The White House has decided it will not release any emails between President Obama and Hillary Clinton until after he leaves office, a senior administration official confirmed to Fox News – a development that came as the State Department released another massive tranche of Clinton documents.
The department released 7,000 pages of Clinton emails on Friday in the agency’s largest release since it began posting the records in May.
But as with prior releases, any communication between Obama and his then-secretary of state was absent.
The administration official told Fox News there was a “small number” of emails between the two, described as “mostly non-substantive” because the two leaders conducted most their discussions in person or by phone.
But, as first reported by Reuters, the White House does not plan to release them until after Obama leaves office in 2017. The White House position is that the president’s communications are not subject to public record requests under the Freedom of Information Act and can be withheld while he’s in office. The George W. Bush White House likewise held that his correspondence would not be released until he left office – though the Clinton campaign has pledged to make her records public.
“There is a long history of presidential records being kept confidential while the president is in office,” the senior administration official said in a statement. “With regard to the president’s email, as we have previously acknowledged, the president did on occasion trade emails with Secretary Clinton, and we presume those communications will ultimately be made public, along with the rest of the president’s records, after he leaves office.”
The State Department, meanwhile, plans to release a total of 55,000 emails handed over by Clinton, who was using a private email address and server during her tenure as secretary of state.
A State Department spokesman said the latest batch contains 200-300 emails with information that has since been deemed classified.
Heavily redacted exchanges regarding Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Burma are among the retroactively classified emails in the batch.
Clinton has maintained all along that she had never received or sent any classified documents at the time on her private address or server. The email use is currently the subject of FBI and other probes.
Unclassified exchanges include an email from close adviser Sidney Blumenthal, who refers to Obama’s faltering poll numbers, calling it the “vulnerability of charisma.” Blumenthal has been a frequent name among the thousands of emails already released, often offering the then-secretary advice and gossip on foreign policy flashpoints, including the run-up to the intervention in Libya.
Though past email releases showed Blumenthal offering advice mostly on Libya, this batch showed him writing to Clinton about Syria and other countries.
One email passed on a report from a “friend” and “Syria expert,” who met with a Syrian diplomat who apparently asked that the U.S. “stop supporting groups such as the Syrian National Council b/c they have very little legitimacy or popularity in Syria,” but recommended “showing outward support for the serious and respected Syrian opposition elements.”
Some communications even pertained to the use of personal email.
A June 2011 email from senior official Anne-Marie Slaughter to Clinton advised “it would be a great time for someone inside or outside to make a statement/ write an op-ed that points out that State’s technology is so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.”
Clinton responded, “I think this makes good sense.”
Republicans zeroed in on the fact that hundreds more emails contained retroactively classified material.
“This court-ordered email release is another reminder of why Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted in the White House,” Republican National Committe Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The hundreds of additional emails found to contain classified information and ongoing FBI investigation illustrate just how badly Hillary Clinton jeopardized national security and misled the American people.”
Clinton also exchanged an email with top aide Jake Sullivan who sent along a question from a reporter about the Israelis sounding “cocky” in a press briefing after a meeting with Clinton. She joked that they always sound cocky whether “in the air or on the ground.”
Others are even more light-hearted, like one asking the staff to keep track of two concert dates on the Carole King/James Taylor tour.