There was nothing to learn in the State Department’s latest email dump about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role before, during and after the terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. But the 3,000 pages of messages released late Tuesday offer a few tantalizing and amusing insights to Clinton’s early days as Secretary of State.
The fresh batch of Clinton’s official emails provided to a special House panel investigating the Benghazi incident focus on her first year in office, and they show a top cabinet member occasionally bewildered by the interaction with the White House or fearing that she had been left out of the loop.
“I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am,” she wrote on June 8, 2009. “Is there? Can I go?” As it turned out it wasn’t a cabinet meeting but one for lower level administration officials. But just four days later, she showed up for a 10:45 a.m. meeting at the White House, only to learn that it had been canceled.
“This is the second time this has happened,” she wrote huffily. “What’s up???”
The fresh cache of emails are part of more than 55,000 pages of Clinton’s official emails that have been promised to the House investigative committee but are still being reviewed by the State Department. State Department officials wanted to wait and submit the entire collection at one time, but a federal judge ruled that the department must release installments on a monthly basis.
Here are five other highlights of the latest batch of Clinton emails:
- Senior White House officials were well aware that Clinton used private, non-government email for her official communications but apparently did not object, according to NBC News. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel requested and received Clinton’s private email address in 2009, as did senior political adviser David Axelrod.
- Blumenthal played a far more important role in keeping Clinton up to speed on issues than she publicly acknowledged. The White House blocked her efforts to hire Blumenthal at State, according to Politico. However, the Clinton family foundation paid him $10,000 a month to serve as a consultant. Beyond his subsequent assistance to her when the Benghazi tragedy blew up, the new emails indicate he also acted as an intermediary with officials involved in the Northern Ireland peace process and monitored other international developments for her.
- Clinton was obsessed with her media coverage. “Did you see the photo in the NYPost of Bill and me from yesterday?” she wrote to her advisor, Huma Abedin, in August 2009. “It was after lunch but I didn’t see anybody w a camera so obviously a long lens from afar.” Or as the Los Angeles Times reported, she expresses concern about sitting for a joint interview with Henry Kissinger, which might raise unflattering comparisons about the two secretaries’ access to their presidents. “I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon everyday,” she wrote.
- Clinton helped friends on Wall Street when she could. That included helping one investment chief executive get a visa and fielding another corporate executive’s complaint about export control regulations that interfered with sales. And when Terrence Duffy, executive chairman of derivatives trader CME Group, asked her to stop by a Washington dinner he was hosting for “150 or so folks from the exchange,” Clinton asked an aide to try to find time for the group to visit the State Department, according to Bloomberg.
- Finally, while taking the helm of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, Clinton still fretted about retiring her $23 million campaign debt from her unsuccessful bid for the presidency. Clinton’s chief of protocol, Capricia Marshall, wrote to Paul Begala, a long-time Clinton family friend and Democratic strategist, to thank him for helping in raising $500,000 from an “email contest.” She said in April 2009 email, “You are all amazing,” adding that “You put a serious hole in HRC debt!”, according to The New York Times.
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