Hillary's Last Email Is For Insiders Only

The latest round of emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state has been released, and it’s just as non-incriminating as the last six batches. The most recent collection includes humorous asides from Clinton to her aides, the not-so-surprising revelation that she’s a fan of Homeland, and one piece that’s slightly more historic than the others: The last email Clinton received during her time in the State Department.

“Our beloved 67th Secretary of State has departed the building for the final time in her tenure,” the email reads. “After almost a million miles, thousands of bilats, meetings and phone calls, hundreds of pre-briefs, camera sprays, press avails, photo ops, pullasides, clutches, huddles, and drop-bys, not to mention the scores of interviews and townterviews (I have never liked that word!) receptions and dinners, HRC's time here at State has come to an end."

Claire Coleman, Clinton’s office manager, sent this farewell message to the State Department staff on Clinton’s last day as secretary. It contains a lot of weird phrases, like “camera sprays” and “townterviews,” that may not be familiar to, well, anyone who doesn’t work in government. Let’s try to figure out what some of the more obscure ones mean.

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  • thousands of bilats — This most likely refers to bilateral meetings, which are discussions between representatives of two different countries. Needless to say, Clinton had a lot of those during her time at the State Department.
  • hundreds of pre-briefs — A “pre-brief” is basically when you’re given an overview of an activity — a meeting, say — before it happens. It’s unclear why this word exists, though, as “brief” accomplishes roughly the same linguistic task.
  • camera sprays — This could refer to one of two things: the moment when a bunch of reporters swarm a politician and deluge them with photographs, or a substance that’s applied to a camera lens in order to clean it.
  • press avails — Not surprisingly, this is short for “press availability,” which is when a famous person makes themselves available to the media in some capacity (at a press conference, for example).
  • pullasides — You know what this means. It’s when somebody summons somebody else for a private conversation in public, which probably happens to Clinton every time she leaves the house.
  • clutches — Well, I’m stumped. Is Coleman referring to a small handbag? The device that activates the transmission in a manual car? A collection of bird eggs? Is she talking about “coming through in the clutch?” This remains a mystery.
  • townterviews — Even Coleman admits that she doesn’t like this word. It’s really just a fancy term for a town hall meeting, in which a politician and voters all get into a room, and the voters ask them questions.
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The message closes with one more obscure phrase — "We will always have your six!" which means "we've got your back" — and then a request that Clinton "get some rest." Clinton said before she stepped down that she was looking forward to sleeping in, so she most likely took that advice to heart.