New story from Hillary camp: Sure, we read all 32,000 deleted e-mails first

posted at 12:01 pm on March 16, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

Hillary Clinton flack Nick Merrill calls this a clarification; the rest of the political world may find other terms for it. Last week, her team distributed a document of the process they used to delete 30,000 supposedly personal e-mails from Hillary’s four years as Secretary of State, using keyword searches on topics and names to eliminate official business from the stack, and then deleted all the rest. Late last night, they abruptly changed course and said that of course they read all the e-mails before deleting them:

Hillary Clinton’s camp late Sunday issued a significant clarification about the steps they say were taken to review thousands of personal emails before they were deleted, claiming her team individually read “every email” before discarding those deemed private.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill made the clarification in a written statement to Fox News. This comes after the former secretary of state’s office revealed last week that while more than 30,000 “work-related” emails were turned over to the State Department, nearly 32,000 were deemed “private” and deleted.

This admission raised questions over how her team decided to get rid of those messages. Merrill on Sunday clarified an earlier fact sheet that described some of those methods but did not say every email was read.

“We simply took for granted that reading every single email came across as the most important, fundamental and exhaustive step that was performed.  The fact sheet should have been clearer in stating that every email was read,” Merrill said.

Er … sure they did. If they intended on reading the messages marked for deletion, then why do searches to exclude only a few dozen State Department personnel, for instance? In fact, why do keyword searches at all? Reading every e-mail negates the value of keyword searches, which is to identify subsets of data that are either specifically relevant or specifically irrelevant to the task at hand.

Let’s remind ourselves of the context of these numbers, too. Hillary Clinton served officially as Secretary of State from January 21, 2009 to February 1, 2013, a span of 1,472 days. In order for 32,000 of the 62,000 e-mails on the server to be “private,” Hillary would had to have sent and received twenty-one personal e-mails each and every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. As the gross numbers show, she’d have to get more personal e-mail than work e-mail. Who in the world has that kind of “personal” e-mail flow, especially among high-ranking government officials?

One has to suspect that a great many of the “personal” and “private” e-mails had to do with Clinton Foundation business. With the revelations of connections between Hillary and donors from the corporate and foreign-government communities, the big suspicion would be that the “personal” emails might show some “pay for play” access while Clinton served as Secretary of State, as Ron Fournier has suspected for the last week or so.

The only way to settle the question would be to get the server, but Hillary refuses to part with it. Since the revelation about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail went public two weeks ago as a consequence of the Benghazi select committee’s investigation, people have demanded that committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy subpoena the server. It’s not that simple, Gowdy told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace yesterday. The scope of their authority does not include the power to subpoena private property — but the House could choose to issue a subpoena for it, and they just might:

WALLACE: Now, you say your committee can’t subpoena personal property. They can documents, papers, but not personal properties like a server. On the other hand, the House of Representatives, the full House, can. Should they?

GOWDY: Well, we shouldn’t have to. I hope it doesn’t get to that point. It’s an open legal question and any time you litigate something you’re talking about years and years. I think an imminently reasonable alternative is for her to turn over that server to an independent, neutral third party.

She says she deleted personal e-mails. Chris, I have zero interest in looking at her personal e-mails. I don’t care about her yoga practice. I don’t care about bridesmaids dresses. I don’t want to see that.

But who gets to decide what’s personal and what’s public? And if it’s a mixed-use e-mail and lots of e-mails we get in life are both personal and some work, I just can’t trust her lawyers to make the determination that the public is getting everything they’re entitled to.

WALLACE: But she said in that news conference, because she was specifically asked about this idea, have an independent person, somebody neutrally agreeable come in and look at the server, and that’s when she said it will remain private.

GOWDY: Well, there are lots of ways to motivate people in life, Chris. One is public pressure. If it becomes an issue for her, if the public believes it is reasonable for her to turn over that server which contains public information to a neutral, detached arbiter, not Congress but a retired judge or an archivist or an inspector general, then she’ll be forced to do so. Otherwise, the House as an institution, may be forced to go to court to try to get access to that.

