Judge asks government to ask Clinton aides not to destroy official emails

A federal judge is asking the government to ask two top former Hillary Clinton aides to not destroy any official emails. Judge Emmet Sullivan sent a letter to the State Department with the request on Friday. POLITICO snagged a copy of the order.

The Court hereby directs the Government to request that Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Ms. Huma Abedin, and Ms. Cheryl Mills i) not delete any federal documents, electronic or otherwise, in their possession or control, and ii) provide appropriate assurances to the Government that the above-named individuals will not delete any such documents. The Government shall inform the Court of the status of its compliance with this Order no later than August 12, 2015, including a copy of any assurances provided by Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills that they will not delete any federal documents in their possession or control.

Where it goes from here is a little confusing. Cheryl Mills’ attorney told the State Department she’d hand over her work records on August 10th, but then included this (emphasis mine):

Ms. Mills does not believe that she has paper Copies of potential federal records in her possession. Following our production on August 10, 2015, we have instructed her to delete any and all electronic copies in her possession.

Given that the documents Ms. Mills produced and will produce to the State Department are the subject of inquiries, Paul, Weiss will maintain an electronic version of the Mills production at our office until we receive additional instructions from you regarding this material. In the event that you request, due to concerns over potential reclassification, that we delete the copy maintained by Paul, Weiss, we ask that you expeditiously inform us and arrange access to those documents for Ms. Mills and her counsel as you offered in your letter.

There are a couple of nuggets of information here. The first is Mills does plan on deleting her emails after submitting “additional documents” on August 10th. The second is Mills’ attorneys will have some material, but want to delete it ASAP. No one really knows what documents Mills is going to turn over to the State Department and no one will know until they get submitted. This is troublesome because it’s possible Mills is going to hold back more information under the guise of “it wasn’t a federal record so it was deleted.” POLITICO also notes neither Mills nor Huma Abedin promised to sign a declaration under the penalty of perjury, while Clinton submitted hers on Friday. There might be a reason for this as The New York Times may have accidentally uncovered (emphasis mine).

As Mrs. Clinton and her staffers have repeatedly pointed out, most of her emails — they say about 90 percent — were automatically captured on State Department servers because she was writing to aides and colleagues who had State.gov addresses. Some were not captured, however, because a few top aides also used private addresses.

The released Clinton emails show Huma Abedin had a clintonmail.com address, but she also had a state.gov one. Mills had a state.gov email, but there’s also one which is redacted. It’s possible both Mills and Abedin have emails from Clinton which she’d already deleted. POLITICO points out the criticism of Clinton isn’t going to stop.

Clinton’s formal declaration may not satisfy her critics because while she has said she directed that all potential federal records in her private email account be turned over to her former agency, she can’t personally certify that the handover was complete because she left the actual sorting process to her attorneys.

Judicial Watch noted the State Department didn’t produce to the judge any letter which said Clinton was told to hand over her emails. They’re not the only ones who have noticed this. Sidney Powell at New York Observer isn’t buying any of what Clinton’s attorneys have told the State Department or the judge.

This all just surfaced in State Department’s status report filed today in response to Judge Sullivan’s order. Yesterday evening, State finally produced some correspondence between it and Hillary’s right and left hands—Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. It has not produced its correspondence with Ms. Clinton, and it is now clear that Ms. Clinton, Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills plan to thumb their noses at the Judge and the State Department. No one is “cooperating,” despite their empty rhetoric to the contrary.

The correspondence that has been produced verifies that the State Department itself has not been forthcoming with Judge Sullivan, with Congress, or with anyone else. Using her private server allowed Ms. Clinton to use an off-the-grid system for her entire tenure in the Department, and the State Department kept that startling fact a secret as long as possible. It is simply shocking that the State Department did not immediately inform Congress, the Court, and Judicial Watch that Ms. Clinton operated solely on a private email server and that the State Department did not have her records. It took months even to discover those crucial facts. And as Judge Emmet G. Sullivan bores toward the truth, more revelations continue to surface

It’s amusing Powell thought it was shocking the State Department didn’t bother revealing Clinton’s private server. State Department probably didn’t want the information to come out because it could end up being a black eye to whoever sent email to Clinton. This is the same Clinton who wiped her private server around October 2014, instead of turning it over to congressional investigators. She did turn over 33,000 emails last December, but only some of those have seen the light of day. The New York Times even notes Clinton may have wanted to keep data secret.

So there may have been other reasons for using a private server. For an oft-attacked politician considering a presidential run, the server would give Mrs. Clinton some control over what would become public from her four years as the nation’s top diplomat. “I’ve been following it very carefully,” said Shiva Ayyadurai, an email pioneer who has designed email systems for both government and large corporations. A private system, he noted, “would make it possible to decide what would be disclosed and what would not.”

The best is yet to come on this if Congress and Judicial Watch are able to keep pressing Clinton for information and if the press actually does its job. Clinton is partially lucky this stuff is coming out now, which is why Congress should consider drawing it out a bit. If they can get Clinton before a committee next January or next spring, it could make it even harder for her to either win primaries or a general election. Of course, if a bombshell comes out now, it could end up scuttling her own campaign. If that happens, here’s hoping the GOP has a “Plan B” for how they’re going to fight whoever the Democratic presidential candidate is. (If they learned the lessons of 2008, which is anyone’s guess.)