New Hillary Clinton e-mails released late Tuesday night by the State Department reveal that, despite denials to the contrary, top Obama-administration officials were aware, within the first nine months of President Obama’s first term, of then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server to conduct government business.
The White House has not said when President Obama and his lieutenants first learned of Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, noting only that they became aware in August 2014, after Republican lawmakers got hold of the information, that it could become a political problem.
But e-mails from 2009 show that chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod understood at the time that Clinton used a private e-mail account and server for official business. Indeed, top officials were forced to explicitly ask Clinton aides for her e-mail address.
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“Axelrod wants your emails,” read the subject line of an e-mail from Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills on June 8, 2009.
Clinton replied from her e-mail account HDR22@clintonemail.com. “Can you send it to him or do you want me to?” she asked. “Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours.”
But, despite this 2009 e-mail, Axelrod told MSNBC host Mike Brzezinski on June 17 this year that he was unaware Clinton was using a private e-mail address and server in a government capacity. “I was there, I was the senior adviser. I didn’t know that,” he said. “I might’ve asked a few questions about that.”
A top Emanuel aide also asked Clinton’s team for her private e-mail account on September 5, 2009. “The Secretary and Rahm are speaking, and she just asked him to email her,” wrote Emanuel’s assistant. “Can you send me her address please?” Mills deferred to Clinton. “Do you want him to have your email?” she asked. Clinton agreed, replying from a different private account, email@example.com.
Future Obama counsel John Podesta was also aware of Hillary’s private e-mail server. “Tried you a couple days ago, but email bounced back,” he wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org on June 25, 2009. “Neera [Tanden, president of Center for American Progress] says this is the right one. How are you doing?” Podesta was not in the White House when the e-mail was sent, so it is unclear whether he understood that Clinton’s account was being used for official purposes.
— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review Online.