Email records that Hillary Rodham Clinton apparently failed to turn over to the State Department show that she repeatedly encouraged longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal to “keep ’em coming,” as she said in an August 2012 reply to a memo from him.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters last month that the memos about Libya she received while secretary of state from Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser whom the Obama administration had barred her from hiring, had been “unsolicited.”
But email records that Clinton, according to officials briefed on the matter, apparently failed to turn over to the State Department last fall show that she repeatedly had encouraged Blumenthal to “keep ’em coming,” as she said in an August 2012 reply to a memorandum from him, which she called “another keeper.”
All or part of 15 Libya-related emails she sent to Blumenthal were missing from the trove of 30,000 Clinton provided to the State Department last year, as well as from the 847 the department in turn provided in February to the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The emails were reviewed by a reporter.
The department had asked Clinton last year for copies of all of the work-related emails she sent or received on the personal email account she exclusively used when she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
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(She has said she wiped the server clean thereafter, deleting the emails she had not turned over to the department, which she said were personal.)
In sifting through and producing a large number of emails, it stands to reason some would be missed.
But the fact that some of the missing emails contained expressions of gratitude and encouragement to Blumenthal is being seized on by Republicans, who plan to use the apparent contradiction, and the missing emails, to raise new questions about Clinton’s credibility.
The missing email records — nine complete messages and parts of six others — were discovered after Blumenthal turned over to the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks his own batch of Libya-related email correspondence with Clinton.
Angered that the State Department had not already provided it with some of those emails, the committee asked the department if it had received them from Clinton. The department determined it had not received all or part of 15 emails.
On Thursday, the State Department acknowledged the missing correspondence, but it did not specifically say which parts of those emails were missing.
According to officials briefed on the matter, among the emails the State Department could not find were those in which Clinton encouraged Blumenthal to keep sending memos or in which she asked additional questions about their contents.
In response to an intelligence memo Blumenthal sent Clinton in July 2012, she said: “Greetings from Kabul! And thanks for keeping this stuff coming!”
And, responding to a March 2012 memo, she wrote: “This strains credulity based on what I know. Any more info about it?”
Blumenthal replied, “Will seek more intel.”
A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, said, “The idea that this runs counter to the assertion that the emails were unsolicited is a leap.”
“Mr. Blumenthal began emailing of his own accord,” Merrill said. “Polite acknowledgments are not tantamount to solicitation. And I think that any reasonable person who has ever had an email exchange would agree.”
Clinton, who is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has maintained that she properly complied with the State Department’s request and with federal record-keeping regulations.
The State Department has provided the House committee in recent days with at least 10 pages of emails between Clinton and Blumenthal that it had not turned over in February.
These appear to show that Clinton and her advisers took the memos and other advice from Blumenthal fairly seriously.