Several right-wing media outlets have breathlessly scandalized a stolen email released by WikiLeaks showing President Obama received emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state. These outlets claim the email proves Obama lied when he claimed to have learned about her private email server from news reports about it, even though the White House clarified over a year ago that while the president knew her email address, he did not know about the server.
President Obama Said He Learned About Clinton’s Email Server From The News
President Obama Learned Of Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server “The Same Time Everybody Else Learned It, Through News Reports.” From the March 7, 2015, edition of CBS’ CBS Evening News:
[CBS, CBS Evening News, 3/7/15]
WikiLeaks Releases Stolen Emails Sent To Obama From Secretary Of State Clinton’s Private Server
Politico: Stolen Email Shows Correspondence With Obama Was On Clinton’s Private Server. Kyle Cheney of Politico wrote that Clinton aide Cheryl Mills “expressed alarm in early 2015 that President Barack Obama claimed he was unaware of Clinton's private email server.” Cheney reported that Mills wrote, “We need to clean this up - he has emails from her - they do not say state.gov.”
A top Hillary Clinton aide expressed alarm in early 2015 that President Barack Obama claimed he was unaware of Clinton's private email server until he learned about it in the news.
“We need to clean this up - he has emails from her - they do not say state.gov,” said Clinton adviser Cheryl Mills in a hacked email posted Tuesday on WikiLeaks.
As the scandal over Clinton's use of a private email server was still emerging in March 2015, Obama told CBS News that he learned about the arrangement through the media. “The same time everybody else learned it through news reports,” Obama told CBS News' Bill Plante. [Politico, 10/25/16]
Right-Wing Media Claim President Obama “Knew and Lied About Hillary’s Email Server”
Fox’s Jon Scott: WikiLeaks Has Raised Questions About “What The President Told The World Versus What He May Have Known.” Fox News host Jon Scott reported that “the latest information from WikiLeaks” includes an email from Clinton aide Cheryl Mills saying that Obama has emails from Clinton that “do not say state.gov.” Scott pointed out that the email was sent “after President Obama went on 60 Minutes” to say he “learned about the private email server from news reports.” From the October 25 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
JON SCOTT (HOST): A Fox News alert, and here is what our Ed Henry is flagging for our attention, the latest information from WikiLeaks. You might recall that it was March of 2015 that the world found out that Hillary Clinton was using a private email server, and not her State Department address. Well, Cheryl Mills, who was chief of staff at the State Department, sends out an email to a number of people inside the Hillary Clinton orbit that says this: “We need to clean this up. He,” meaning the president, President Obama, “has emails from her -- they do not say state.gov.” This after President Obama went on 60 Minutes and also in a separate interview to Bill Plante of CBS, he said he learned about the private email server from news reports. Cheryl Mills obviously went into damage control mode there, saying, “We've got to clean this up. He has emails from her,” in other words, the president should have known. That is going to be the matter of some discussion, you would imagine, on Capitol Hill. What the president told the world versus what he may have known or perhaps should have known. Again, Ed Henry is working on it. One of the latest WikiLeaks releases from John Podesta’s email server. [Fox News, Happening Now, 10/25/16]
Fox’s Neil Cavuto: “It Looks Like The President Of The United States Has Some Explaining To Do.” Fox Business host Neil Cavuto said on the October 25 edition of Fox Business’ Cavuto Coast to Coast that the hacked Mills email showed that President Obama “has some explaining to do” about Clinton’s private email, since “hacked emails show President Obama did in fact know about Hillary Clinton's private email while claiming he did not.” Fox Business reporter Blake Burman eventually corrected Cavuto, noting that “the president has said he did not know Clinton was using a private email server.” [Fox Business Network, Cavuto Coast to Coast, 10/25/16]
Fox Business’ Varney & Co.: Mills Email Is “A Clear Contradiction To What The President Said.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney held a brief discussion with Fox Business’ Ashley Webster about the stolen Mills email. Webster stated that the emails showed it was “not true” when the president said he, in Webster’s words, “never heard anything" about Clinton’s email server prior to news reports. Webster concluded that the Mills email was “a clear contradiction to what the president said” to CBS News. From the October 25 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Hold on everybody, I’ve got breaking news, and it’s from WikiLeaks -- here we go sports fans -- involving what and when President Obama knew about Hillary’s private server, Ash.
