The Republican National Committee (RNC) provided a few documents to The Wall Street Journal that shows the White House worked with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign over her private email server when she served as secretary of state:
Their discussion included a request from the White House communications director to her counterpart at the State Department to see if it was possible to arrange for Secretary of State John Kerry to avoid questions during media appearances about Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement.
In another instance, a top State Department official assured an attorney for Mrs. Clinton that, contrary to media reports, a department official hadn’t told Congress that Mrs. Clinton erred in using a private email account.
In March 2015, The New York Times reported that Hillary used a private email server, which led to an investigation by the FBI. Emails have shown Clinton Foundation donors asking for special favors and mishandling of classified documents. The FBI decided that the DOJ should not bring charges against her even though she and her staff were very careless with the sensitive material.
Now, Hillary hadn’t announced her intention to run in March, but she already hired some staff. But that didn’t stop the White House and State Department from coordinating moves:
Ten days after the story broke, White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri emailed State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki to ask, “between us on the shows…think we can get this done so he is not asked about email.” That apparently referred to Mr. Kerry, who appeared in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” three days later.
Ms. Palmieri had previously announced she would be leaving the administration to join Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in mid-2015, but was still at the White House when she sent the email. Other emails show Ms. Palmieri helped arrange for Ms. Psaki to move from the State Department to the White House communications job Ms. Palmieri was vacating. “Agree completely and working to crush on my end,” wrote back Ms. Psaki, who would move to the White House weeks later.
A day later, Ms. Psaki added, “Good to go on killing CBS idea.” She continued, “And we are going to hold on any other TV options just given the swirl of crap out there.” Mr. Kerry wasn’t asked on CBS about the email server, though it isn’t clear how Ms. Psaki could have guaranteed that.
However, CBS spokeswoman said the network did not make any agreements over questions Kerry would face:
“No subject was off-limits when this interview was arranged, as is the CBS News standard,” she said. “CBS News’ State Department correspondent was in Egypt with Secretary John Kerry in the home stretch of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations and discussed policy issues of the day with him on this official trip.”
Documents also showed that other White House communications officials chatting about Kerry’s appearance. One official told WSJ they debated whether he “should appear on the shows at all rather than any attempt to influence what questions were asked.”
In an email exchange, Patrick Kennedy, the State Department undersecretary for management, told Heather Samuelson, one of Hillary’s attorneys and one who reviewed Hillary’s emails, that a report in Politico was “running [a] story that State official said Secretary Clinton did wrong thing. Wildly inaccurate reporting.” Politico denied it put false details in the report:
A Politico spokesman said the organization stood by its reporting. The story reported that Joyce Barr, assistant secretary of state for administration, had said in testimony to Congress that Mrs. Clinton’s record-keeping practices were “not acceptable.” An internal watchdog report later concluded that Mrs. Clinton’s email use wasn’t permitted under State policy.
Mr. Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said Mr. Kennedy was “simply offering a reaction to a press article.” He added it wasn’t unusual for State officials to be in contact with former secretaries or their staff.
The RNC gained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for records during Hillary’s tenure. It only gave WSJ the communications between the White House and State Department so the publication does not what the remaining documents contain.
Melissa McGehee of Issue One, a nonpartisan advocacy group, told the WSJ “that the email exchange would probably raise no legal concerns because federal law permits members of the White House staff to engage in some political activity.”DONATE
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