Bob Woodward claimed during an appearance on Fox News Sunday that Hillary Clinton had attempted to “subvert the law” as secretary of state by asking an aide to transmit talking points derived from a classified document “nonsecure[ly].” But the State Department confirmed that the classified information from that document was in fact sent by a secure method, and unclassified information can be legally removed from emails that contain classified information and distributed via nonsecure methods. During the same broadcast, Laura Ingraham repeated baseless claims from a discredited Republican lawyer that the FBI is “on the verge of a major revolt” if Clinton is not indicted, even though Clinton is not the target of the FBI's investigation, which is also not criminal in nature.
Newly Released Email About Transmission Of Talking Points Raises GOP Claims Of Mishandling Classified Information
Clinton's Request For Alternative Delivery Of Talking Points Draws Republican Criticism Over Transmittal Of Classified Information. A January 8 report by NPR explained how a newly released email sent by former Secretary Clinton requesting an alternative means of receiving talking points because of problems with transmission by secure fax angered some Republicans:
One particular email drew scrutiny Friday -- a June 17, 2011, exchange between Clinton and adviser Jake Sullivan. In that email string, she tells Sullivan she did not receive the evening's talking points -- typically specifics used to speak to the press and for briefings.
“They say they've had issues sending secure fax. They're working on it,” he writes to Clinton. She responds, “If they can't, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Much of the email, including its subject line, were redacted, making it difficult to discern the topic and full context of the document.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement that the specific email “raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server.” [NPR, 1/8/16]
Bob Woodward Suggested Clinton Attempted To “Subvert The Rules” With Request For Talking Points To Be Sent Via Nonsecure Email
Bob Woodward Claims Clinton Was Attempting To “Subvert The Rules” By Asking Aide To Send Information From Classified Document “Nonsecure.” On the January 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, guest Bob Woodward claimed that Clinton's request to her aide meant she was trying to “subvert the rules” and that it shows “she kind of feels immune, that she lives in a bubble, and no one is ever going to find this out.” Woodward suggested the exchange revealed something negative about Clinton's character, then acknowledged that “Maybe it was talking points for a press briefing, and there may be no classified information in there”:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be cruising to the nomination, but there was a new release of emails on Friday and this may cause some problems for her. Let's put up this up on the screen. In 2011, when an aide was having trouble sending her material by a secure fax, she sent these instructions: “If they can't, turn into nonpaper with no identifying heading and send nonsecure.” Bob Woodward, why is this important?
BOB WOODWARD: Well, because here you have the secretary of state in 2011 saying, “let's subvert the rules,” which say you've got to send -- presumably -- I mean, it's very clear from the earlier emails that this was a security issue, and I've written about nonpapers or no papers, and this is the way people in the government take the heading off and create something that exists, but --
WALLACE: Explain that, explain that to the rest of the world here. What's a nonpaper and what is taking the heading off?
WOODWARD: By taking it off, it's just a piece of paper that has a bunch of paragraphs. And there's no classification, there's no subject, so it's not in the system, so no one can discover it through Freedom of Information Act or some sort of subpoena. I mean, look, here is Hillary Clinton, somebody who worked on the staff of the Nixon impeachment committee, and what was the lesson, one of the lessons from that? Never write anything down. She did years of Whitewater investigations where she was the target, and here, many years later, she's saying, “oh, let's subvert the rules” and writing it out herself? You know, whether that's some sort of crime I think is not the issue. The issue is it shows she kind of feels immune, that she lives in a bubble, and no one is ever going to find this out. Well, now we have.
WOODWARD: But going back many years, I've followed the Hillary Clinton -- you know, what she does. And biography is character and behavior is character here, and when I read that, I was really surprised that she would type that out and say, “Let's send it nonsecure,” and, you know, maybe we'll get answers. In fairness to her, it's not clear what this is about, what the talking points were and so forth.
WALLACE: Does it matter in a sense? I mean, if it was supposed to be send secure and she, as you say, subverting the law by saying “send it” -- or at least the regulations by sending it nonsecure, isn't that --
WOODWARD: The question is what is it? I've tried to look into the record and figure out what was going on that day and she was going to give a press briefing. Maybe it was talking points for a press briefing, and there may be no classified information in there. At the same time, she was meeting with the Russians and maybe there was. So, we'll see. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 1/10/16]
But The State Department Said Clinton's Requested Talking Points Were Transmitted By A Secure Method And Unclassified Information From Classified Documents “Can Be Appropriately Transmitted Unclassified”
Associated Press: State Department's “Records ... Turned Up A Secure Fax Transmission Shortly After Clinton's Email Exchange With Adviser Jake Sullivan.” On January 9, the Associated Press reported that the State Department “checked its records and found no indication that the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email,” and “instead turned up a secure fax transmission shortly after Clinton's email exchange”:
The State Department provided more detail Saturday about a 2011 document at the center of Hillary Clinton's latest email controversy, as an official said the former secretary of state never received the paper by nonsecure fax. But many other questions remained unanswered.
