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State Releases Another Trove of Hillary Clinton Emails

The sixth such release, of more than 7,000 pages, includes references to Lady Gaga, Ben Affleck, monkey butts, and emojis.

The State De­part­ment re­leased more than 7,000 pages of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, a move that will provide more in­sight in­to Clin­ton’s four-year ten­ure as sec­ret­ary of State but is un­likely to in­clude any bomb­shells.

The new trove of emails—the sixth such re­lease from State—came largely from mes­sages that Clin­ton sent or re­ceived in 2011 and 2012, the State De­part­ment said.

Clin­ton turned over more than 55,000 pages of emails to the State De­part­ment at the end of last year. Her use of a private email ad­dress, hos­ted on a serv­er at the Clin­tons’ Chap­paqua, New York home, has made head­lines since it was first re­vealed in a New York Times story this spring.

But un­like past monthly re­leases, Clin­ton is in a far dif­fer­ent po­s­i­tion today than she was even a month ago. Com­ments from House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy at the end of Septem­ber about how the Benghazi Se­lect Com­mit­tee had helped bring down Clin­ton’s poll num­bers al­lowed her cam­paign to suc­cess­fully ar­gue that Re­pub­lic­ans were politi­ciz­ing the Benghazi at­tacks—and her email use—as a way to sab­ot­age her can­did­acy. Last week, Clin­ton ap­peared be­fore the com­mit­tee for 11 hours of testi­mony on what happened sur­round­ing the 2012 at­tacks, in­clud­ing a great deal of fo­cus on her email ac­count.

The staggered re­lease of all Clin­ton’s emails—com­ing in batches at the end of each month through Janu­ary—had con­trib­uted to the con­tin­ued head­lines over her email use, a dy­nam­ic that was bring­ing down Clin­ton’s poll num­bers and con­trib­ut­ing to drop­ping fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings.

Past re­leases have giv­en some in­sight in­to Clin­ton’s tem­pera­ment at State and the way the de­part­ment func­tioned, but turned up al­most no con­tro­ver­sial or sub­stant­ively new in­form­a­tion.

The latest emails do provide glimpses of the in­tern­al dis­cus­sion of the pro­posed Key­stone XL oil-sands pipeline, a pro­ject that Clin­ton said in 2010 she was “in­clined” to ap­prove but now op­poses.

In one Feb. 9, 2012 mes­sage, Mi­chael Ham­mer, then a pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cial, emailed a suite of seni­or aides with press cov­er­age of a State De­part­ment in­spect­or gen­er­al re­port that did not sub­stan­ti­ate charges of con­flicts of in­terest in the de­part­ment’s re­view. The mes­sage says, “over­all a good day,” as of 8 p.m. Cheryl Mills, who was Clin­ton’s chief of staff, for­war­ded the mes­sage to her.

A sep­ar­ate mes­sage earli­er in the day from Ham­mer to Mills and oth­ers calls the press stor­ies “real sol­id.” But it notes the por­tray­al of the re­port—which called for im­prove­ments to State’s re­view pro­ced­ures—by Demo­crat­ic law­makers op­posed to the pipeline. It was also for­war­ded to Clin­ton.

Vari­ous oth­er mes­sages for­war­ded to Clin­ton by top aides con­tain press cov­er­age of events in the years-long Key­stone saga, some with notes about the stor­ies.

There are a few emails the White House doesn’t want re­port­ers and op­pos­i­tion re­search­ers scour­ing Clin­ton’s cor­res­pond­ence to see, ac­cord­ing to a re­port Fri­day in The New York Times. But that’s not, of­fi­cials say, be­cause they’re wor­ried about the emails’ con­tent: Rather, they’re try­ing to pre­vent a “hand­ful” of notes between Pres­id­ent Obama and Clin­ton from be­ing re­leased based on “long­stand­ing pre­ced­ent in­voked by pres­id­ents of both parties to keep pres­id­en­tial com­mu­nic­a­tions con­fid­en­tial” while they’re still in of­fice. White House of­fi­cials moved to stop the emails’ re­lease after the State De­part­ment found and for­war­ded them.

Else­where, one email mak­ing the rounds Fri­day af­ter­noon has this col­or­ful sub­ject line: “AXEL­ROD AND THE MON­KEY BUTT.”

It’s a Dec. 14, 2011 mes­sage to Clin­ton from long­time ally Sid­ney Blu­menth­al, and it finds Blu­menth­al com­plain­ing about the reelec­tion-cam­paign strategy of Obama’s polit­ic­al team, spe­cific­ally top ad­viser Dav­id Axel­rod.

Blu­menth­al, writ­ing in all cap­it­al let­ters, com­plains that Axel­rod had at­tacked former House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich (then a White House can­did­ate) in the press, ar­guing in­stead that Obama’s team should talk up the strength of Gin­grich’s can­did­acy as a way to hurt Mitt Rom­ney.

Blu­menth­al flags these com­ments by Axel­rod to re­port­ers, via ABC News: “Axel­rod said the former House speak­er’s climb to the top of the pack will fur­ther ex­pose his least flat­ter­ing per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al qual­it­ies. ‘Just re­mem­ber, the high­er a mon­key climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt,’ Axel­rod said, cit­ing a piece of polit­ic­al wis­dom he said he learned from a Chica­go al­der­man.”

Blu­menth­al calls it “polit­ic­al mal­prac­tice” and adds that Obama’s team in­stead should aim to “lift Newt, un­der­mine Rom­ney, any­thing to pre­vent his nom­in­a­tion, cre­ate wedges with­in GOP primary.” It adds: “Why is the Obama team help­ing Rom­ney try to bring down Newt!?!?!”

Clin­ton replied three days later with this: “Who knows????”

Oth­er emails show Clin­ton’s cor­res­pond­ence—or planned cor­res­pond­ence—with some high-pro­file celebrit­ies.

One Au­gust 2011 mes­sage among aides that Mills for­war­ded to Clin­ton was about sing­er Lady Gaga com­ing to Clin­ton’s de­fense against cri­ti­cism of her ward­robe. “You know, I think Hil­lary Clin­ton has more things to worry about than her hem­line,” Gaga said on the TV talk show The View.

A few days later, Clin­ton for­war­ded the note to sev­er­al aides and asked: “Can you get an ad­dress for her so I can write a note?”

An­oth­er bit of cor­res­pond­ence shows Clin­ton in con­tact with Ben Af­fleck, oft-present in Wash­ing­ton be­cause of his ad­vocacy work, who ac­tu­ally had her dir­ect email ad­dress.

In April 2012, the Bat­man emailed Clin­ton an ad­vance copy of a re­port from his East­ern Congo Ini­ti­at­ive, which—among oth­er goals—seeks to “drive policy change that in­creases United States gov­ern­ment en­gage­ment in Congo.” Sub­sequent mes­sages between Clin­ton and her aides—touched off by a re­quest from Clin­ton, who said she’d “like to re­spond to Ben Af­fleck”—show them dis­cuss­ing a draft of her reply. But alas, the draft it­self is re­dac­ted.

An­oth­er ex­change is re­min­is­cent of pre­vi­ously re­leased mes­sages in which Clin­ton grapples with vari­ous as­pects of State tech­no­logy. In it, Clin­ton seeks to learn how to use emo­jis on her Black­berry. “Here’s my ques­tion: on this new berry can I get smi­ley faces?” she asks aide Phil­ippe Reines.

“For email, no, I don’t think so—you need to type them out manu­ally,” he wrote back. “For text mes­saging, the chart might be there in the lower right, next to where you type the mes­sage.”

(Image via a katz / Shutterstock.com )