A cache of 3,000 pages of emails released by the State Department revealed that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s off-the-books adviser Sidney Blumenthal was more deeply involved in crafting diplomacy at the agency than previously disclosed, while top White House officials knew early on that she was using a private email account to conduct business as secretary of state.
Perhaps most damaging for Mrs. Clinton, the State Department said two dozen of the emails included classified information — potentially undercutting the former first lady’s claims that she did not handle classified information on the secret account.
The revelations were unearthed as part of the first in a series of emails that the State Department has been forced to release under a federal court order.
The batch of emails provides a window into a variety of issues such as Mrs. Clinton’s showdown with a fax machine, calendar mishaps and concerns over whether the secretary had less access to the White House than one of her predecessors, Henry Kissinger.
The information dump also showed that Mr. Blumenthal’s exchanges with Mrs. Clinton went beyond well-noted memos about Libya, as he offered advice on her public addresses and the influence she could wield in European politics.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, said the emails show that Mr. Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton confidant who served as a hatchet man during her 2008 campaign against Mr. Obama, played a bigger role in her decision-making than she has suggested.
They pointed to various exchanges Mrs. Clinton had with Mr. Blumenthal, who encouraged the secretary of state to get behind former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s bid to become president of the European Union, and asked her to lobby German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his behalf.
“Jonathan Powell [Mr. Blair’s chief of staff] tells me that remarks about Tony would be appreciated but that what would really be significant will be your conversation with Merkel,” Mr. Blumenthal wrote Mrs. Clinton on Oct. 25, 2009.
In another, Mrs. Clinton emailed Mr. Blumental at 10:35 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2005, asking, “Are you still awake?”
“I will call if you are,” she said.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called the discoveries “troubling.”
“These emails however are just the tip of the iceberg and we will never get full disclosure until Hillary Clinton releases her secret server for an independent investigation,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement.
The emails have become the focal point of a Republican-led House special committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The Clinton campaign responded with a Web video Wednesday that used a montage of clips to show that seven previous investigations and 32 hearings failed to find a conspiracy involving Mrs. Clinton or other Obama administration officials covering up the circumstances surrounding the attack.
“The Benghazi Select Committee is spending $8,000 a day in taxpayer money to keep digging,” says on-screen text. “How long will Republicans keep spending tax dollars on this political charade?”
The State Department had planned a Jan. 15 release date for all 55,000 pages of emails that Mrs. Clinton turned over to the agency from her private account, but a federal judge in May ordered the agency to release them on a rolling basis every 30 days beginning June 30.
The State Department redacted 25 of the 3,000 pages released late Tuesday night because they contained classified information. On Wednesday, State spokesman John Kirby said the pages were deemed classified at the time of review and does not mean they needed to be classified at the time Mrs. Clinton handled or sent them.
“In the review process, it was deemed that some of the information, at least some of the information in that traffic, should be classified and so it was,” Mr. Kirby said. “That doesn’t mean that at the time it was sent it needed to have been classified.”
On the question of whether the State Department would try to determine that, he said, “I’m not aware of any investigative effort to affix blame for that.”
The release of the emails cast a pall over Mrs. Clinton’s celebration Wednesday of a quarterly fundraising effort that topped $45 million and set a record for the most money raised by any party’s presidential candidate in the first three months of a campaign.
The huge tally cemented Mrs. Clinton’s standing as the prohibitive favorite to be the party’s presidential nominee and showed grass-roots support for her candidacy with about 91 percent of her donors giving $100 or less.
But the convergence of the State Department release of the emails and the Federal Election Commission’s quarterly deadline for fundraising highlighted how the email controversy will dog Mrs. Clinton throughout the campaign, with a fresh batch of her emails released every 30 days.
Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used it as a chance to draw contrasts with Mrs. Clinton. The former Florida governor highlighted his transparency by releasing 33 years of tax records.
The emails, most from 2009, included exchanges with David Axelrod and Jacob Lew, former senior advisers to Mr. Obama, indicating that the White House may have had been aware that she was working off a private email address.
Mr. Axelrod tried to clear the air via Twitter on Wednesday, saying “As I said before, I knew HRC had private email.
“I did not know she used it exclusively or had her own server,” he said.
“In thinking about the Kissinger interview, the only issue I think that might be raised is that I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon everyday,” she wrote. “Of course, if I were dealing w that POTUS I’d probably camp in his office to prevent him from doing something problematic. Do you see this as a problem?”
Mrs. Clinton set up and used her own email server and account during her time at the State Department. As a result, her communications were not subjected to open records searches or congressional information requests as required by law.
Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland, Georgia Republican and member of the House special committee investigating the Benghazi attack, said Wednesday that there are still too many unknowns about Mrs. Clinton’s emails.
“We don’t know if Hillary Clinton has turned over all the email yet,” he said on Fox News. “It’s seen in the fact that there were 60 new emails that we got that we had not previously had. Fifteen of those had never been turned over by Mrs. Clinton to the State Department and then the State Department was holding 45 of them. Why didn’t we get those with the last tranche of emails that we got?”
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