Clinton, whose presidential campaign has been challenged by her use of a private email account while secretary of state, is facing questions anew after Friday's revelation that she asked an adviser to go around a secure fax system to transmit a set of “talking points” on an unspecified subject.
Clinton told the adviser to turn it “into nonpaper w/no identifying heading and send nonsecure.” Republicans immediately pounced on the exchange and suggested it proved impropriety.
The State Department said Friday that no such document was sent by email.
And on Saturday, a State Department official who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the increasingly complicated review of Clinton's emails said the agency “checked its records and found no indication that the document in question was sent to Secretary Clinton using nonsecure fax or email.”
The official, who demanded anonymity, said records instead turned up a secure fax transmission shortly after Clinton's email exchange with adviser Jake Sullivan on June 17, 2011. The implication was that this was the same document. [Associated Press, 1/9/16]
Politico: “Officials See No Indication The Document Was Ever Sent To The Email Account Clinton Used.” In a January 8 article, Politico cited State Department spokesman John Kirby stating that the State Department has “found no indication that the document was emailed to former Secretary Clinton”:
The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton's homemade email ever put classified information at risk, and Republicans on the Hill have also been probing the matter. A key question they've asked is whether someone instructed aides to send classified information over unsecured accounts, which can be illegal.
The campaign in a statement Friday said Clinton would do no such thing.
“It is false that Hillary Clinton asked for classified material to be sent over a nonsecure system,” said spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement.
And State Department spokesman John Kirby said officials see no indication the document was ever sent to the email account Clinton used, which was hosted on a private server.
“We did do some forensics on that and found no evidence it was actually emailed to her,” Kirby said at a daily news briefing on Friday. “We have found no indication that the document was emailed to former Secretary Clinton. There are other ways it could have found its way to her for her use.”
Kirby also said the fact that the talking points were initially set to be sent via a secure system did not necessarily mean they were classified.
“Just because something, a document, is on a classified system doesn't necessarily make the document, the content, necessarily classified,” he added. He would not say if the document was classified. [Politico, 1/8/16]
Clinton On Face The Nation: “Oftentimes There Is A Lot Of Information That Isn't At All Classified” Within Classified Documents That “Can Be Appropriately Transmitted Unclassified.” On a January 10 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Hillary Clinton discussed the email in question and explained that “oftentimes there is a lot of information that isn't at all classified” in classified government documents, and that “whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was”:
Hillary Clinton on Sunday defended instructing an aide to send information to her through a “nonsecure” channel, saying the data she requested was not classified and accusing her presidential rivals of seeking to score political points over a non-issue.
The State Department released more than 3,000 of Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of State on Friday. One of the emails has drawn scrutiny because in it, Clinton, who was awaiting a secure fax detailing talking points, instructed an adviser to turn the talking points into “nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure” because the fax wasn't coming through.
“This is another instance where what is common practice -- I need information, I had some points I had to make, and I was waiting for a secure fax that could give me the whole picture, but oftentimes there is a lot of information that isn't at all classified,” Clinton said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “So whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was. That's true for every agency in the government and everybody that does business with the government.”
The State Department release does not make clear what the contents of the email were or whether the information was classified. Clinton contends that she trusted Sullivan to respond appropriately. [The Hill, 1/10/16]
Laura Ingraham Cited Discredited Republican Lawyer To Claim FBI “Revolt” Over Investigating Emails
Laura Ingraham: Former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova Said FBI “On The Verge Of A Major Revolt” Over FBI Investigation Of The Handling Of Clinton's Emails. On the January 10 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham claimed former Republican U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova told her the FBI is “on the verge of a major revolt in right now with the way [the investigation of Clinton's emails] is being handled”:
LAURA INGRAHAM: Joe DiGenova, former U.S. attorney, said on my radio show --
INGRAHAM: Joe DiGenova said the FBI, Chris, is in a major -- on the verge of a major revolt in right now with the way this issue is being handled. And I think George --
WALLACE: Joe DiGenova, we should say former U.S. attorney.
