Right-Wing Media Push Gowdy's Deceptive Claim About Clinton's Email Subpoena

Right-Wing Media Push Gowdy's Deceptive Claim About Clinton's Email Subpoena

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

Right-wing media outlets are pushing Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy's deceptive claim that Hillary Clinton inaccurately told CNN in an interview that she had never been subpoenaed about the private email system she used as secretary of state. In fact, Clinton refuted a suggestion that she deleted personal emails unrelated to her work while she was under subpoena.

Gowdy Releases Subpoena In Response To "Inaccurate Claim" Clinton Emails Weren't Subpoenaed

Benghazi Committee Press Release: Subpoena Release Is "In Response To [Clinton's] Inaccurate Claim She Had Not Been Subpoenaed." From the July 8 press release by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC):

The House Select Committee on Benghazi today released its March 4, 2015, subpoena to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in response to her inaccurate claim she had not been subpoenaed. The committee subpoenaed Clinton directly after it became aware of her exclusive use of personal email and a server and that the State Department was not the custodian of Clinton's official record. The State Department failed to reveal this essential information to the Benghazi Committee or any other investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks until days before a media outlet was going to publish the information, meaning no investigation prior to the Benghazi Committee's had access to the Secretary of State's communications as part of its review.

"The committee has issued several subpoenas, but I have not sought to make them public," said committee Chairman Trey Gowdy. "I would not make this one public now, but after Secretary Clinton falsely claimed the committee did not subpoena her, I have no choice in order to correct the inaccuracy. The committee immediately subpoenaed Clinton personally after learning the full extent of her unusual email arrangement with herself, and would have done so earlier if the State Department or Clinton had been forthcoming that State did not maintain custody of her records and only Secretary Clinton herself had her records when Congress first requested them." [House Select Committee on Benghazi, 7/8/15]

But Clinton Was Asked About Deleting Emails Under A Subpoena, Which She Refuted

CNN's Keilar Suggested Clinton Deleted Emails That Were Under Subpoena. On June 7, CNN's Brianna Keilar suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton deleted emails that were under subpoena, which the Democratic candidate refuted: (emphasis added)

KEILAR: One of the issues that has eroded some trust that we've seen is the issue of your email practices while you were secretary of state. I think there's a lot of people who don't understand what your thought process was on that.

Can you tell me the story of how you decided to delete 33,000 emails and how that deletion was executed?

CLINTON: Well, let's start from the beginning. Everything I did was permitted. There was no law, there was no regulation, there was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate. Previous secretaries of state have said they did the same thing. And people across the government knew that I used one device. Maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.

KEILAR: But you said they -- that they did the same thing, that they used a personal server and...

CLINTON: Well, personal e-mail...

KEILAR: ...while facing a subpoena, deleted emails from them?

CLINTON: You know, you're starting with so many assumptions that are -- I've never had a subpoena. There is -- again, let's take a deep breath here. Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation. I had one device. When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system. Now, 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 because I knew the vast majority of everything that was official already was in the State Department system. [CNN, The Situation Room7/7/15]

Rep. Elijah Cummings: Clinton Was Responding To Question About Whether She Deleted Emails "While Facing A Subpoena." Business Insider reported that Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking minority member of the Benghazi Select Committee, called the subpoena release a misleading "stunt" that amounts to nothing more than a "taxpayer-funded attack against Secretary Clinton":

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the ranking Democratic member on the committee, argued in response to the release of the subpoena that Clinton was responding to a question in the interview about whether she deleted emails "while facing a subpoena."

