After being grilled for 11 hours by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, there are still unanswered questions about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. According to a Wall Street Journal report published on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 Clinton’s lawyer announced that there was no way to retrieve the emails from the server sent from January through early March 2009, the first two months of Clinton’s tenure in the State Department. Although her testimony at the Benghazi committee did not elicit new information, it is believed that Clinton might still be hiding something in the emails that erased on her private server.
Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall sent a letter to the State Department this past month that the emails from January to until March 17, 2009 were irretrievable from Clinton’s private server. In the letter, Kendall wrote, “She does not have custody of emails sent or received in the first few weeks of her tenure, as she was in transition to a new address, and we have been unable to obtain these.” Kendall said if any emails are ever discovered or retrieved they would be handed over to the State Department. Kendall wrote, “In the event we do, we will immediately provide the Department with federal record-emails in this collection.”
The emails from that early period of Clinton’s tenure became an issue after the State Department discovered a chain of emails she previously failed to disclose. Clinton exchanged the emails with retired Gen. David Petraeus. The emails began just before Clinton became Secretary of State in January 2009 and continued through February 2009 after she was already assumed her cabinet post. Those emails indicated that Clinton lied about when she started to use her private server and held back on these emails.
The 30,000 plus emails on 50,000 pages Clinton handed over to the State Department started on March 18, 2009. As The Hill explains, during the early weeks Secretary of State Clinton claimed to have used an “AT&T BlackBerry and a personal domain email account run off an unknown server.” In August, Clinton gave a “sworn statement to a US District Court,” where she declared that she had handed over all the work related emails in her possession to the State Department.
The media’s consensus is that Clinton fared well during her testimony; she remained calm putting on the performance of a lifetime that helped bolster her presidential campaign. Clinton did not get upset as she had in previous testimonies before Congressional committees on the matter. Although she remained consistent in her responses, Clinton’s emails or possible missing emails leave many questions unanswered. Republicans and the committee have justified their probe into her private server because they claimed she endangered national security with using the private server. The release of Clinton emails each month prove she did send classified information through the server, although Clinton insists the emails were not considered classified at the time.
Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy waited to nearly the very end of Clinton’s testimony to ask her about her private email server in order to deflect criticism about the political nature of their probe. Politico believes that Clinton’s “most perplexing answer” was about the number of emails on the State Department server before she handed them over from her personal email server in December 2014. Clinton said, “I believed the vast majority of the emails were in their system … 90 [percent] to 95 percent were already there.” The response was contradictory to State Department regulations, and that Clinton’s “emails were not automatically archived during [her] tenure.”
Earlier in her testimony, the GOP committee members asked Clinton indirect questions relating to her personal email server, and more related to the Benghazi terror attacks. Including Sidney Blumenthal’s unofficial adviser capacity, why Ambassador Christopher Stevens did not have her email address to contact her, and why there were so few emails related to Libya. According to Breibart News Clinton “insisted” she had been “transparent about her emails” in her testimony.
There was disparities in the number of emails Clinton sent about Libya in 2011 and 2012 before the attack. Clinton argued that there was no coincidence, but during that period she used paper based documents other means of correspondence, not just her email, and that she had not been hiding deleted emails. Clinton had the preponderance to even claim she did not have a computer in her State Department office. Breibart News however, pointed out had Clinton used a State Department email account, it could have been checked with absolution.
At the end of Clinton’s testimony in asking about her email server, Gowdy questioned if all her emails hand been given to the state Department, how she was certain given the discovery of the Petraeus chain. Gowdy asked about Clinton’s staff including former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills reviewing her emails deleting all those deemed personal to which the former Secretary of State responded “I did not look over their shoulders because I thought it was be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.” Gowdy asked, “Was it a mistake for the four years that you had that email arrangement? Was it a mistake for four years that you kept the public record to yourself, or has it manifest itself as a mistake in the last six months?”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Clinton he believes she is still hiding something and there are more emails she did not handover. Jordan stated, “We believe the record might be incomplete, in part, because your version of events surrounding your email situation keeps changing. We want the record so we can get to the truth. It seems like there’s a pattern. a pattern of changing your story.” After Clinton’s well executed testimony, the question the American public has to ask is Clinton being honest about Benghazi or her emails or was her testimony the best Clinton style performance of a lifetime to safe their political future, most importantly is Clinton still hiding something behind the façade.