A Line Edit Of Hillary Clinton’s Disastrous Email Press Conference
Mollie Hemingway

CLINTON: There are four things I want the public to know.

First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account [Technically you registered the domain for this personal email account on the first day of your confirmation hearings, right?  That’s what the Washington Post reported. Maybe add a note explaining you set this email up only days before you started your government job. Also, you were unable to set up two email accounts on the same phone, but installed a remotely accessible server because it was more convenient? You’re going to need to explain that better.], which was allowed by the State Department [No it wasn’t. And are you appealing to the State department, which later made quite clear its opposition to your practice, to avoid acknowledging that it conflicted at the time with specific guidance from the Obama administration and Federal record-keeping laws?], because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two [Last week you told a crowd in Santa Clara — on video — that you carried both an iPhone and a Blackberry. Please clarify.].

Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.

Second, the vast majority [Define “vast majority” and please characterize the exceptions specifically] of my work emails [Define “work emails,” what standard you used in making that determination, and, most importantly, what outside, disinterested parties, if any, oversaw the process. Quick clarification: Would emails from foreign governments regarding Clinton foundation donations be considered work or personal?] went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department. [Are you suggesting journalists and oversight committees investigating your work file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for literally every government employee employed during your tenure if they seek information about your email correspondence? Further we already know your most trusted work colleague exclusively used a non-governmental address you provided from your private server. Can you identify how many of your senior advisors communicated with you exclusively via your private email system?]

Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related [Analysts suggest that a thorough review and division of your work and alleged private email would take months if not years. How were you able to respond so quickly?], which totalled roughly 55,000 printed pages [Are you saying you literally printed out pages thereby making them exceedingly difficult and time-consuming to search?], even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them [again, are you literally saying they “had” them in the sense that your emails occasionally went to people with State emails?]. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work- related emails and deliver them to the State Department [Who is ‘we’? Your campaign staff? Did you seek any outside counsel?]. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails [Wait. I’m sorry. Are you saying that we have to trust you made the proper division and, further, that you destroyed evidence that could be used to corroborate your otherwise unsubstantiated claims? You may want to clarify if not.] — emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements [This sounds like a calculated bid for sympathy. Too much. Your mother’s funeral? Also, if you really had emails about your only daughter’s wedding and your mother’s funeral, why on earth would you delete them?], condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.

No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy. [Sounds a bit too much like you’re trying to play the victim card here. Way too early for that, particularly as questions remain unanswered.]

Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see. [Correct me if I’m wrong but the only source we have to check whether you did, in fact, turn over all your work-related emails is your word, right? And we have no way to check now because you destroyed any evidence that could corroborate your story? Anything I’m missing?]

I am very proud of the work that I and my colleagues and our public servants at the department did during my four years as secretary of state, and I look forward to people being able to see that for themselves.

Again, looking back, it would’ve been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts. I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way. [I think you’ve put this one to bed. Who could dispute that it’s easier to build and house a server that you later wipe than follow department procedure?]

Now I’m happy to take a few questions.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, can you…

CLINTON: Just a minute. Nick (ph) is calling on people.


Madam Secretary, Kahraman Haliscelik with Turkish Television. On behalf of the U.N. Correspondence Association, thank you very much for your remarks, and it’s wonderful to see you here again.

Madam Secretary, why did you opt out not using two devices at the time? Obviously, if this didn’t come out, you wouldn’t — probably wouldn’t become an issue.

QUESTION: And my — my second follow-up question is, if you were a man today, would all this fuss being made be made? [Is this question another donation from a foreign source to the Clinton Foundation? I kid, I kid. But whoever planted this question doesn’t know how to plant questions effectively. For one thing, he asks something that was answered already about two devices. And even if it hadn’t been answered, it’s just a ridiculous question that sounds like it was written by a child. For the second thing, his follow-up question was about you being a woman. This is like a parody of what people think the mainstream media do for your benefit. You want to make questions seem like they come from a real journalist even if you’ve choreographed everything. Work on finding a sympathetic journalist who can at least pretend to be hitting you hard. Again, I know it’s in the Clinton playbook to go straight to woe-is-me victimization but you can’t do that at this stage of the investigation. Put that “I’m special because I have a vagina” card away for another year or so.]

Thank you.

CLINTON: Well, I will — I will leave that to others to answer.

