« The Volatility / Quantitative Easing Dance of Doom | Main | The 2015 Financial Meltdown & More »

Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton and the Historical Record

On March 10th, after eight days of anticipation, media and political uproar, the world fell privy to Hillary Clinton “breaking her silence” (aside from the stray tweet beforehand) regarding her decision to conduct government business from her personal email address while Secretary of State - for ‘convenience’ purposes.

There are basically two opinion camps that have formed around email-gate. They break down, as these things too often do, across partisan lines. The GOP camp professes, absent any self-reflection of say, the 22 million lost-then-found emails deleted from a non-government domain during the George W. Bush administration, that this is another example of the Clintonian belief that laws and words are mere obstacles subject to manipulation.

The second, largely progressive Democrat camp believes that Hillary Clinton is being harpooned unfairly over this oh-so-minor issue in the scheme of matters of much greater gravitas. Hey, what is ‘is’ anyway? And what’s wrong with convenience – after all, two phones are so heavy and cumbersome?

But the historical record has an opinion, too. The capture of history is predicated on the preservation of information, preferably as much information as possible. Regarding American Presidential records, sometimes that information remains classified for “national security” or other reasons, or only released after decades of dormancy once said threat is deemed gone.

Other times, it will be made available to the public once it has been processed by archivists, neatly divided into folders and boxes and marked under official category names and numbers. It is then either accessed quickly (as the Oprah interview was at the Clinton library) or awaits years to be requested by a wayward historian. (This was the case for many of the items I was fortunate to unearth through my own recent presidential records analysis.)

When I was probing presidential archives throughout the country for All the Presidents' Bankers, classified, and then unclassified, information included items like former Chase head, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger’s melding of private banking and state department activities leading to the Iran Hostage Crisis during the Carter administration. Still classified information included pages of redactions in the George H W Bush archives regarding his son, Neil Bush’s role in the late 1980s Silverado S&L scandal. 

But even though I focused on the relationships and related policy decisions of presidents with key bankers, history pushed every Secretary of State associated with the 19 presidents I investigated to the surface as well. Their actions happened to intersect with those of the presidents and bankers; domestic and foreign policies thereby intertwined throughout the years in a detectable, and often repetitive, pattern. If those Secretaries of State had taken it upon themselves to divvy up and classify their own correspondence trails, the truth behind their actions, associations, and motivations would have been similarly diffused.

For the most part, before the advent of emails, presidential documents resided in the form of typed letters, handwritten notes, telegrams, and taped recordings (until after Nixon’s presidency). From Teddy Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan, the documents I examined were pre-email technology, as were the George HW Bush documents I was able to view.

As I reached the William J. Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, on a blustery mid-January day in 2013, fewer documents of any kind were available for my requested inspection compared to the prior presidential archives I had visited. First, because they had not been processed yet. Fewer historians and researchers are requesting information and fewer staffers work at these libraries (the money is made at the museum part of the libraries from busloads of tourists, not from those of us digging through the archives.) Second, the advent of emails and the masses of extra correspondence they produce, means that more procedures and protocol are harnessed to determine what can be released to the public, or whether these Automated Records Management System (ARMS) emails, as they are called, will remain hidden under the cloak of  ‘national security.’

The FOIA requests on bankers that I submitted to the Reagan Library for as yet uncategorized, but not classified information were processed within a few months. I have yet to hear back from the FOIA’s on bankers that I submitted to the Clinton Library in January 2013.

By using external email addresses and servers, Hillary Clinton didn’t just rob the records process of its ability to evaluate and categorize information; she robbed the public and even future public servants of the chance to examine her communications for analysis or relevant decision-making. Hillary Clinton chose to self-segregate her correspondence. She asserted she was not violating any rules or seeking to hide her communications in the process. Yet, rules were violated whether she sought to hide anything or not.

Before reporters at the UN, Clinton admitted that, "Looking back, it would've been better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone but at the time this didn't seem like an issue…The vast majority (italics mine) of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department."

She took “unprecedented steps” to make “all work-related emails public."  Yet, these steps weren’t hers to take.

According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, President Obama had corresponded with Clinton via her private email address, “But”, Earnest said, “the president was not aware of the fact that this was a personal email server and that this was the email address that she was using exclusively for all her business."

It’s hard to imagine President Obama wasn’t aware that '' didn’t look like '' But if he had not been too busy to notice such minor discrepancies, he might have wondered whether or not she was using this email address for all of her business, government or otherwise. At some point, during her years working for him, he might have asked her to come on over to the side. But, he didn’t. Perhaps it served neither of them to have done so.

Yet, the Presidential Records Act of 1978, that President Obama himself amended, as did President George W. Bush, to give the White House more latitude in determining security issues for disclosures, is very clear in its definitions regarding what consitutes necessary information.

First, consider that on the White House’s website, under Executive Branch, it states:

“The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress and, to that end, appoints the heads of the federal agencies, including the Cabinet.” (Bold is mine.)

Then, under the heading Department of State, we see confirmation that:

The Secretary of State serves as the President's top foreign policy adviser.

Now, reading the definition of “Presidential Records”, from the National Archives website as per the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22), we see that:

"Presidential records" means documentary materials…created or received by the President, the President’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise or assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President. “

True, these documentary materials don’t include “personal records” (such as yoga classes or wedding plans) or those “of a purely private or nonpublic character which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.

But equally, records are only considered "personal" if they are “not prepared or utilized for, or circulated or communicated in the course of, transacting Government business.” 

This was clearly not the case with Hillary Clinton's emails that did just that. The act also does not exclude government business conducted on a personal email, regardless of whether associated emails were incoming to, or outgoing from the President and captured in that manner. Therefore, conducting any government business on a personal email is a technical violation of the act.

According to Hillary Clinton, all government business related emails have been reverted to the State Department. Whether that is true or not is a conclusion she has robbed history of the ability to make. In other words, she didn't just exercise shady judgment for the sake of convenience, she disrespected American history and its rules for preserving information on behalf of journalists, academics, historians and the American and global public. 

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (3)

Here is what I feel is sad. I think right now Hillary has roughly a 55% chance of being the next President (A subjective but educated guess). Mainly because Pres Obama hasn't left a horrid mark on the electorate's minds and a huge proportion of women (including Republican women when the choice is whittled down to 2 candidates and their staring at a ballot that creates the FIRST FEMALE US President). I am not WHOLEHEARTEDLY against a female President.....but I do feel it incredibly sad when a phony LIAR like HIllary Clinton is being shoved down our throats by an oligopolist two party system, when Elizabeth Warren would make 500 times the better choice.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTed K

There is no Two-Party system. Its a one party system with to faces. Both Hillary and Jeb have been seen sucking around Goldman $achs. Elizabeth Warren showed her true colors with her 'Lets not have guvment interfere with the banking' comment. Face it, Representative Democracy is merely a system used by those in power. Im currently investigating some people's findings that the Constitution was never intended to be a vehicle of the people for self government. Small scale culturally established communities may get Democracy(or any other -ism) to work but the more power and money at stake, the more the Rule of Law becomes the Law of the Jungle. Governemnts come and go but small groups of people always find ways to rest power from its original intent. Likely genetic/epigenetic to the human experience. look to history, seed for the future. Dont buy the popular hype.

March 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGabe


The ability of the banking sect to work across party lines over the past century is documented in All the Presidents' Bankers. It's all about power and influence.

March 22, 2015 | Registered CommenterNomi Prins
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.