Hillary Clinton is again under fire for being less than forthright in her description of her relationship with controversial unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal, after the State Department made public on Tuesday the first batch in a planned series of email releases from her time as secretary of state.
The emails show a closer relationship between Clinton and Blumenthal than she had previously acknowledged. The While House all but banned Blumenthal, who served as senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton for four years, from being part of Hillary Clinton’s State Department staff, Politico reports. Yet the emails show that Clinton paid special interest to Blumenthal’s policy advice and sought to hire him despite the Obama administration’s disapproval. The exchanges reveal Blumenthal’s close advisory role on everything from British politics to global climate change talks to elections in the Middle East, and they contradict earlier claims by Clinton that his advice was “unsolicited.”
The emails show the opposite: Clinton was in regular contact with Blumenthal and often sought him out specifically. Late on Oct. 8, 2009, Clinton sent him an email that read, “Are you still awake? I will call if you are,” without providing more details. The emails also reveal Blumenthal’s influence in affairs related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks—a more expanded influence than what was revealed from a special release of Clinton’s Benghazi-specific emails in May.
The Benghazi emails have taken on special significance because Blumenthal reportedly had business interests related to regime change in Libya. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the email revelations “troubling” and specifically attacked Clinton for her relationship with Blumenthal.
The emails released Tuesday, which were sent and received from March 2009 to December 2009, generally show frequent communication between Clinton and her tight-knit circle of aides and advisers. Other highlights from the batch include Clinton’s struggle with a fax machine, bad puns (on April 3, Clinton sent an email about President Obama’s upcoming trip to Turkey with the subject line “Fried Turkey”), and a comment about Fox News needing “at least one sane realistic voice.” The emails also show anxieties within Clinton’s inner circle about her new role in the Obama administration: Clinton grumbled to aides about showing up multiple times for national security meetings in the White House without being told of their cancelation, and also noted on a separate occasion that she learned of an ongoing Cabinet meeting by hearing about it “on the radio.”
After it came to light earlier this year that Clinton had violated federal rules by using a personal email account to conduct government business from 2009 to 2013, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the State Department to publish the former secretary of state’s emails in batches every 30 days. The first block of emails—which total 3,000 pages and make up not even a tenth of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over at the government’s request in December—is entirely available to read on the agency’s website.
Tuesday’s email release will be followed with seven more batches in the coming months. A small number of the newly released emails were withheld for containing classified information. According to Politico, State Department officials claim that the agency’s 9 p.m. release of the emails was caused by the complexity of organizing such a large volume of records, not by an interest in subduing press coverage.