But as I — as I said, I saw it as a matter of convenience, and it was allowed. [Reminder: this won’t pass the smell test and contradicts what others have said.] Others had done it. [Are you claiming that “others” exclusively relied on private email accounts to skirt record-keeping laws? Or just that they skirted record-keeping laws by also doing business on private email? If the latter, did they also destroy emails before outsiders could look through them? Also, these 12 sitting Cabinet members say they don’t do it, FYI.] According to the State Department, which recently said Secretary Kerry was the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov e-mail account. [Primarily. Exclusively. Learn the distinction. Also, Condoleezza Rice said she didn’t use private email, only state.gov, fyi.]

And when I got there, I wanted to just use one device for both personal and work e-mails, instead of two. It was allowed. And as I said, it was for convenience. And it was my practice to communicate with State Department and other government officials on their .gov accounts so those e-mails would be automatically saved in the State Department system to meet recordkeeping requirements, and that, indeed, is what happened. [Necessary to reiterate these claims? Particularly since they’re your weakest talking points?]

And I heard just a little while ago the State Department announced they would begin to post some of my e-mails, which I’m very glad to hear, because I want it all out there. [By “all” you mean the limited emails you deemed fitting to share with State in printed form, correct?]

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, can you…

CLINTON: Andrea? Andrea, thank you, Andrea. [No. No. No. You aren’t actually calling on Andrea Mitchell.]

QUESTION: Can you explain how you decided which of the personal e-mails to get rid of, how you got rid of them and when? And how you’ll respond to questions about you being the arbiter of what you release?

And, secondly, could you answer the questions that have been raised about foreign contributions from Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia, that abuse women or permit violence against women to the family foundation and whether that disturbs you as you are rightly celebrating 20 years of leadership on this issue?

[OK. This planted question is undoubtedly better than the first. But still. It comes from one of the least respected journalists in her field. A known partisan hack who effusively praises only politicians who support abortion rights. You fit the bill, and she’s obviously one of your best allies here. But it’s too obvious. The two-part question at first seemed like a real question, even if it permits a rather easy answer — you can quickly make it seem like your decision-making process was robust before moving on to a Bill Clinton-type answer on the second part. But then Andrea Mitchell went and Andrea Mitchelled herself … “rightly celebrating 20 years of leadership” on violence against women? Is this some veiled reference to your marriage? What is she talking about? It just sounds like MSNBC throne-sniffing.]

CLINTON: Well, those are two very different questions. Let me see if I can take them in order. And I’ll give you some of the background.

In going through the e-mails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. [Why did we switch from talking about “pages” of emails to now the aggregate number of emails?] About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal that were not in any way related to my work. [Again, decided solely by you, with no independent oversight?] I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear. [Could you explain this in a way that doesn’t make it sound like you destroyed evidence that could have sent you to prison?]

For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related. I am very confident of the process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced. [You realize that this is bullhockey, right? I mean, reminding people of how much you can get away with if you’re a federal employee might not be your best strategy to clear the air.]

And I feel like once the American public begins to see the e- mails [again, we’re talking only about the ones that you decided would be shared with State, right? Not the ones you destroyed all evidence of?], they will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official’s daily communications, which I think will be quite interesting.

With respect to the foundation, I am very proud of the work the foundation does. I’m very proud of the hundreds of thousands of people who support the work of the foundation and the results that have been achieved for people here at home and around the world. [A bit vague.]

And I think that we are very clear about where we stand, certainly where I stand, on all of these issues. There can’t be any mistake about my passion concerning women’s rights here at home and around the world. [Just worth noting that if you can’t answer an Andrea Mitchell softball, you might want to rethink these presidential ambitions.]

So I think that people who want to support the foundation know full well what it is we stand for and what we’re working on. [What about everyone else? Your foundation is famously opaque. You have aides follow journalists to the bathroom at your events.]

CLINTON: Hi, right here.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: She’s sort of squashed, so we’ve got to…

QUESTION: Hi, Secretary.


QUESTION: I was wondering if you think that you made a mistake either in exclusively using your private e-mail or in response to the controversy around it. And, if so, what have you learned from that? [I didn’t go to journalism school but isn’t rule #1 that you don’t ask yes/no questions? Also, this seems like a question a friendly therapist might ask. Yes, you’re choreographing these early questions. But don’t be so obvious about it.]

CLINTON: Well, I have to tell you that, as I said in my remarks, looking back, it would have been probably, you know, smarter to have used two devices. But I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department.

And I have to add, even if I had had two devices, [Last week you claimed you did.] which is obviously permitted — many people do that — you would still have to put the responsibility where it belongs, which is on the official. So I did it for convenience and I now, looking back, think that it might have been smarter to have those two devices from the very beginning. [Really want to encourage you to rethink this “convenience” talking point.]

