US State Department releases 3,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's e-mails

Democratic US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during the Democratic Party of Virginia Jefferson-Jackson dinner.
Democratic US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during the Democratic Party of Virginia Jefferson-Jackson dinner.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg Politics/AFP) - The United States State Department released nearly 2,000 e-mails from Mrs Hillary Clinton’s time as top US diplomat late Tuesday, following orders from a federal judge.

The large tranche of e-mails were made public shortly before 9pm local time on Wednesday, on the State Department’s Freedom of Information Act website.

At first glance, the 3,000-some pages of exchanges contain schedules, communications with staff, cables about China and concern over late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddhafi’s 2009 US stay.

When she was secretary of state, Mrs Hillary Clinton and her staff fretted over her press coverage, celebrating favourable stories and trying to tone down others, a the batch of e-mails showed.

Now the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Mrs Clinton and her staff kept a close eye on her public image, dating from her earliest days as a member of the Obama administration, according to exchanges found in the e-mails.  On May 1, 2009, Mrs Clinton's top communications aide Philippe Reines and chief of staff Cheryl Mills exchanged e-mails over concerns about how a New York Times takeout on Mrs Clinton's early months at the State Department, "Her Rival Now Her Boss, Clinton Settles Into New Role", depicted her views of then-national security adviser General James Jones. 

Mr Reines said Mrs Clinton was "understandably upset" with a section of the story that cited people "in her circle" saying "less-than-generous things" about Gen Jones. He told Ms Mills he was able to persuade the reporter to change the story.

Other e-mails featured aides passing on press releases and news stories that cited the then-Secretary of State favourably.

The e-mails, which the department posted to its website on Tuesday just before 9pm Eastern Time,  were the first to cbe released under the terms of a US District Court ruling that said the State Department must comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by publishing portions of Mrs Clinton's approximately 55,000 pages of e-mails monthly. 

Mrs Clinton used private e-mail addresses and a private e-mail server to conduct government business while serving as secretary of state from early 2009 to early 2013. She only submitted her correspondence to the department to comply with open records laws last December.

The latest release provides revealing insights into how Mrs Clinton and her staff operated during her tenure as America's top diplomat, showing them handling, among other things, requests for Mrs Clinton's email address.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had to ask for it, as did long-time Obama political adviser David Axelrod - along with indications that Mrs Clinton got just as frustrated with her overflowing in-box.

"Does he know I can't look at it all day," she wrote to Ms Mills, over Mr Axelrod's request for her e-mail address. "So he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours."

The latest release of e-mails represent a portion of the approximately 30,000 e-mails Mrs Clinton said she sent to the department - representing the 55,000 or so pages - while deleting another 30,000 she deemed personal.

However, the New York Times reported that a Clinton confidante has turned over at least 15 e-mails that the State Department either did not possess or did not disclose to a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The department had previously released less than 300 e-mails related to the attacks, which killed four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.