‘Sorry’ for confusion: Hillary Clinton Emails
Published: September 5, 2015
‘Sorry’ for confusion: Hillary Clinton Emails, Hillary Clinton chose a former campaign staffer who followed her to the State Department to make the initial determination about which of her emails should be preserved as federal records, according to closed-door testimony by Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, a GOP source told POLITICO.
Heather Samuelson, a lawyer and 2008 Clinton campaign staffer, worked under Mills and Clinton’s attorney David Kendall to sift through her ex-boss’ messages. She helped separate those that were purely personal, which were not turned over to the State Department, from those that were work-related.
The news that another Clinton loyalist – who, according to the GOP source, had no background in federal records keeping – helped make those determinations raised concerns among conservatives. Republicans had wanted an independent watchdog to do the job of separating the emails.
Samuelson, 34, could not be reached for comment, and Kendall, Mills’ attorney, and the Clinton campaign did not respond to inquiries about who represents Samuelson or whether she has an attorney. They declined comment, as did spokespeople for the House Benghazi Republicans and Democrats.
But Clinton-related sources said that Kendall and Mills, not Samuelson, ultimately made the determinations about which emails should be preserved before Clinton decided to delete the rest.
In recent weeks, the Benghazi committee has been trying to retrace the steps of the email production process after finding 15 undisclosed Clinton emails in a subpoenaed batch they received from her longtime ally Sid Blumenthal in late June. Those were work-related and should have been turned over in Clinton’s original December 2014 production, Republicans argue. They are concerned that more may have been kept from the public.
On Thursday, Mills testified that employees for Denver-based IT firm Platte River Networks – which housed Clinton’s server until the FBI took hold of it – initially pulled emails off the server and sent them to Clinton’s legal team. Samuelson did the initial sift through of the documents, pulling ones she thought were federal records. In that regard, she initially determined which should be preserved – though Kendall and Mills ultimately signed off on what Clinton sent State.
Clinton deleted the rest of her emails from her computer, wiping it clean.
It is unclear if Samuelson had a security clearance and if Kendall and Mills simply approved her recommendations, made adjustments or looked through the emails she did not pull to ensure she didn’t miss any important documents.
According to her Linked-In profile, Samuelson, who received her law degree from American University, began working for Clinton in the fall of 2002 as the assistant treasurer for her political action committee, Hill PAC, and as deputy director of compliance for Friends of Hillary.
She stayed there four years before joining Hillary Clinton for President in January 2007. For nine months she worked on compliance issues before serving as director of vetting in the campaign’s counsel’s office.
When Clinton moved to State, so did she, working for four years as senior advisor and White House liaison at the State Department from January 2009 to March 2013.
She then served as assistant counsel at the White House from then until April of 2014.
It is unlcear where she is now, but a Maryland State Bar Association listing shows her address is now in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is also where Hillary for America is headquartered.
Clinton turned over 35,000 emails to the State Department 22 months after she left. State had asked her to do so since she’d used her own personal server and email rather than an official State.gov account, circumventing requirements that Uncle Sam maintain copies of her work communications.
Since Clinton used one email, her official documents were intermixed with personal messages, too. Regulations state, however, that any email that is personal in nature would still have to be considered an official record if any work item is mentioned – even if it’s just one single sentence.
Clinton’s camp has said – and Mills testified Thursday – that they were over-inclusive in what they classified as an official document. And State has had to return some messages they say are not official.
Clinton’s camp also maintains there was nothing wrong with the process they chose to produce her records.
Federal employees under current rules decide what emails they believe are federal records and should therefore be preserved on government systems – so in that regard, there is no rule requiring Clinton to have an independent source sort out which of her documents were personal and which were public records.
Jason R. Baron of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, formerly the director of litigation for the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, confirmed as much: “It is each official’s responsibility to call the balls and strikes That is, the current statute allows both high level officials and all agency employees to make their own choices as to what is to be copied or forwarded to an official system.”
But Baron also noted that NARA regulations require the preservation of documents or communications that have even the slightest bit of work-related information in them. And right now there’s no way to certify that with an independent source.
Some conservatives argue that the self-selection process for filing such documents, used by current employees, is totally different than for someone who left State almost two years prior – and exclusively used their own personal email system.
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