Ms. Clinton forgets

In the classic Cole Porter song, “Miss Otis Regrets.” (“Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.”) In the classic response filed yesterday to interrogatories formulated by Judicial Watch, Ms. Clinton forgets. Ms. Clinton forgets everything relevant to the impropriety of her use of a private email server for official business as Secretary of State. Josh Gerstein reports for Politico:

Hillary Clinton submitted formal answers under penalty of perjury on Thursday about her use of a private email server, saying 20 times that she did not recall the requested information or related discussions, while also asserting that no one ever warned her that the practice could run afoul of laws on preserving federal records.

“Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall being advised, cautioned, or warned, she does not recall that it was ever suggested to her, and she does not recall participating in any communication, conversation, or meeting in which it was discussed that her use of a e-mail account to conduct official State Department business conflicted with or violated federal recordkeeping laws,” lawyers for Clinton wrote.

Clinton also said she could not recall ever being warned about any hacking or attempted hacking of her private account or server.

* * * * *

Clinton “decided to use a account for the purpose of convenience,” her lawyers said. Asked what other reasons she may have had for doing so, she gave no ground.

“Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall considering factors other than convenience in deciding to use a personal e-mail account to conduct official State Department business,” the attorneys said.

Republicans have charged that Clinton used the private set-up in order to evade Freedom of Information Act requests, but the Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state said she doesn’t recall that issue ever coming up when she was at the State Department.

“Secretary Clinton does not recall whether she had a specific expectation that the State Department would receive FOIA requests for or concerning her e-mail. She understood that, because her practice was to e-mail State Department staff on their accounts, her email was being captured in the State Department’s recordkeeping systems….Secretary Clinton understood that e-mail she sent or received in the course of conducting official State Department business was subject to FOIA,” the lawyers wrote.

But what about work-related email to non-State Department staff? Did she understand those emails would not be preserved on the State Department system? I think so.

And she does not recall this: “Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall State Department personnel asking her for access to her e-mail account to search for e-mail responsive to a FOIA request during her tenure as Secretary of State.” Why might that be?

Gerstein inserts:

Whatever Clinton’s expectations, the State Department was not automatically archiving all emails sent to official accounts. State’s inspector general concluded that the method Clinton relied on was “not an appropriate method of preserving emails that constitute Federal records.”

Good point.

And then we have this:

Asked about a November 2010 discussion of Clinton getting an official email account or State Department BlackBerry, Clinton said the issue at the time wasn’t triggered by anything related to her email, but by problems getting informed about phone calls in a timely way. She acknowledged, however, that she did not want State Department officials seeing her personal messages.

“When Secretary Clinton wrote, ‘This is not a good system,’ she was referring to the way in which the State Department would notify her of telephone calls. Secretary Clinton does not recall what precisely she meant by the words ‘address’ or ‘device,'” the attorneys wrote.

“To the best of her recollection, she meant that she was willing to use a State Department e-mail account or device if it would resolve the problems with receiving telephone calls, so long as her personal e-mails with family and friends would not be accessible to the State Department. Following this e-mail exchange, the State Department changed the way in which it notified Secretary Clinton of telephone calls, resolving the problem that triggered this e-mail,” the lawyers added.

Did those “personal” emails include her infamous correspondence with Sidney Blumenthal about State Department matters? I think so.

No response would be complete without the obligatory Powell Variations and other evasions:

One of the questions put to Clinton sought to explore her public statement that “it was recommended” to her to use a private email account while she was secretary. Clinton’s official answer indicated she was referring to comments former Secretary of State Colin Powell made to her as she was taking office.

“Secretary Clinton states that former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised her in 2009 about his use of a personal e-mail account to conduct official State Department business,” Clinton’s lawyers wrote.

Clinton declined to provide any answer to two of the 25 questions Judicial Watch asked. Her lawyers said she was declining to answer a question about the dangers of using a BlackBerry not approved for classified information because the query went beyond the topics approved by the judge.

The former secretary also passed on a question about why she testified that 90 to 95 percent of her emails were in State Department systems. Her lawyers said the answer called for information protected by attorney-client privilege.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton commented briefly on Clinton’s response to the interrogatories with considerable understatement: “We’re pleased that we now have a little bit more information about Hillary Clinton’s email practices. Our lawyers will be reviewing the responses closely. Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to answer many of the questions in a clear and straightforward manner further reflects disdain for the rule of law.”

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