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton?


QUESTION: Did you or any of your aides delete any government- related e-mails from your personal account? And what lengths are you willing to go to to prove that you didn’t? [Hillary, I don’t want to alarm you. But a real journalist slipped into your presser. Are you going to be OK?]

Some people, including supporters of yours, have suggested having an independent arbiter look at your server, for instance.

CLINTON: We did not. In fact, my direction to conduct the thorough investigation was to err on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work related. [If you want people to believe this, you’re really going to need to substantiate this with more than Clinton words.]

That doesn’t mean they will be by the State Department once the State Department goes through them, but out of an abundance of caution and care, you know, we wanted to send that message unequivocally. [The New York Times reported that “senior State Department officials held negotiations with Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers and advisers to gain access to her personal email records.” The State Department had to go through negotiations and sit-down meetings with your lawyers to pry your emails from you. And the ones you didn’t want to share were destroyed. Does that sound like caution and care? Much less transparency?]

That is the responsibility of the individual and I have fulfilled that responsibility, and I have no doubt that we have done exactly what we should have done. When the search was conducted, we were asking that any email be identified and preserved that could potentially be federal records, and that’s exactly what we did. [After the negotiation, at your discretion, and with no oversight. Gotcha.]

And we went, as I said, beyond that. And the process produced over 30,000 you know, work emails, and I think that we have more than met the requests from the State Department. The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, [FYI: Your husband claims he doesn’t do email. You might want to get unified on this talking point, particularly if you’re appealing to privacy concerns and seeking sympathy. Also, saying the server “contains” personal communications suggests you only deleted the “personal” emails from a certain time period. That sounds kind of suspicious.] and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities and the server will remain private and I think that the State Department will be able, over time, to release all of the records that were provided.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, can you…

CLINTON: Right there.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, two quick follow ups. You mentioned the server. That’s one of the distinctions here.

This wasn’t Gmail or Yahoo or something. This was a server that you owned. Is that appropriate? Is it — was there any precedent for it? Did you clear it with any State Department security officials? And do they have — did they have full access to it when you were secretary? [Hillary. You simply must extract yourself from this situation. Real journalists are now asking questions and unless you have answers about 275% better than your previous ones, this is going to be even more of a disaster than it already is. Did you work out an escape plan with your handlers? Why isn’t Nick doing a better job of planting questions and calling on the right people?]

And then separately, will any of this have any bearing or effect on your timing or decision about whether or not you run for president? Thank you.

CLINTON: Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches. [Did you see the movie Zoolander? Here, let’s look at this clip:

You’re not as stupid as the male models of Zoolander. Don’t act like one. You’re acting like physical security of the server means anything. Running your own server is difficult, even without the concerns of a secretary of state. You could have been hacked by every two-bit highschooler in the southern hemisphere, much less some high-level foreign intel shops. And you wouldn’t even know it. Rather than point to Secret Service guys who are on your grounds, you need to explain what security precautions you undertook. Who was the security official overseeing your server? See, this is the kind of answer that’s a disaster. Get out of this situation.]

So, I think that the — the use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure. [It just happened to start with your husband, who claims to have sent only two emails in his lifetime, both during his time as president, on the eve of your tenure at State? OK.] Now, with respect to any sort of future — future issues, look, I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters. And I feel that I’ve taken unprecedented steps to provide these work-related emails. They’re going to be in the public domain. And I think that Americans will find that you know, interesting, and I look forward to having a discussion about that.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary?


QUESTION: How could the public be assured that when you deleted emails that were personal in nature, that you didn’t also delete emails that were professional, but possibly unflattering?

And what do you think about this Republican idea of having an independent third party come in an examine your emails? [OK, fine. You wanted a presser, you’re getting a presser. But the point of this type of presser is that you have to have answers. Yes, the media will always be helpful to you against Republicans. But even they have a limit. You’re testing it.]

CLINTON: Well first of all, you have to ask that question to every single federal employee, because the way the system works, the federal employee, the individual, whether they have one device, two devices, three devices, how many addresses, they make the decision. [No. Nope. Not at all. This is not the way the system works. Literally every federal employee’s work product is supposed to be accessible and available to his or her agency and their oversight committees. Also the media and, frankly, much of the general public. That’s how it works. Dick Nixon doesn’t get to decide which 18 minutes are personal and which aren’t. You have simply got to lose this talking point.]