ASHLEY WEBSTER: Yeah, this is interesting; from Cheryl Mills to John Podesta. This was right after President Obama went on one of the Sunday shows, we’ve been showing that particular soundbite, saying “the first I knew of Hillary’s email situation was when I heard about it on the news with everyone else.” That statement put the Clinton camp into a tizzy. We have this email from Cheryl Mills to Podesta, “we need to clean this up. He has emails from her, they do not say state.gov.” In other words, they’re not on the secure server, so the fact that he says, that the president says, “I never heard anything, I heard about it when you did,” not true.
VARNEY: So can we conclude from this -- not true?
WEBSTER: “We need to clean this up. He has emails from her, they do not say state.gov.” That’s a clear contradiction to what the president said. [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 10/25/16]
Lifezette: “More Evidence Obama Knew and Lied About Hillary’s Email Server.” An article posted on the conservative website Lifezette claimed, “A March 2015 email chain released by WikiLeaks Tuesday is further proof that President Obama lied to the American people when he said he found out about Hillary Clinton’s private email server from news reports.” The October 25 article concludes that “Obama clearly lied” when he claimed to have learned of the server from news reports:
A March 2015 email chain released by WikiLeaks Tuesday is further proof that President Obama lied to the American people when he said he found out about Hillary Clinton’s private email server from news reports.
“Jen you probably have more on this but it looks like POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it in the news,” Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin wrote to Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary Nick Merrill, and others.
Merrill then forwarded Schwerin’s email to longtime Clinton confidante and attorney Cheryl Mills, who sent it to campaign Chairman John Podesta. “We need to clean this up,” she wrote to Podesta. “He has emails from her — they do not say state.gov.”
Obama clearly lied when he told CBS’ Bill Plante that he learned about Clinton’s use of a private email account and server “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” [Lifezette, 10/25/16]
Wash. Examiner: President Obama “Left Voters With The Impression That Officials Up To And Including The President Were Complicit In A Cover-Up Of The Server.” An article in the Washington Examiner claimed the president is just “one of many administration officials who professed to know nothing” about the server until it was revealed that “they had emailed the former secretary on her personal address.” The October 25 article concludes that Obama left himself “open to criticism” because “the public later learned he emailed Clinton at her private address” and that his “initial comments could have left voters with the impression that officials up to and including the president were complicit in a cover-up of the server.” [Washington Examiner, 10/25/16]
Claim Ignores White House Explanation That President Obama Was Aware Of Clinton’s Private Email Address But Not Her Private Email Server
Huff. Post Senior Editor Sam Stein: “The White House Has Already Addressed The Issue Of Obama's Discovery Of Clinton's Private Email Use.”
FWIW. The White House has already addressed the issue of Obama's discovery of Clinton's private email use pic.twitter.com/0UykgYqpJp
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 25, 2016
The White House Clarified This Issue In 2015: Obama Knew Of Clinton’s Email Address, But Not The Details Of Her System, Including The Private Server. From the March 9, 2015, press briefing by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest:
Q We heard from the President in his interview with CBS about this and he said that he first became aware of it in the reports last week. So I’m wondering if, implicit in that, is that the President and Secretary Clinton never emailed one another when Secretary Clinton was serving at the State Department.
MR. EARNEST: That may be one conclusion to draw from the President’s remarks, but it would not be an accurate one. The President, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with his Secretary of State. I would not describe the number of emails as large, but they did have the occasion to email one another. And the point that the President was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address -- he did -- but he was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act. [The White House, 3/9/15]