Ed has already highlighted John Podesta’s weekend letter to supporters in his write up today but I wanted to spell out one aspect of it in more detail…
Over the holiday weekend Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta sent a message to campaign supporters which attempts to address the State Department Inspector General’s report on the email controversy. According to a timeline set out by Podesta, Clinton knew in mid-2014, once she was contacted by the State Department, that her email had not been retained as she had previously believed. And yet, when she spoke to the media months later, she claimed her email had been “captured and preserved immediately.” So it appears Clinton’s own campaign chairman just confirmed Hillary lied when explaining her failure to turn over her email.
BuzzFeed published Podesta’s letter Monday. It reads in part [emphasis added]:
What has also been missed in a lot of the discussion is that the report brings to light the longstanding and systemic problems in the government’s electronic recordkeeping systems.
Secretary Clinton believed her emails to and from officials on their state.gov accounts were automatically captured and preserved in the State Department’s electronic system.
It was not until the Department contacted her in 2014 that she learned this was not the case. And since then, she has taken unprecedented steps to ensure public access to her emails — providing the Department with all of her work-related emails, totaling 55,000 pages, and calling for their release.
This portion of the letter is important because it deals with one of the central faults the IG report found with Clinton’s behavior. The report concluded that she failed to abide by record-keeping rules that required her to turn over official documents before leaving her post:
At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.
In fact, she did not turn over her email until nearly two years after leaving office, and only then when she was asked to do so by the State Department.
But notice the timeline that Podesta has offered here. He is saying that Clinton believed her email had been “automatically captured” whenever she emailed someone on a government account. It wasn’t until “the Depatment contacted her in July 2014 that she learned this was not the case.” So before July 2014 she believed her email was being captured automatically. After July 2014 she knew that wasn’t true.
So why was Hillary telling the media her email had been automatically captured in March 2015? At her email press conference at the United Nations she had four bullet points she wanted the press to grasp. Here are the first two of those [emphasis added]:
There are four things I want the public to know.
First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.
Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.
Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.
Clinton returned to point #2 near the end of the press conference when directly asked about the need to turn over records before leaving office. Here is her response [emphasis added]:
Under the Federal Records Act, records are defined as reported information regardless of its form or characteristics, and in meeting the record keeping obligations it was my practice to email government officials on their state or other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved.
Now, there are different rules governing the White House than there are governing the rest of the executive branch, and in order to address the requirements I was under, I did exactly what I have said. I emailed to people, and I not only knew, I expected that then to be captured in the State Department or any other government agency that I was emailing to at a .gov account.
Do you see the problem here?
According to Podesta, once the State Department contacted Clinton in July 2014, she realized that her email had not been automatically “captured and preserved.” That makes sense. If it had been captured and preserved, the State Department wouldn’t be contacting her looking for her emails. And yet, nine months later Clinton was telling the media that the “vast majority” of her emails “were captured and preserved immediately” because they went to other government accounts.
It’s not just that Clinton was wrong about her email being captured and preserved. The problem here is that, according to her own campaign chairman, she knew it wasn’t true when she said it months later.
Note: Added a few sentences to the opening paragraph for clarity.