Hillary Clinton is in hot water again this week after it was discovered that the former secretary of state may not have been as forthcoming about messages she sent early in her tenure as previously represented. According to State Department officials, an early email chain between Clinton and David Petraeus, then the commander of United States Central Command, from between Jan. 10 to Feb. 1, 2009 contradicted the 2016 Democratic candidate’s claim that she had not retained emails from her first two months of office. State Department officials said that the Defense Department had turned over the string of 10 or so emails over “the last several days.”
“If indeed this is a sign the stonewalling and political protection effort that was previously being run by the [State] Department is diminishing, the committee welcomes it,” said Jamal Ware, spokesman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, in a statement to Reuters on Saturday. “The proof will be in the production.”
Earlier this year, after turning over some 30,000 work-related emails pulled from a private email server the former secretary had used during her time at the department, Clinton claimed that she had used a personal BlackBerry email account to conduct business prior to setting up her now-notorious “clintonemail.com” account in March 2009, and was therefore unable to produce any emails from before then.
So far, officials have said the the email chain consisted mainly of casual conversation between Clinton and Petraeus, who had just become acquainted with one another. CNN also reported that the chain contained a few personal details as well, although officials claimed that the messages did not involve any confidential material whatsoever.
With the newly discovered string of messages, however, that assertion is under fire, compounding a difficult week for the embattled Democratic candidate, who has slipped behind rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in key states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, according to several CBS News/YouGov and Quinnipiac polls.
On Friday, following the discovery of 925 additional overlooked emails, State Department officials told The Daily Beast that at least a few contained information that was related to Libya, although they did not specify further.
“Following our second review of former Secretary Clinton’s emails … the Department is producing a small number of emails relating to Benghazi,” a senior State Department official told the outlet, reportedly characterizing the number as a “handful.” According to the official, the majority of the Libya-related emails were not in any way connected to the Benghazi scandal.
The new reports could take a toll on Clinton’s standing in the polls, despite the fact that few of the newly discovered emails contained any sensitive information: A Quinnipiac University poll released in late August showed that the Democratic candidate’s trustworthiness had plummeted with prospective voters, even after aggressive rebranding and a 2016 campaign based on humanizing the former FLOTUS. According to the poll, over 60 percent of prospective voters said that she was not “honest or trustworthy”; in an open-ended question, many voters said that they associated words like “liar” and “dishonest” to Clinton’s campaign as well.
If Clinton can’t get out in front of her “Emailgate” problems, the least her camp can do is own up to the mistakes as they’re discovered — until that time, it seems that the former secretary of state is destined to nosedive in the polls indefinitely.