Attorney Erika Rottenberg said in a 2015 bombshell email to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that her inexplicable decision to send secure documents on a private email server and then further delete documents without consulting anyone “smacks of acting above the law.”
The email, leaked by WikiLeaks as part of its release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s correspondence, dates back to June 21, 2015, and discusses in unusually frank detail the scandalous nature of Clinton’s use of a private email server — from the perspective of a lawyer with extensive experience in the policy and tech world.
“I know when I talk to my friends who are attorneys we are all struggling with what happened to the emails and aren’t satisfied with answers to date,”Rottenberg wrote to Stephanie Hannon, chief technical officer of the Clinton campaign, and senior campaign policy adviser Ann O’Leary. “While we all know of the occasional use of personal email addresses for business, none of my friends circle can understand how it was viewed as ok/secure/appropriate to use a private server for secure documents AND why further Hillary took it upon herself to review them and delete documents without providing anyone outside her circle a chance to weigh in. It smacks of acting above the law and it smacks of the type of thing I’ve either gotten discovery sanctions for, fired people for, etc.”
Rottenberg seems to have been referring to Clinton’s decision to delete approximately 32,000 emails from her private server, which she labeled as non-work related.
According to Rottenberg in the above email, her friends, also attorneys, are absolutely baffled at Clinton’s decision to store sensitive documents on a private email server and then unilaterally delete tens of thousands of emails.
As one example of bafflement, Rottenberg copied over in the email a question from a friend of hers, who seemed far more aggressive than Rottenberg. The part of the question from Rottenberg’s friend begins at, “Okay, one thing to use personal email.”
“[Y]ou’re obviously amongst friends, but here’s the one i referred to (can’t remember which of you i talked about it with, if not both). It’s from someone that wasn’t goign to come, and i encouraged him to come,” Rottenberg wrote. “he comes at the issue slightly differnetly than what I’ve dsicussed with both of you (Ok, one thing to use personal email, but why the “twisted truth” (not my words) on why – with the two problematic areas being (a) emails to bill (when they were to bill’s staff) and (b) i only used one device — BB, when 2 weeks earlier, it was an iphone, BB and ipad. As Ann and I discussed, hopefully that’s a timing issue and whilst in state, she only used one. :).”
Clinton told reporters in March 2015 the emails were deleted “because they were personal and private about matters that I believed were within the scope of my personal privacy.” Apparently, lawyers asked Clinton about what she wanted to do with the personal emails. She responded that she had no use for them, so the legal team told the technical team to get rid of them.
“They had nothing to do with work,” Clinton said at the time. “I didn’t see any reason to keep them … no one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.”
The FBI, however, recommended no charges against Clinton and said there was no evidence to indicate that emails were intentionally deleted, only stating that her handling of email was “extremely careless.”
While she was secretary of state, Clinton conducted official government business on an unauthorized, insecure, private email server.
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