Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Thinks She Went "Above and Beyond" Just By Complying With Email Retention Requirements



Hillary Clinton has taken a lot of flack for being dismissive toward the press—especially national news outlets—but in recent days her campaign has promised that she will be more open to the media. That started last night with a much-promoted interview with CNN. The 20-minute sit-down, however, turned out to be something of a dud.

The big news from the interview was really just that Hillary Clinton was giving the interview—it was the press-averse Democratic candidate's first exclusive with a national press outlet this year.

Clinton mostly repeated things she'd said before, criticizing the Republican presidential candidates on immigration policy and saying she was very disappointed in Donald Trump's recent statements about immigrants being criminals.

She also repeated a lot of what she's already said regarding her exclusive use of a private email account and server during her tenure as President Obama's Secretary of State.

 "I didn't have to turn over anything. I chose to turn over 55,000 pages because I wanted to go above and beyond what was expected of me," she said, adding, "And I had no obligation to do any of that. So let's set the record straight."

But as The Wall Street Journal's Byron Tao points out in a handy fact-check of the interview, Clinton hardly went "above and beyond" when it came to email. Her use of private email was in clear violation of State Department guidelines—guidelines which she reiterated in a 2011 message to State staffers.

And Clinton's suggestion that she did more than was necessary in terms of turning over her emails was, I think, tellingly wrong.

"When you listen to the CNN interview, she apparently remains under the impression that she went above and beyond any legal requirements and that there were no requirements as a matter of law or fact to make an issue out in terms of her failure to turn over email records relating to government business on a more timely basis," former National Archives and Records Administration litigation director Jason Baron told the Journal. "That's clearly not correct."

Clinton was required to turn over all of her emails, and she claimed to have "turned over everything that I could imagine," although that apparently that didn't include some 15 emails related to her job. Otherwise, however, she does appear to have turned over most of the relevant material. But that's what was required of her. As Baron told the Journal, "She didn't go above and beyond her legal duties." 

But in Clinton's mind, she did. The insistence that she took the extra step is telling because it offers a glimpse into how she views compliance with these sorts of requirements. Just as submitting to the interview was itself a kind of generous, above-and-beyond gift to the news media, barely complying with the transparency requirement was a kind of heroic effort at meeting federal transparency requirements. For Clinton, doing the bare minimum is more than anyone can reasonably expect.