State Department Disproves Hugh Hewitt's Claim That Hillary Clinton Broke A Law
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt dubiously claimed that a newly released email shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke a "statute [that] prohibits misuse of classified information" because she allegedly "directed [an aide] to alter and send [a document] over a non-secure system." Yet, according to a State Department review, officials "found no indication the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email."
Newly Released Email About Transmission Of Talking Points Raises GOP Claims Of Mishandling Classified Information
Clinton's Request For Alternative Delivery Of Talking Points Draws Republican Criticism Over Transmittal Of Classified Information. A January 8 report by NPR explained how a newly released email sent by former Secretary Clinton requesting an alternative means of receiving talking points because of problems with transmission by secure fax angered some Republicans:
One particular email drew scrutiny Friday -- a June 17, 2011, exchange between Clinton and adviser Jake Sullivan. In that email string, she tells Sullivan she did not receive the evening's talking points -- typically specifics used to speak to the press and for briefings.
"They say they've had issues sending secure fax. They're working on it," he writes to Clinton. She responds, "If they can't, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure."
Much of the email, including its subject line, were redacted, making it difficult to discern the topic and full context of the document.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement that the specific email "raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server." [NPR, 1/8/16]
Hugh Hewitt Claims Clinton's Email "Clearly [Shows] A Felony"
Hugh Hewitt On Clinton's Request: "It's Clearly A Felony And I Think She's Going To Be Indicted." On the January 10 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt complained that on Sunday morning political talk shows "no one brings up 18 USC 1924, a statute that former Secretary of State Clinton almost certainly broke," claiming the newly released email shows "she directed Jake Sullivan to alter and send over a non-secure system" classified information and concluding that "[i]t's clearly a felony":
HUGH HEWITT: This morning, on every national show, I'll bet you no one brings up 18 USC 1924, a statute that former Secretary of State Clinton almost certainly broke, as was released on Friday. I'll bet you it's not discussed anywhere, but that Donald Trump will discuss it, and when he does that--
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Can you explain what the statute is?
HEWITT: The statute prohibits the misuse of classified information, and she directed Jake Sullivan to alter and send over a non-secure system secure communications. It's clearly a felony and I think she's going to be indicted. Nevertheless, no one is going to talk about that and because Trump will, he scores. Not because of hatred, but because of candor. [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 1/10/16]
State Department Says Clinton's Requested Talking Points Were Transmitted By A Secure Method
Associated Press: State Department's "Records ... Turned Up A Secure Fax Transmission Shortly After Clinton's Email Exchange With Adviser Jake Sullivan." On January 9, the Associated Press reported that the State Department "checked its records and found no indication that the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email," and "instead turned up a secure fax transmission shortly after Clinton's email exchange":
The State Department provided more detail Saturday about a 2011 document at the center of Hillary Clinton's latest email controversy, as an official said the former secretary of state never received the paper by nonsecure fax. But many other questions remained unanswered.
Clinton, whose presidential campaign has been challenged by her use of a private email account while secretary of state, is facing questions anew after Friday's revelation that she asked an adviser to go around a secure fax system to transmit a set of "talking points" on an unspecified subject.
Clinton told the adviser to turn it "into nonpaper w/no identifying heading and send nonsecure." Republicans immediately pounced on the exchange and suggested it proved impropriety.
The State Department said Friday that no such document was sent by email.
And on Saturday, a State Department official who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the increasingly complicated review of Clinton's emails said the agency "checked its records and found no indication that the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email."
The official, who demanded anonymity, said records instead turned up a secure fax transmission shortly after Clinton's email exchange with adviser Jake Sullivan on June 17, 2011. The implication was that this was the same document. [Associated Press, 1/9/16]
Politico: "Officials See No Indication The Document Was Ever Sent To The Email Account Clinton Used." In a January 8 article, Politico cited State Department spokesman John Kirby stating that the State Department has "found no indication that the document was emailed to former Secretary Clinton":
The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton's homemade email ever put classified information at risk, and Republicans on the Hill have also been probing the matter. A key question they've asked is whether someone instructed aides to send classified information over unsecured accounts, which can be illegal.
The campaign in a statement Friday said Clinton would do no such thing.
"It is false that Hillary Clinton asked for classified material to be sent over a nonsecure system," said spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement.
And State Department spokesman John Kirby said officials see no indication the document was ever sent to the email account Clinton used, which was hosted on a private server.
"We did do some forensics on that and found no evidence it was actually emailed to her," Kirby said at a daily news briefing on Friday. "We have found no indication that the document was emailed to former Secretary Clinton. There are other ways it could have found its way to her for her use."
Kirby also said the fact that the talking points were initially set to be sent via a secure system did not necessarily mean they were classified.
"Just because something, a document, is on a classified system doesn't necessarily make the document, the content, necessarily classified," he added. He would not say if the document was classified. [Politico, 1/8/16]
Clinton Explains That Unclassified Information Within Classified Documents "Can Be Appropriately Transmitted Unclassified"
Clinton On Face The Nation: "Oftentimes There Is A Lot Of Information That Isn't At All Classified" Within Classified Documents That "Can Be Appropriately Transmitted Unclassified." On a January 10 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Hillary Clinton discussed the email in question and explained that "oftentimes there is a lot of information that isn't at all classified" in classified government documents, and that "whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was":
Hillary Clinton on Sunday defended instructing an aide to send information to her through a "nonsecure" channel, saying the data she requested was not classified and accusing her presidential rivals of seeking to score political points over a non-issue.
The State Department released more than 3,000 of Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of State on Friday. One of the emails has drawn scrutiny because in it, Clinton, who was awaiting a secure fax detailing talking points, instructed an adviser to turn the talking points into "nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure" because the fax wasn't coming through.
"This is another instance where what is common practice -- I need information, I had some points I had to make, and I was waiting for a secure fax that could give me the whole picture, but oftentimes there is a lot of information that isn't at all classified," Clinton said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "So whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was. That's true for every agency in the government and everybody that does business with the government."
The State Department release does not make clear what the contents of the email were or whether the information was classified. Clinton contends that she trusted Sullivan to respond appropriately. [The Hill, 1/10/16]