with the State Department to ensure copies of her emails were stored in a safe and secure manner.
Again, we’re back to the situation as it existed months ago, before the IGs said there was definitely classified material on Hillary’s server. Hillary’s team really does appear to be suggesting, without ever quite saying, that the situation hasn’t changed. By ignoring the Top Secret email story completely, her team is able to talk around the problem in an intentionally vague and misleading way.
She also directed her team to give her server that hosted her email account while she was Secretary to the Department of Justice, as well as a thumb drive containing copies of her emails that already had been provided to the State Department. Clinton has pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry.
Finally we get some recent news, but notice the words “Top Secret” do not appear, nor can they be found anywhere else in the “complete Q&A.”
Hillary’s team is playing a game in this explainer. By repeatedly mentioning the idea of retroactive classification and never mentioning the Top Secret emails on her server, they are suggesting this is all “nonsense.” The fact that the DOJ collected her server and her thumb drive after the Top Secret information was confirmed is proof that’s not the case. So far the FBI is taking this seriously, even if Hillary’s campaign is not.