WASHINGTON — They all have moved on, but in 2009 aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got separate emails with requests from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and White House senior adviser David Axelrod for her email.
Clinton’s use of private email and a server in her home — not in line with State Department policy — and deleted emails have emerged as a focus of the Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi, whose members include Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
With the committee now starting its second year, Duckworth and other Democrats on the panel are becoming increasingly concerned about the slow pace of the probe, which the chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has said will not wrap up until 2016 — as Clinton is running for president.
The Axelrod and Emanuel exchanges were included in about 3,000 emails released by the State Department late Tuesday, fresh fodder for the Gowdy panel investigation of the 2012 attacks on Benghazi, Libya. With an eye on the Chicago connections, Clinton’s emails show:
In an MSNBC interview last month, Axelrod, who returned to Chicago in 2011, said he “might have asked a few questions” if he knew Clinton had a server in her home.
That the newly released email shows Axelrod knew in 2009 Clinton had a private email address is far from the whole story, Axelrod told me on Wednesday.
“The question I was asked in June was whether I knew she had her own server,” Axelrod said in an email. “As I said when the email story first broke, I did know she had a private email address. I did not know she used it exclusively, and I did not know she had her own server.
“If I had known, I may have raised security questions,” he said.
The emails reveal some of the inner workings of Clinton’s life and her management style.
When then-Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills passed along Axelrod’s email request to Clinton, she replied to Mills, “Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours?” Clinton was referring to her aides.
When an assistant to Emanuel, now the Chicago mayor, wanted Clinton’s email address, Mills first cleared it with Clinton, asking, “Do you want him to have your email?”
The Republican lasso has roped in Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton friend and adviser, over what, if any, significant role he played in advising Clinton on Benghazi. There are many emails in this batch between Clinton and Blumenthal.
Republicans have thrown a spotlight on Blumenthal, raised in West Rogers Park, whose interest in politics was sparked, he once told me, when he worked as an Election Day runner for his 50th Ward precinct captain.
When Blumenthal was covering the 1992 presidential campaign for the New Republic, he first began to get friendly with Clinton while lunching at the Palmer House before the Illinois primary.
Blumenthal attended Rogers Elementary School and is a 1965 Sullivan High School graduate. His sister, Marcia, is an attorney who lives in the North Shore.
Small world: His niece, Leslie Fields, was the policy director for former Gov. Pat Quinn.
The Gowdy panel deposed Blumenthal earlier this month and he said afterward his “testimony has shed no light on the events of Benghazi, nor could it because I have no firsthand knowledge of what happened there.”
Duckworth and the other Democrats are pushing Gowdy to release the transcript of the Blumenthal deposition.
Chum Betsy Ebeling, a friend of Clinton since she was growing up in Park Ridge, in 2009 emailed her pal about another friend, Chicago attorney Kevin O’Keefe, being honored as a distinguished alum of Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Wrote back Clinton, “Could I surprise him w a congratulatory letter? That would embarrass him for sure.”
And in 2009, Terry Duffy, the executive chairman and president of the CME Group — as in Chicago Mercantile Exchange — sent Clinton emails asking her to keynote a 2010 dinner where he was receiving an award from the American Friends of the Hebrew University in Chicago.
Replied Clinton, “Terry—I often have little control over my schedule these days, but we will look closely at this and let you know.” She never made the 2010 dinner.
Duffy also asked Clinton dine with Exchange members at The Hay-Adams, with a group in town for an annual Washington gathering.
In a December 2009 email, Duffy wrote about the South Carolina Republican, now running for president: “Also I had dinner last night with a mutual friend of ours, Sen. Lindsay [sic] Graham. Lindsay always talks how much he likes you and said if I were to be in contact with you to say hi from him.”