Clinton Told Aide To Strip Confidential E-mail
Hillary Clinton once ordered an aide to strip a classified document of its headings and send it to her private e-mail server, new information shows.
The ‘smoking gun’ e-mails are included in a batch of nearly 3,000 newly-released e-mails released by the U.S. State Department on Friday, as part of its ongoing investigation into Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State.
Clinton has always maintained she never used the private server, unknown to anyone outside of a small circle in the Obama administration, to send or receive State Department e-mails marked ‘Classified’ or higher.
In the newly-released e-mail exchange, dated February 27, 2011, then-secretary Clinton impatiently asks Jake Sullivan, then her deputy chief of staff and now her campaign foreign-policy adviser, for a set of talking points.
Part of the exchange is redacted, making the context of the e-mails unknown. But at one point, Sullivan tells Clinton that aides “say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.”
Clinton writes back to Sullivan, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Blogger Powerline notes that “‘nonpaper’ probably means an electronic transmission, via e-mail, as opposed to a fax. In the electronic version, the classification markings would be removed. This explanation of what Hillary meant is logical and consistent with ordinary English usage.”
CBS News notes that while it is unclear if the talking points in question contained material that should be marked ‘Confidential,’ “in some cases, the material contained in such memos may still be sensitive — especially if the report originates from intelligence agencies.”
Powerline also quoted one of its readers who recently left the State Department and explains the term ‘nonpaper’:
In the State context, “nonpaper” has a very specific meaning, which makes sense here. Apparently, the original document consisted of “talking points,” essentially a script for a meeting with a foreign official. They were likely classified, although possibly only at the Confidential level. That’s not clear, but it would be why it was to be sent by classified fax. Since talking points for the Secretary of State would almost always be at least Confidential (I can think of some exceptions, such as a courtesy “Happy National Day” phone call, but Clinton classified even such routine matters within the Department to a far greater extent than any of her predecessors), they could not be sent in an unclassified e-mail or via an open fax.
A “nonpaper,” as the name implies, is a less formal document. It can be just general guidance for a meeting, or in other contexts a set of notes which can be left with the foreign interlocutor as an unofficial memo. What she seems to be saying here is to relabel the talkers as a nonpaper so it can also be sent as unclassified (or SBU — Sensitive But Unclassified — which has no legal meaning but alerts the recipient that it is not to be shared casually) in an unclassified e-mail.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby explained to CBS on Friday that it is not uncommon for non-classified documents to be crafted and shared on the classified system.
Further, according to the Associated Press, the State Department said a review showed that the document in question was sent “apparently by secure fax, after all,” and was never was sent to Clinton by e-mail.
Even if that is true, the new correspondence shows that it was common practice for Clinton to have aides strip documents marked ‘Confidential’ of their headings and send them to her private server.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) blasted Clinton after the discovery of the ‘smoking gun’ e-mails, calling her time as Secretary of State “disturbing” and that she should “come clean” about what she did.
“It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server,” said Grassley in a press release, who went on to ask: “How long has the State Department been aware of this email? Why is it just now being released? Was her instruction actually carried out? If so, has the FBI opened a criminal inquiry into these circumstances?”
A spokesperson for Grassley’s office told CNN that it is working under the assumption the email was classified, since Clinton’s aides would have had other ways to send the document to her if it wasn’t, such as through email.
Friday’s e-mail batch was released a week after the department failed to meet a court-ordered target to publish 82-percent of e-mails by the end of 2015.
Kirby noted on Thursday that the Friday release would “meet the 82-percent mark.” In a briefing with reporters, he attributed December’s delay to a “variety of reasons,” including the holidays.
Fox News reports that sixty-six of those e-mails were upgraded to “Confidential,” the lowest level of classification, though they were not deemed so at the time they were sent. One document was subsequently marked “Secret.”
The total number of classified e-mails found on Clinton’s personal server has risen to 1,340 with the latest release. Seven of those e-mails have been labeled “secret.”
Since the discovery of Clinton’s private server in March of 2016, the State department has retroactively classified information in more than 1,000 of her e-mails, notes CNN.
The latest e-mail batch was also released to the public at 1:30am on Friday morning, a clear indication of a “document dump” done in the hopes it would be overlooked by the media. This point did not escape RNC chair Reince Priebus, who implied in a statement that the State Department was covering up for Clinton.