State Department to withhold Hillary-Obama e-mails

posted at 11:31 am on January 30, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Rank has its privileges — and the executive rank has one in particular. The State Department announced yesterday that they will not release 22 e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server containing top-secret information, but they also will withhold another 18 unclassified e-mails. Those messages involve President Barack Obama, and the State Department has decided to honor a claim of executive privilege to keep those out of the public record:

Separately, the State Department said on Friday that it would be similarly withholding 18 emails sent between Clinton and President Obama, “to protect the president’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel.”

The emails, made up from eight email chains, “have not been determined to be classified,” Kirby told reporters on Friday. “They are entirely separate and distinct from the emails that were upgraded.”

The White House had asked for the emails to be kept secret in October.

On one level, this is a rather straightforward executive privilege claim. Normal communications between a president and his aides — Cabinet secretaries would fit in that description — can be exempted from regular archival and oversight functions as a way for presidents to get blunt assessments. (Whether they do or get mostly yes-men feedback is another matter.) That would not apply if the communications served an illegal purpose, as Richard Nixon found out in Watergate, but for the most part direct communications between a president and a political appointee can be claimed to have privilege. This seems no different.

On the other hand, though, these e-mails might undermine Obama’s contention that no one knew that Hillary Clinton exclusively used an unauthorized and unsecured e-mail server. That has been the White House position ever since the scandal broke, distancing themselves from the stench by claiming that they assumed she used official communications systems for her work. That may be possible, but it stretches credulity — and the executive-privilege claim here undermines it. If these communications were so sensitive to Obama’s decision-making process, why would he have allowed them to be conducted through a private e-mail server at all? He certainly could tell by her domain name that it wasn’t an official system (which would use a .gov extension). Wouldn’t Obama have said, “Let’s take this discussion to a more secure system,” if he was unaware that Hillary didn’t use State Department e-mail at all?

Also, let’s not forget that the State Department and the White House have decided not to release the 22 e-mails at all because of the high likelihood that others have copies of Hillary’s system, and they don’t want to tip off where the highly sensitive information is within it. It’s not going to be very difficult for the same malefactors to find Obama’s e-mails in the e-mail system. The only people who won’t be seeing these messages will be ordinary American citizens; other nations and organizations have probably been reading them for years. Don’t be surprised when they start floating to the surface, no matter how many claims of executive privilege the White House makes.

Update: Fixed a redundant construct in the first paragraph after the excerpt.

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Nope. Not a photoshop. Honest.

justltl on January 30, 2016 at 12:18 PM

When did hillary get perky boobs?

Solaratov on January 30, 2016 at 7:09 PM


Solaratov on January 30, 2016 at 7:10 PM

Golden Oldie

“I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia. There was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the first lady.

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Del Dolemonte on January 30, 2016 at 7:43 PM

If these communications were so sensitive to Obama’s decision-making process, why would he have allowed them to be conducted through a private e-mail server at all?


King Barack knew exactly what she was doing.

But no big deal, we already knew he, like Hillary! is an inveterate LIAR!

GarandFan on January 30, 2016 at 8:59 PM

Just when you think it can’t get any worse …
or, better, from the POV of getting her behind bars stat.

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 9:06 PM

Yes, the facts are that after years of searching and endlessly “leaking” the same news over and over again to get you suckers all excited, that no crime has ever been discovered, nor any negative effects resulting from her server setup.

These are the only facts I have on my side, and they also happen to be the only relevant facts.

Stop being suckers.

everdiso on January 30, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Funny – I keep noticing that the number, content, and secrecy level of the emails uncovered keeps changing.

However, I will agree that no one has demonstrated an incontrovertible negative effect, since the Russians and Chinese are not exactly planning to tell us what they have hacked.

This may explain why Iran’s been laughing at Obama and his deal, of course.

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 9:14 PM

Good points.

