The stupid and untrue email claims – Part 1

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

John Kennedy, June 11, 1962, Yale Commencement Address

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Hillary Clinton is not playing Trump’s game of making her deny his false allegations.  He wants her to play on defense.   But I will.

Donald Trump stated the following:

“But you know, the deletion of 33,000 e-mails, boy, that just sort of is so out there, after receiving a subpoena from the United States government. She lied to Congress, she lied to the FBI, she made 13 phones disappear, some with a hammer. The Clinton crew gave more than $675,000 to the wife of the deputy director of the FBI and the man who was overseeing the investigation into Hillary’s illegal server.”

None of these statements are true.

Here is what factcheck.org has to say on the first claim.

Trump conflates and distorts three separate issues to make his Watergate comparison. Let’s take them in order.

“Hillary bleached and deleted 33,000 e-mails after receiving a congressional subpoena.”

Trump is referring to 31,830 emails that Clinton’s lawyers had deemed personal. These emails did not have to be turned over to the State Department, which in the summer of 2014 requested all work-related emails that the former secretary of state had in her possession. (See “A Guide to Clinton’s Emails.”)

The department’s policy allows its employees to determine which emails are work-related and must be preserved. “Messages that are not records may be deleted when no longer needed,” according to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (5 FAM 443.5). (See “Trump on the Stump.“)

That means Clinton was within her right to delete these emails, so that’s the first thing to know.

Now, Trump is right that these emails were deleted about three weeks after Clinton received a subpoena on March 4 from a Republican-controlled House committee investigating the 2012 deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. However, there is no evidence that she knew that the emails were deleted after the subpoena was issued.

According to the FBI’s investigative notes, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, in December 2014 told Platte River Networks that Clinton had preserved her work-related emails and “no longer needed access to any of her e-mails older than 60 days.” At that time, Mills instructed a PRN employee “to modify the e-mail retention policy” on Clinton’s server “to reflect this change.” That would automatically delete the old emails. But the PRN employee told the FBI that “he had an ‘oh shit’ moment” after learning about the subpoena sometime between March 25 and March 31, 2015, which is when he deleted Clinton’s emails. Clinton told the FBI that she was not aware that PRN deleted her emails in late March 2015, and the FBI did not say when she learned that they were deleted. (See “The FBI Files on Clinton’s Emails.”)

PRN used a free software program called BleachBit to delete the emails. That’s what Trump means when he says the emails were “bleached.” Other times he has said that Clinton “used chemicals” to “acid wash or bleach” her emails. That’s part of the deception, too. (See “Trump, Pence ‘Acid Wash’ Facts.”)

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—- Bottom line is there is no requirement that government employees retain personal emails after they leave service.  Also, there is zero evidence to support the allegation that Hillary Clinton ordered deletion of personal emails after receiving a subpoena from a Republican controlled House committee.   

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