The Clinton Email Scandal is Not Just a “Bureaucratic Tangle”

Last week, in the face of mounting criticism over her use of a homebrew email, which she used to receive and send classified information, Clinton promised to be more transparent.

“I think that it is a little confusing, and I certainly understand why, for the press and for the public to try to make sense of this, like something wasn’t classified in 2009, 2010, but maybe now it should,” Clinton told reporters gathered at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting.

“And I’m trying to do a better job of explaining to people what’s going on so that there’s not all of this, you know, concern and there some sense made out of the confusion.

But, Clinton nevertheless remained absolute in her belief that she didn’t transmit classified information.

“I have said repeatedly that I did not send nor receive classified material, and I’m very confident that when this entire process plays out that will be understood by everyone,” Clinton told reporters.

Except she did. Over the last month there has been a steady drip of information showing that Clinton clearly received classified information on her private email server. But until now, no Clinton-authored email had popped up. As Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind Helderman report, all that changed earlier this week:

Although government officials deemed the e-mails classified after Clinton left office, they could complicate her efforts to move beyond the political fallout from the controversy. They suggest that her role in distributing sensitive material via her private e-mail system went beyond receiving notes written by others, and appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information.

The classified e-mails, contained in thousands of pages of electronic correspondence that the State Department has released, stood out because of the heavy markings blocking out sentences and, in some cases, entire messages.

The extent of the redactions in e-mails sent by Clinton and others, including ambassadors and career Foreign Service officers, points to a broader pattern that has alarmed intelligence officials in which sensitive information has been circulated on non-secure systems. Another worry is that Clinton aides further spread sensitive information by forwarding government e-mails to Clinton’s private account.

Perhaps most troublingly, at least one of the emails was sent to Sidney Blumenthal, who didn’t work for the State Department, or any other government agency, but instead was an employee at the Clinton Foundation. The majority of the email was redacted because federal authorities deemed it to contain information “which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to national security.”

Clinton’s campaign team is nonetheless trying to make this all seem like some complicated misunderstanding.

“What’s going on here is something that happens all the time: you have a bureaucratic tangle over what counts as classified and what doesn’t,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in a video released Friday.

But under federal law information is classified based on content, not because it carries a special marking, which means that much of what Clinton received and wrote was classified from the date it originated. Moreover, as Sean Davis, explains in the Federalist, “the nature of Hillary’s secret, off-books private e-mail scheme made it impossible for government authorities to mark as classified any information that originated or Hillary’s private server, since they had no access to it.”

In other words, Clinton is trying to blame classification authorities for not immediately classifying information that they didn’t know existed.

No wonder Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable rating has plummeted by 15 points over the last six weeks. And until she actually levels with Americans and stops trying to feed them nonsense, she can expect the freefall to continue.