WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s request in 2011 that a document be emailed to her instead of sent by secure fax emerged as the latest political uproar over her private email account Friday, as a top Republican senator accused her of ordering classified information scrubbed. It wasn’t clear if any information in the document was classified to begin with.
The June 17, 2011, exchange focused on a set of “talking points” on an unspecified subject that Clinton had waited for since the previous evening. After senior adviser Jake Sullivan emailed her about “issues sending secure fax,” Clinton suggested he turn it “into nonpaper w/no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Nonpaper refers to an informal document, without official markings like letterhead or logos, not saved for records.
Although the State Department said a review showed the document never was sent to Clinton by email, and instead apparently by secure fax, after all, Republicans quickly jumped on the passage.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, called it a “disturbing email” that appears to show Clinton instructing an aide “to remove the headings from a classified document and send it to her in an unsecure manner.” Clinton, he said, “needs to finally come clean and be transparent about the email practices she used during her tenure at the department.”
It was not clear whether the document was actually classified or contained classified information. A Grassley spokeswoman only pointed to the mention of the secure fax as evidence the material would have been classified.
State Department spokesman John Kirby rejected that reasoning. He said many documents are created, stored or edited on secure systems even if they’re not classified.
Kirby, however, didn’t describe the substance of the document in question or say if the original version would have contained any classified material.
The Clinton campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The exchange was part of the 3,000 pages of emails released in the early morning hours on Friday, a week after the court-ordered goal.
Sixty-five messages contained information deemed “confidential,” the lowest classification. One document contained information determined to now be “secret.” None of these were identified as such at the time they were sent.
In one email chain, Sullivan sent Clinton a memo from a State Department staffer with his thoughts on Libya policy that Sullivan found impressive. Clinton didn’t recognize the staffer’s name and asked where he worked. When Sullivan said he worked for the State Department, Clinton wrote, “I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State.”
Clinton herself raised concerns about the spillage of closely held information in another message to her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.
Commenting in a June 2012 email on two news stories that contained inside information about the Obama administration’s drone strikes and cyber-war policies, Clinton asked Mills whether she should send out a cable warning State Department officials against disseminating classified information.
“I think it is both dishonorable and dangerous and want to find a way to say it,” Clinton said.
Other emails illustrate the complicated relationship between Clinton and President Barack Obama, the man she now hopes to replace.
In September 2010, Clinton’s aide Philippe Reines discusses the furor over a proposed mosque near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York, calling the issue a “real problem” for the White House and advising Clinton to stay clear of the topic.
“You’ll be kicking the president when he’s down. Waay down,” Reines writes. “There will be a day you need to publicly disagree with him, but that day is not Wed, Sep 8, 2010 and that issue is not the mosque.”