You may recall that when this whole Hillary Clinton email business started, the former Secretary of State had turned over all of her emails to the State Department. Or, more correctly, all of the ones she deemed pertinent to serving the public. They amounted to roughly 55,000 pages. As you might expect, FOIA requests were filed immediately to gain access to them, but the subsequent tales involving various scandals, including the location of the private server, drove the original story largely under the covers. But this week it rose from the ashes like a rather fetid phoenix when State came out and said they would be releasing them… next year. (From Business Insider)
The State Department says it wants until January 2016 to complete its review and release of 55,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, Politico reports.
Those emails have been the subject of much debate leading up to Clinton’s announcement that she’s making a second run at the White House in 2016.
For their part, the State Department’s explanation of the timing is actually not that far fetched.
“The Department understands the considerable public interest in these records and is endeavoring to complete the review and production of them as expeditiously as possible. The collection is, however, voluminous and, due to the breadth of topics, the nature of the communications, and the interests of several agencies, presents several challenges.”
Before anyone gets too excited, let’s remember what it is that we’ll be getting if and when these documents come to light. It’s a collection which has been twice vetted by pretty much the last people you would want to be doing the vetting. Hillary’s staff had the first crack at it, and now State is going to filter them again. (And while Kerry may be in charge today, it’s all part of the larger Team Obama, so they’re not exactly hostile to Clinton.) There may be legitimate cases where certain bits of correspondence are too sensitive for public release, but they can stretch that definition quite a bit.
With that in mind, don’t expect bombshells. We’re not going to find anything along the lines of, “let them know I won’t make the Benghazi funerals because it would look pretty bad after I told the special forces to stand down,” or “I guess I’ll have to approve that Russian uranium deal because Chelsea’s wedding plans are bleeding my cash like a sieve.” Clinton’s team had far too long to comb over each and every one for anything too inflammatory and would have scotched anything immediately useful. But as we’ve already seen, there are stories to be told in everyone’s life, and in the case of Hillary you never know what threads might be hidden in there waiting to be tugged upon. Sometimes the facts of who you are talking to or when the exchange took place can lead a clever writer down a path which winds up somewhere interesting, even if the original conversation seemed nondescript.
The real issue for Clinton here, though, is the timing. January of 2016? Could it have come at a worse time? The official beginning of the primaries will be only weeks away, and by that point in time even Hillary will have had to have started answering some questions, making public appearances and talking to reporters. If they’d all just been dumped this winter she might have been able to file any unpleasant results under the “old news” category as she and her husband usually do, but this schedule promises some fresh meat just as the election is heating up on a national level.
If John Kerry were seriously considering another run at the White House I’d almost think that he planned this release date himself for maximum damage. As it stands, however, this is probably just the normal flow of processing such a large volume of documents and it’s simply dumb luck that it’s landing at a bad time for Hillary Clinton.