WASHINGTON – When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an email in 2010 about former Gov. Rod Blagojevich being found guilty of lying to the FBI – with a jury hung on 23 other counts – her reaction was this: “Pretty puny outcome for all the hype.”
Clinton got the news about the disgraced Illinois governor in what turned out to be the first of two trials in an email from her childhood pal Betsy Ebeling on Aug. 17, 2010, the day a jury in Chicago returned the verdict.
In that reply Clinton also added to Ebeling, “And how are you doing? We’re trying to get away for a week on Friday. I’d really like to go to one of those Swiss sleep sanitariums if they still exist.”
That’s just one peek into Clinton’s private correspondence found in 7,100 pages of e-mails released by the State Department late Monday night. This latest batch – the largest so far – comes as Clinton’s presidential campaign is threatened by the e-mail controversy.
Clinton’s Democratic supporters are worried about the impact of the emails as her poll numbers slide and as Republicans – on the presidential trail and in Congress – argue Clinton using a personal server was at the least improper and at the most illegal.
On the other hand the emails very much show a human side to Clinton, as with the wish for sleep she wrote about to Ebeling, her friend from her days growing up in the northwest Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.
About 125 of those emails in the new batch were classified — but not when they were sent. At the State Department briefing on Monday, spokesman Mark Toner on this point said, “When you look at classified material it is not an exact science. It’s not black and white. It’s not always clear. So there’s strong feelings and different beliefs about when something is classified, whether it’s born classified, whether it should be classified later.”
The emails are a blend of notes on the policy, personal and political front.
Here’s a sampling:
- On Feb. 26, 2010, the subject line of an email Huma Abedin, top aide and confidante – and current Donald Trump target – was “fyi – lyn sweet saying desiree will quit.”Abedin included a link to my Sun-Times scoop that then-White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was resigning, a turn of events that started when a couple crashed a White House State Dinner.And yes, it’s Lynn, not Lyn.
- Then there were a series of emails in February 2010 about a dustup over Gefilte fish, a trade dispute between the U.S. and Israel, and one with an Illinois angle.Former Rep. Don Manzullo’s northwestern Illinois district included a plant which was exporting carp to Israel to make the delicacy featured at Passover seders. Israel wanted to impose a heavy tariff on nine containers of carp the company was exporting.Manzullo, R-Ill., at a House hearing asked Clinton to help solve the problem.
- Ebeling wrote a gossipy email to Clinton on May 13, 2010, reporting about the visit of dozens of foreign diplomats to Chicago, brought to the city through a State Department outreach tour called “Experience America.”Ebeling, writing about a dinner at the Art Institute, said there were some “ambassadors pretending that they were more excited about going to the Merc.”On May 16, 2010, Clinton wrote back, “I’m more worried about whether Amb CM (Capricia Marshall, then the protocol chief) behaved! I told her no table-dancing or karaoke singing. How’d she do? It’s a great idea and Chicago was the perfect place to start. Has spring finally come or are you still covering plants and worrying about the frost? I’ll try calling later for an update. Xxoo”
- Under the subject line “sad news,” there was a June 2010 email Ebeling sent to Clinton about the closing of Jamal Place on Chicago’s West Side because the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would not renew a contract. Clinton was once honored by the group.
- On Oct. 28, 2010, Ebeling emailed Clinton, “the Des Plaines Library Board Tuesday approved closing the library on Dec. 5 if the city of Des Plaines does not cosign a bank loan.”On Oct. 30, Clinton replied. “That is a sad sign and I’m afraid more to come. Happy Halloween from Angkor Wat!”On Oct. 31, Ebeling updated Clinton that the library won a reprieve.
- But this was days before the mid-term elections, so Ebeling added some comments about a recent visit to Chicago by former President Bill Clinton to help the Illinois ticket, led by then-Gov. Pat Quinn.
- Ebeling told Hillary Clinton the coordinated Democratic campaign in Illinois was “ghostlike,” and though Democrats Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton turned out to see President Clinton and get their photos taken, well, she told the Secretary of State she did not think they were doing much.
- “What an assembly of power going nowhere — just finger pointing and hiding. Of course, they all smiled for WJC and said they were working hard for the party …. Is WJC the only one trying? Must be exhausting for him … and you.”
- On Nov. 3, Ebeling sent Clinton an email about how Quinn beat Republican Bill Brady “by three-tenths of a percentage point.”
- The subject line: “The beat goes on…”