Hillary Clinton’s work-related emails from her private account are now public, more than 52,000 pages detailing her tenure as secretary of state but failing to resolve questions about how she and her closest aides handled classified information.
Several investigations continue into her exclusive use of a nongovernment email account and homebrew server while she was in government, an issue that has dogged her presidential campaign, even though she seems well-positioned to capture the Democratic nomination.
The correspondence between Clinton and her advisers, friends and political acquaintances offers no shocking revelations, but it sheds light on a management style she would take with her to the White House.
Some of the things we learned:
The emails are full of sections that the State Department decided were improper for release and blanked out, ranging from personal information to national secrets.
In the end, State Department reviewers classified more than 2,000 emails, mostly at the lower “confidential” and “secret” levels. Twenty-two emails were withheld entirely from publication on grounds that they were “top secret.” None of these bore classification markings at the time they were sent and most were written by other officials.
Most of the time, Clinton and aides appeared keenly aware of the limitations of operating over an unclassified, nongovernment account. Sometimes they were frustrated by the constraints.
In a February 2010 message, Clinton exclaimed: “It’s a public statement! Just email it.” Sent moments later, the document merely said U.S. and British officials would cooperate to promote peace. “Well that is certainly worthy of being top secret,” Clinton responded sarcastically.
But the State Department’s Freedom of Information Act reviewers found plenty of cases where releasing the emails in uncensored form today, more than three years after Clinton left office, would pose diplomatic or national security concerns.
Many were written by advisers and experts, and then forwarded to Clinton by one of three close aides: Cheryl Mills, her chief of staff; Jake Sullivan, her director of policy planning; and Huma Abedin, her longtime personal assistant. All three remain in Clinton’s inner circle.
Officials describe Sullivan at the center of the most sensitive chain, concerning CIA drone strikes. These were the “top secret” emails the department would not make public even in heavily censored form.
Other messages show top aides working around the restrictions.
In February 2010, Abedin writes to Clinton about a scheduled call with Ecuador’s new foreign minister. Abedin says she is trying to get her boss a “call sheet,” but it’s classified.
In June 2011, Clinton tells Sullivan to convert talking points meant for a secure fax into “nonpaper” with “no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Clinton hardly comes across as a technological whiz.
At one point, she asks her communications adviser how to charge her iPad and update an app. Asked if she has wireless Internet, the secretary replies: “I don’t know if I have wi-fi. How do I find out?”
Clinton tells another aide that she is “never sure which of my emails you receive, so pls let me know if you receive this one and on which address you did.”
In her final year on the job, she apologizes to someone for being slow to respond to an email, describing her BlackBerry as having “a nervous breakdown on my dime!”
Technological problems included the State Department’s unclassified email system, too.
The department’s technology is “so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively,” policy chief Anne-Marie Slaughter laments in 2011.
Mills describes how hackers tried to get into her account, but says, “I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don’t do off state mail b/c it may encourage others who are out there.”
In another chain, Clinton asks assistant Nora Toiv for her email address, prompting Toiv to respond: “You’ve always emailed on my State email.” Clinton replied: “Even weirder — I just checked and I do have your State but not your gmail — so how did that happen. Must be the Chinese!”
Read more: The Washington Post