But again, the house has no business looking at purely personal e- mails, but by the same token, she doesn’t get to decide what is purely personal and what is public.

Gowdy would prefer to see Hillary shamed into surrendering the server, but the truth is that Hillary’s pretty shameless. Her press conference last week reminded everyone of that long-enduring truth. If we are to get to the bottom of the deleted e-mails, then Gowdy needs to start pressing John Boehner into taking action.

Update: Fox’s Martha McCallum says “Hillary [hit] the backspace button” on her explanation:

Ed Henry tells McCallum that “it’s curious that the story is changing.” No kidding.

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Simple solution for Team Clinton:

1. Slight tweak in latest definition of marriage.

2. Divorce Bill, marry server.

3. Server claims spousal privilege.


Lolo on March 16, 2015 at 9:35 PM

What are the chances that the server has not been physically destroyed, smashed into smithereens? somewhere between 0 and 1%.

BCrago66 on March 16, 2015 at 10:09 PM

There still have to be emails she sent to people. Are you telling me all the Hillary emails were sent to people and NO ONE WILL TALK? Hello….

That server had to be connected to a public network – Clintons do not have their own lines. ANd there has to be nw backups somewhere. I’m not buying the “can’t find them” – I know, this is different than Lois Lerner. At the time, everyone said there were not backups – I said there were. Guess what – there are.

And, who can read 32000+ emails in a few days – man do they take us for chumps.

MN J on March 16, 2015 at 10:16 PM

This latest story is a mistake for Hillary. By saying they didn’t actually read all the emails, they have an excuse when something related to her job at the state department inevitably turns up. She could just say “Sorry, that email about Benghazi just didn’t pop up in a key word search”. Would it sound stupid? Of course, but it wouldn’t be admitting any violation of the law. Now when that unfortunate email comes out, it will look even worse.

Mahna Mahna on March 16, 2015 at 10:51 PM

My employer recently approved the use of personal smartphones/tablets for work email, calling the program BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The key issues are:

~ The device must be capable of archiving email, even if the only method of receipt is webmail
~ The work email address must not be used for personal communications
~ Any personal email address accessed on the device must not be used for work communications
~ At the discretion of the company, the communications contents of the entire device may be wiped
~ As long as the device is in use for work purposes, it is considered joint property of the individual and the company
~ Upon separation from the company, the device must be delivered for extraction and deletion of all work-related information, which is to be conducted by the company, not permitted to be conducted by the departing employee

While I’m far too information-sensitive to go along with this plan, I find the terms perfectly within the company’s right to demand as the employer. If you want to avoid having two phones, this is what you get to deal with.

Once a single official U.S. government email was delivered from Hillary using that system, it should be considered no longer personal property. I can’t believe this is even at question. If the military has probable cause to believe that an unauthorized official communication was delivered from a personal computer using a personal email account, you can be sure it would be siezed, verified, anything official copied, and sanitized (destroyed).

Is the senior diplomatic envoy of this nation subject to less scrutiny than a low-ranking military member? That would be some imbalance. . .

Freelancer on March 17, 2015 at 12:16 AM

“… I just can’t trust her lawyers to make the determination …”

… and I’m sure her lawyers all have the proper security clearances to review her emails.

J_Crater on March 17, 2015 at 8:16 AM

Of the many things awry with Hillary’s email non-testimony, there are further issues:

1. How many normal employees use up half of their email bandwidth with “personal” matters? If anyone did that in real-life it would have been noticed long before other issues came up.
2. 32000 emails? Very doubtful that Hillary authored 32000 emails in 4 years. Executives generally write much fewer emails than their subordinates. Studies of email behavior may have been done, and in my own case, I receive 8 times as many emails as I author, and I’m no slouch. I don’t believe these numbers – they are pulled from the air.

These lies are intended to give a gloss of believability to the brutal possibility that Hillary may have conducted significant illegal activity on her “private” server.

Potential breach of national security probably pales in comparison to the content of the redacted traffic.

virgo on March 18, 2015 at 11:31 PM