So, even if you have a work-related device with a work-related .gov account, you choose what goes on that. That is the way our system works. And so we trust and count on the judgment of thousands, maybe millions of people to make those decisions. [If that were the case, Lois Lerner would not be taking the Fifth right now. Also, you were secretary of state. Maybe stop acting like you were the equivalent of Bob Dorfmann, the night janitor at HUD.]

And I feel that I did that and even more, that I went above and beyond what I was requested to do. And again, those will be out in the public domain, and people will be able to judge for themselves. [The ones you and your lawyers negotiated to release and not the ones you destroyed evidence of. Just want to be clear.]

QUESTION: Okay, Madam.

Madam Secretary?

Madam Secretary, excuse me.

Madam Secretary, State Department rules at the time you were secretary were perfectly clear that if a State Department employee was going to be using private email, that employee needed to turn those emails over to the State Department to be preserved on government computers.

Why did you not do that? Why did you not go along with State Department rules until nearly two years after you left office?

QUESTION: And also, the president of the United States said that he was unaware that you had this unusual email arrangement. The White House counsel’s office says that you never approved this arrangement through them.

Why did you not do that? Why did you — why have you apparently caught the White House by surprise? [… these questions are killing you … can you locate the nearest Vox employee quickly and call an audible?]

And then just one last political question, if I — I might. Does all of this make — affect your decision in any way on whether or not to run for president?

CLINTON: Well, let me try to unpack your multiple questions.

First, the laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed. [This exclusive use of private email is highly disputed. You’re usually pretty good at parsing things better.]

Secondly, under the Federal Records Act, records are defined as reported information, regardless of its form or characteristics, and in meeting the record keeping obligations, it was my practice to email government officials on their state or other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved. [Your most trusted aide — your “second daughter” — Huma Abedin also didn’t have a .gov email. Avoid this talking point.]

Now, there are different rules governing the White House than there are governing the rest of the executive branch, and in order to address the requirements I was under, I did exactly what I have said. I emailed two people, and I not only knew, I expected that then to be captured in the State Department or any other government agency that I was emailing to at a .gov account.

What happened in — sorry, I guess late summer, early — early fall, is that the State Department sent a letter to former secretaries of state, not just to me, asking for some assistance in providing any work-related emails that might be on the personal email. [You can’t possibly think that you complied with the Federal Records Act by having a private email server that your staff had accounts on and that you had to negotiate a transfer of information with the department you once oversaw. You can’t possibly think that. There simply has to be a better talking point.]

And what I did was to direct, you know, my counsel to conduct a thorough investigation and to err on the side of providing anything that could be connected to work. They did that, and that was my obligation. I fully fulfilled it, and then I took the unprecedented step of saying, “Go ahead and release them, and let people see them.”

QUESTION: Why did you wait two months? Why — why did you wait two months to turn those emails over? The rules say you have to turn them over…

(CROSSTALK) CLINTON: I don’t think — I’d be happy to have somebody talk to you about the rules. I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.

QUESTION: Were you ever — were you ever specifically briefed on the security implications of using — using your own email server and using your personal address to email with the president?

CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.

So I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material. [I know it’s dangerous to ask a Clinton for a definition but I think the American people would be really interested in seeing how you define “classified material.” Your schedule, who you met with, even a simple “yes” to a coded question can be considered classified, depending on the context. If you had any two attorney experts in classified material going over your material, even they might not agree about what met the threshold. And, of course, both of them might find your standard wildly noncompliant. We need some additional answers here. Either way, it’s one thing to deny sending classified email and another thing entirely to have received some. I’ll just drop this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this here.]



CLINTON: Because they were personal and private about matters that I believed were within the scope of my personal privacy and that particularly of other people. They have nothing to do with work, but I didn’t see any reason to keep them. [You deleted the personal emails about your mother? Your daughter? Your personal notes with your husband (who, again, claims not to use email)? Did you print them out as keep-sakes first? This all seems odd. Destroying evidence at least makes sense. Getting rid of memories around the time of your mother’s death doesn’t.]


QUESTION: At the end of the process.


QUESTION: … who was forced to resign two years ago because of his personal use of emails?

By the way, David Shuster from Al Jazeera America.

CLINTON: Yeah. Right…

QUESTION: What about Ambassador Scott (inaudible) being forced to resign?

CLINTON: David, I think you should go online and read the entire I.G. report. That is not an accurate representation of what happened. [This is a completely accurate representation of what happened. The I.G. report is clear that setting up this alternate email system was in fact one of the reasons he was forced to resign. This needs a better answer.]


CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. [Thank you. This was fun. Let’s do it again.]

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

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