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Obama Admin Fumbles Qs On Clinton Skirting Classification Rules

- January 8, 2016

Obama Admin Fumbles Qs On Clinton Skirting Classification Rules

WH Grilled On Clinton Email Directing Aide To Send Secure Info Via Unsecure Means

REPORTER: "On Hillary Clinton's emails, which has been an ongoing story, as you know, over night the State Department released 3,000 pages at about 1 AM, one is getting some attention today. It's an email between Mrs. Clinton and her top aide, Jake Sullivan, and she's trying to receive some sensitive talking points via secure fax and she writes 'if they can't fax them, turn into non-paper with no identifying heading and send non-secure,' getting a lot of chatter from Mrs. Clinton critics on this but does the White House think it's appropriate to remove markings and send information in a non-secure format?" WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: "I'm just not aware of all the circumstances of what exactly transpired but my guess is that the Clinton campaign has done some digging on this to try and understand the circumstances of this particular communication, so, I'd refer you to them to get a better understanding of exactly what it says about the way Secretary Clinton handled sensitive information." REPORTER: "But, surely you would say that removing markings on any document from anybody in the administration that was to be transmitted to be removed any marking classification would not be appropriate?" EARNEST: "It is not uncommon for the administration, in pursuit of transparency, to release redacted information that if un-redacted were to otherwise would be subject to some classification. Again, without knowing the details of what exactly was being discussed it's hard for me to comment." (Josh Earnest, Remarks At White House Press Briefing, 1/8/16)

State Dodges On Clinton Directing Aide To Send Secure Info Via Unsecured Network

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS' MATT LEE: "Former Secretary Clinton and Jake Sullivan on June 16th through the 17th of 2011 in which one of them which she tells Jake to that if she can't get a secure fax through or if there is a problem with the secure fax going through she asks him if he would remove the header, make it non-paper and email it to her on her private server. Do you know what this is about? They appear to have been talking points for a telephone conversation she was going to have with Senator Cardin, but I'm looking to you to see if you can confirm that and also to ask whether or not this is an issue? A problem for the State Department." STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY: "On the first part of your question, I do not know. I don't know anything more about the document in question or the email traffic than what you do having seen it. So I don't have additional context on it, and as I've said many times I'm going to continue to refrain to speaking on specific content here for former Secretary Clinton's email practices, that's not our role right now. The second part of your question, it was about whether it was a problem. Can you be more specific about what you mean about that?" LEE: "Yeah, some including Senator Grassley say that this suggests that former Secretary Clinton was asking her Deputy Chief of Staff to remove potentially classified information from what was to be a secure fax and put it into an email that would be sent unclassified that would be sent to her private server. Would that be a violation of State Department rules if that was the case? I mean first of all is that the case, is that what was happening here?" KIRBY: "I don't know that it's the case, and as you know I'm not going to talk about former Secretary Clinton's email practices, that are not our role here. Not least of which also, those practices are under review and investigation. So it wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about that, and as for the intention, the motivation, I simply wouldn't have that information." (John Kirby, Remarks At State Department Press Briefing, 1/8/16)

State Refuses To Say If They Are Concerned Clinton May Have Tried To Skirt Classification Rules

LEE: "So in some respects though it doesn't really matter how she ended up getting these talking points. I mean it could've been faxed to her; you could've had some guy bring it over in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist, or carrier pigeon for that matter. The point that I think Senator Grassley and others are asking about or trying to make, is that in this email she asked her aide to strip off the heading of something that was going to be sent on a secure fax and turned it into a non-paper and then, their implication, the critics implication is to disguise it, what might have been Class 5 information, and then send it to her on her email. So is that a concern of the department that this might have been an attempt to skirt the rules of classification." KIRBY: "Once again our role is to make these documents public, not to make judgments about the content of them, or the practices." LEE: "But you're making judgments about the content of them all the time. That's what you do when you redact them, you go through and review them, you judge whether." KIRBY: "That's appropriate security related work that has to be done, because of the law. The law makes that so, it's not because we're making some subjective decision, that well we don't want Matt Lee to know about this so let's just redact it. There's a law that says." LEE: "Well sometimes it feels that way." KIRBY: "Well if I had my way. But no there is a law that governs. We're not making this stuff up. We're not making subjective judgments about the practices that the former Secretary used in how she connected with her staff, that's not our job. That's not our role here, and we're not making subjective judgments about the content of the traffic, except to say we have a very, very, as you guys know better than me, a very rigorous, thorough, and sometimes slow process to redact them appropriately for public consumption. That's our job." LEE: "Sometimes slow is an understatement." KIRBY: "These practices, and this issue is under several reviews and investigations as you guys know that." LEE: "But whose job is that to determine whether the rules of the law regarding classification." KIRBY: "It would be those who are investigating. They have to make those determinations. That's not for the State Department to do." LEE: "So the State Department never makes any judgments about whether the rules of classification have been broken?" KIRBY: "Of course we make judgments about classifications everyday about any number of documents, and traffic that we communicate with now, right now. But in terms of former Secretary Clinton's practices and the content of that traffic those are issues under review and investigation and wouldn't be appropriate for us to speak to." (John Kirby, Remarks At State Department Press Briefing, 1/8/16)


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