INGRAHAM: Former U.S. attorney. George hit the nail on the head. This is a matter of legality. This goes to the heart of whether we can trust our government to be fully transparent when they're supposed to be, and properly handle this kind of information, and the professionals will have the final say. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 1/10/16]
Joseph DiGenova Is A Discredited Republican Activist Who Pushed False Benghazi Claims And Suffered Criticism For Unprofessional Conduct
DiGenova Falsely Claimed Members Of The Military Were “Relieved Of Their Duty Because They Insisted That There Be A Military Response” To Benghazi Attacks. On October 28, 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that some members of the military were “relieved of their duty because they insisted that there be a military response” the night of the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, despite the fact that a military response was ordered by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. These military forces included a Marine anti-terrorism team deployed from Spain and special operations forces that were stationed in Croatia and the United States, but they did not arrive until after the attacks were over. [Media Matters, 10/29/13; Media Matters, 10/28/13]
DiGenova Baselessly Alleged That Obama Administration Tried To Cover Up Theft Of Hundreds Of Surface-To-Air Missiles In Benghazi. In October 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that the Obama administration was trying to cover up the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles that were somehow linked to the American presence in Benghazi. While diGenova told WMAL that he didn't whether the missiles were physically at the CIA annex the night of the attack, “it is clear that the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles.” DiGenova did not name his sources for this claim, acknowledged that some of his information is not “verifiable,” and provided no evidence to back up the allegation. [Media Matters, 8/13/13; CNS News, 8/13/13]
DiGenova Has Been Criticized By Lawmaker For “Non-Stop Mugging” For The Press And For Lacking “Impartiality, Non-Partisanship, And Professionalism.” In 1998, Joseph DiGenova and his wife and legal partner Victoria Toensing, who were working as outside counsel for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, were criticized for their actions in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A February 5, 1998, Roll Call article “Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo) launched a stinging attack on the two lead attorneys investigating the Teamsters campaign finance scandal yesterday, alleging that the attorneys have lost their objectivity because of their frequent television appearances and 'participation' in the scandal involving ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.” The article also reported:
Clay's rebuke of former independent counsel Joseph diGenova and his wife and law firm partner, Victoria Toensing, who were hired in November by a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee, came in a letter to Chairman Bill Goodling (R-Pa) yesterday.
“Sadly, Mr. diGenova and Ms. Toensing have become so closely aligned with the President's critics and so personally identified with the scandal itself as to have relinquished the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required of leaders of a serious congressional investigation,” wrote Clay, the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.
“Put more bluntly,” Clay added, “the couple's relentless self-promotion and non-stop mugging for the likes of Geraldo Rivera - however good for business and their egos - is unseemly, undignified, unworthy of this committee, and generally detrimental to important Congressional functions.”
Clay said in his letter that a LEXIS/NEXIS search found 166 citations of diGenova and Toensing commenting on the Lewinsky affair between Jan. 21 and Feb. 4. The letter came even as Republicans approved an additional $750,000 for the diGenova-Toensing investigation. [Roll Call, 2/5/98 via Nexis; Media Matters, 7/13/10]
DiGenova Was Criticized For Conflict Of Interest Over Dual Role In Separate DOJ Investigations.DiGenova and Toensing were criticized for serving as special counsel in the House Education and the Workforce Committee probe into Justice Department oversight of the Teamsters union while also representing Dan Burton, the committee's chairman at the time, in a separate Justice Department probe. A December 18, 1997, Roll Call article reported: “Rep. Bill Clay (Mo), the full committee's ranking Democrat, has raised questions about the fact that the two attorneys are also representing Burton in the Justice Department's investigation of charges that the Government Reform and Oversight chairman tried to extort campaign money from a lobbyist during the 1996 election cycle.” The article also reported:
Democrats believe this creates a conflict of interest because [Rep. Pete] Hoekstra's [R-MI] subcommittee plans to investigate the Justice Department's decade-long oversight of the Teamsters, specifically the agency's handling of the union's 1996 presidential election.
Clay says that diGenova and Toensing, a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan Administration, should not lead a Congressional investigation of the Justice Department while the department is conducting a criminal investigation of one of their outside clients. [Roll Call, 12/18/97 via Nexis; Media Matters, 7/13/10]
DiGenova Was Involved In Discredited And Retracted Article About President Clinton. DiGenova and Toensing were involved in a retracted Dallas Morning News article claiming that a Secret Service agent had witnessed President Clinton and Lewinsky in a “compromising situation.” From the February 27, 1998, report by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz:
The melodrama began when Toensing was approached by an intermediary for a Secret Service agent who was said to be willing to testify that he saw Clinton and Lewinsky in a compromising situation. DiGenova passed this on to Morning News reporter David Jackson (“Joe and I exchanged a few words over that,” Toensing says), and the paper published the story in its Internet edition, attributing the account to an unnamed lawyer “familiar with the negotiations.” But by then the intermediary had told Toensing the agent was backing off.
Hours later, the Morning News retracted the report, saying the “longtime Washington lawyer” had said the information was “inaccurate.”
The couple now say that Toensing, taking a call from Jackson hours before deadline, told the reporter: “If Joe is your source, it's wrong.”
“The bottom line is, they were told not to print and they chose to print,” diGenova says. “I don't know how much more helpful you can be to a newspaper than to tell them not to print.”
Carl Leubsdorf, the paper's Washington bureau chief, says: “The reporter's recollection of that conversation is quite different. He was told that 'if Joe told you that, he shouldn't have.' If it had been the other way, the story of course would have been reassessed at that point.” [The Washington Post, 2/27/98]