More bad news for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton a day before the Nevada caucuses the State Department released on Friday evening, Feb. 19, 2016, another batch of her private emails from her tenure as Secretary of State. The good news is that this time the State Department did not have to classify any of the emails as secret or top secret.
The State Department released on Friday 1,116 pages and 562 emails. Of the emails released, 64 were classified as confidential the lowest form of classification. The emails included some complaining about the appointments process, media coverage and the “2011 airstrike campaign against Libya,” and 2012 presidential campaign. The email batch would not be complete without emails from former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal.
A particular exchange with aide Jacob Sullivan is just as relevant then as now. The emailed revolved Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s ad attacking the Obama Administration on the 2012 Benghazi, Libya attacks. Sullivan wrote, “This is about Obama going on the View rather than meeting with world leaders. Clinton responded, “But the subtext is his absence or negligence re terrorism and leadership.”
Sullivan, however, pointed out, the “potential Republican narrative about how we knew in advance and were incompetent, whereas this goes to the broader issue of leadership in the war on terror.” Clinton answered with a comment that is just relevant in 2012 as 2016, “But we’ll likely see both attacks in debate, on the stump and in ads.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner spoke to the press before the release about meeting the court-ordered deadline. Toner said, “We take our obligations to the court very seriously and are making every effort to comply with this order.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded in a statement to the release. Priebus said, “Every court-ordered release of Hillary Clinton’s emails is yet another reminder of just how recklessly she handled classified material and jeopardized national security.”
Continuing, Priebus attacked, “With State Department and FBI investigations into her email in full swing, it’s no wonder Americans increasingly see her as too dishonest and untrustworthy to be president, and voters caucusing in Nevada this Saturday will have the opportunity to hold her accountable for her secrecy and poor judgment.”
This is the second email release this month. On Saturday, Feb. 13, the State Department released 551 emails equaling 1,012 pages. Of those emails, 84 were upgraded to “confidential,” with the big news three more emails were being retroactively classified as “secret,” one of the higher classified levels.
One of the emails showed just much Clinton blundered in the post. In the 2012 email “the Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, a major human rights organization recommend[ed] to Clinton that the U.S. establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria.” Current assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor Tom Malinowski believed the move would help the rebels. As ABC News, points out four years later Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad are still bombing rebels in Northern Syria.
Last month the State Department retroactively classified 22 of Clinton’s emails as “top-secret,” the “highest level” of classified. The Department insisted they had not initially classified as such when the emails were originally sent and received. At this time over 1,730 emails are classified at differing levels, the majority at the lowest level. So far the State Department released nearly 47,000 out of the 55,000 emails pages.
Federal Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District for the District of Columbia ordered the State Department on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, to release Clinton’s emails in fourth batches until the end of the month. According to the order, they are supposed to release email batches of the remaining 3,700 emails or 7,000 pages on Feb. 13, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and Feb. 29. Judge Contreras wrote in his decision, “The Court expects that Defendant will endeavor to avoid any additional delay.”
Each of the release dates, Feb. 19, 26, and 29 comes before a nominating contest for the presidential election. On Feb. 20, there are the Nevada caucuses. On Feb. 27, there is the South Carolina primary. The last email batch to be released comes a day before Super Tuesday when a dozen primaries are being held. Clinton is in a close race with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, especially in Nevada where they are virtually tied.
Since the end of May 2015, the State Department has been required because of a court order to release each month a batch of Clinton’s 30,000 emails with the original end date of Jan. 29. The order was a result of Vice News reporter Jason Leopold Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department aimed at compelling them to release all of Clinton’s emails. Now all the emails have to be released by Feb. 29.