Under normal circumstances, this is a yawner of a non-story. Perfectly common for Executive branch internal communications to not be made public during the administration’s tenure.

These are not normal circumstances. It is an extremely simple thing to strip all body content from the emails and publish the headers and other metadata. Prove conclusively that emails to and from the White House were handled by a commercial email address instead of .gov, on a private, unsecured, unmanaged system.

Freelancer on January 30, 2016 at 1:01 PM

What did the President know … apparently, nothing.
But his aides knew plenty.

To my earlier post regarding the FBI: g2825m on January 30, 2016 at 1:13 PM

That statement by Josh Earnest has got the back up of our contacts at the FBI and Justice Department for two reasons… They are SUPER PISSED OFF to use a technical term. Number one, Josh Earnest has absolutely no clearance or visibility in the FBI investigation. Number two, they say it really seems part of a troubling pattern from the White House because the president earlier said he did not see any national security implications to the Clinton emails and then we found out he had never been briefed.

g2825m on January 30, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Kudos to g2825m for the other posts pointing out elementary security aspects, which you shouldn’t need briefing to understand.

Right now I’m inclined to believe that the FBI are being clever, not stalling or delaying or floundering, but trying to get the evidence, understand its significance, understand (with other agencies) what damage has been done, and then also trying to time any legal actions so that they are effective, and not just pointless gestures. Also the prosecutors need to be careful that the prosecution and trial process doesn’t cause even more information to leak and more damage to be caused.

This isn’t a job to rush.

YiZhangZhe on January 30, 2016 at 1:46 PM


The most ███████████ administration ever.

Jason58 on January 30, 2016 at 4:42 PM

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 9:18 PM

PackerBronco on January 30, 2016 at 3:25 PM

Agree with your bottom portion of your assessment, however, this portion:
“there is no evidence of ‘intent’ to misuse classified information.” by the law, one does not need to show intent to misuse the classified docs to be in trouble. Just having the reporting on your system is enough to get you in trouble with the law.

whenever “spillage” occurred overseas, ALL computers were taken and wiped (and not with a cloth) with the sensitive information. So not only should HRC’s computer be cleaned but every person who received or sent it (Huma, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, DAvid Kendall, Syd Vicious Blumenthal, et al). HOwever, this task would be so daunting that it is not even containable and the FBI and State know this…

This is WHY she is in so much legal trouble, however, DOJ (Lynch) will not bring charges as the FBI is only an Investigative arm.

g2825m on January 30, 2016 at 3:58 PM

Being in trouble with the law clearly does not equate to being in trouble with the DOJ.
The rampant lawlessness at the highest-levels is feeding the rage of the people (when they can find out about it).
Even if they don’t know all the facts and procedural details, they know that something has gone terribly wrong.

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 9:20 PM

-Ongoing manipulation of the news to actively promote most of the destructive moral, social and political elements of the country.

The mainstream media is the Fifth Column. The enemy within. More than any other influence, they are the cause of the imminent demise of the United States. To save the country, most of the efforts should be directed toward destruction of the Media.

justltl on January 30, 2016 at 5:41 PM

Excellent laundry list of the dirty linen.

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 9:21 PM

Excellent point raised by a poster on another forum, who unfortunately ignores that Hillario!’s other accomplishment as the Junior US Carpetbagger Senator from New York was to vote in favor of Chimpy Bush’s War of Choice, “with conviction”, as she said on the Senate Floor at the time:

As a Senator, her most significant accomplishment was naming a stretch of highway after Tim Russert.

Del Dolemonte on January 31, 2016 at 1:44 AM

Separately, the State Department said on Friday that it would be similarly withholding 18 emails sent between Clinton and President Obama, “to protect the president’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel.”

No problem. Just release the headers.

You know, the part that says, From: _____ (_____@_____.___), To: _____ (_____@_____.___), and the time/date stamp.

GrumpyOldFart on February 1, 2016 at 7:06 AM

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