"The Committee's press release today supposedly revealing the existence of the subpoena is nothing but a stunt in this latest taxpayer-funded attack against Secretary Clinton," Cummings said. [Business Insider, 7/8/15]

FactCheck.org: Clinton Objected To Keilar's "Assumption" That Personal Emails Were Deleted "While Facing A Subpoena." FactCheck.org explained that Clinton was denying the suggestion that she deleted personal emails while under subpoena:

As Gowdy pointed out, Clinton did receive a House subpoena on March 4, and it was well reported. But Clinton's denial came in response to a question about deleting emails "while facing a subpoena," and Clinton objected to Keiler's "assumption." Clinton's campaign said that the emails were deleted before she received the subpoena and that was the point Clinton was making. [FactCheck.org, 7/8/15]

Subpoena Was Issued Months After Clinton Turned Over Work-Related Emails To State Department

FactCheck.org: Clinton Turned Over Work-Related Emails To State Department In December 2014. FactCheck.org explained that Hillary Clinton's office turned over her work-related emails in December 2014:

In a Q&A issued on March 10, Clinton's office said it turned over copies of her work-related emails to the department on Dec. 5, 2014. It said, "Secretary Clinton chose not to keep her private, personal emails that were not federal records." [FactCheck.org, 7/8/15]

WSJ: Clinton Emails Related To Benghazi Were Given To Committee In February. The Wall Street Journal reported that the approximately 300 emails from Clinton's private email account that related to Libya or Benghazi were given by the State Department to the Benghazi committee in February. [The Wall Street Journal5/22/15]

Gowdy's Subpoena Wasn't Issued Until March, And He Admitted Personal Emails Were Deleted Months Before Then. The Hill reported that the Benghazi committee's subpoena was "delivered to Clinton's attorney on March 4," and quoted Gowdy acknowledging that Clinton's personal emails were deleted months before his subpoena was issued. [The Hill7/8/15]

Subpoena Only Covered Emails Related To Libya And Benghazi During A Certain Time Period, Not Clinton's Personal Emails

Subpoena Was Limited To Emails Over Two-Year Period Related Or Referring To Libya And Benghazi Attacks. The subpoena released by Gowdy shows that it did not apply to personal emails or any work-related emails outside of 2011-12:

Benghazi Clinton Email Subpoena

[House Select Committee on Benghazi, accessed 7/8/15]

But Conservative Media Run With Gowdy's Claim, Declaring That Clinton Lied About Email Subpoena

Fox's Bolling: Clinton Was "Busted" In A "Big Whopper" Lie. On the July 8 edition of Fox's The Five, co-host Eric Bolling parroted Gowdy, declaring Clinton was "busted" by the Benghazi committee chairman, and labeled this a "big whopper." Bolling also claimed that Clinton "said several things that can be construed as lies." [Fox News, The Five, 7/8/15]

Fox's Mike Emanuel: Clinton Made "Unforced Error" About Email Subpoena Question. On the July 8 edition of Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier, senior congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel aired a response from Gowdy and said Clinton made "an unforced error on the subpoena." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier7/8/15]

Breitbart.com: "Clinton Lied About Subpoenas In CNN Interview." A July 8 post from Breitbart.com suggested that Clinton "destroy[ed] information covered by a subpoena" and lied about it to CNN:

In between inviting Hillary Clinton to talk about how much she disapproves of her Republican rivals for president, Brianna Keilar of CNN managed to slip in a perfunctory question about Clinton's outrageous violation of law and policy to set up a private email server, where correspondence she didn't want Congress or the American people to see could be quietly disposed of.

Of course, because this is Hillary Clinton we're talking about, she couldn't get through even the softest of softball interviews without lying.

"Well, let's start from the beginning, everything I did was permitted," Clinton insisted. "There was no law, no regulation, there was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate."

[...]

A quick safety reminder, as a public service to all readers: if you, unlike Hillary Clinton, destroy information covered by a subpoena, you're going to have a lot more than a mildly uncomfortable moment during an interview with a star-struck reporter to deal with. [Breitbart.com, 7/8/15]

Free Beacon: Gowdy Released Subpoena "To Correct Inaccuracy From Clinton's First Interview." A July 8 post from The Washington Free Beacon pushed Gowdy's claim that he was releasing his committee's subpoena for Clinton's email to "correct" what she said in a CNN interview:

Hillary Clinton told CNN on Tuesday that she was never personally subpoenaed. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) says that is simply false, and on Wednesday he released the documentation proving it.

Clinton was personally subpoenaed as part of an investigation into the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, according to a copy of the subpoena released by Gowdy's office. 

She was ordered to turn over emails to or from her personal email accounts, which she used to conduct official State Department business. [The Washington Free Beacon, 7/8/15]

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