Emails: Behind the scenes with Clinton

Where does Hillary Clinton Stand?

On April 12, 2015 former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her run for President of the United States. Find out where the democratic candidate stands on immigration, ISIS, the minimum wage and gay marriage. Video by Natalie
Up Next
On April 12, 2015 former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her run for President of the United States. Find out where the democratic candidate stands on immigration, ISIS, the minimum wage and gay marriage. Video by Natalie

She worries about being excluded from meetings.

She looks forward to a few days away from the office to catch up on sleep and her favorite TV shows, “The Good Wife” and “Parks and Recreation.”

She’s constantly in search of someone to explain the latest technology to her, whether it’s how to use her new iPad or create a smiley face emoji on her BlackBerry.

The portrait of Hillary Clinton that emerges from her tens of thousands of recently released emails — including 7,825 pages of emails released Monday — is different from what people see on TV. More than her stump speeches and campaign events, her emails from her term as secretary of state often show how one of the most scrutinized women in the world behaves when she thinks only trusted friends and aides are tuning in.

“This travel gig is never ending — can’t wait for Thanksgiving for a few days off,” Clinton writes Nov. 4, 2009, from Cairo to a friend.

The emails do not show how she made specific decisions — much of that was likely done in person or by phone. And they do not include thousands she deleted that she said were entirely personal. These are being released as required by a lawsuit.

At least 999 emails that Clinton sent or received, out of 34,626 pages of emails released so far, contained classified material, according to the State Department’s latest update from its ongoing review.

Those that are being opened up are full of the mundane logistics such as a schedule of conversations with foreign leaders and talking points for speeches and meetings. But they also include tidbits that show her personality. She’s often forgetful (she can’t keep track of her daily schedule). She has a dry sense of humor that doesn’t always take diplomacy into account. She has outside activities, such as decorating her house. And she tries to keep up with politics in what is supposed to be a non-political job.

Clinton was often looking for additional information, accepting of unsolicited advice and asking to be more involved. 

“I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am,” Clinton wrote to aides at 5:52 a.m. June 8, 2009. “Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?”

Clinton is constantly looking for help with new technology.

She wants to know how LinkedIn works after getting a request to connect on the website. She struggles repeatedly with how to receive a fax. And after receiving a new Blackberry, she emailed aides on April 3, 2012. “Here’s my question,” she said, “on this new berry can I get smiley faces?”

On Dec. 1, 2009, she asks Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills to lend her a copy of the book, “Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.”  

Clinton could be short with her staff when something didn’t go correctly.

After showing up for a meeting at the White House June 12, 2009, only to find out it was canceled, she wrote her aides. “This is the second time this has happened,” she wrote. “What’s up???”

But she also offers staffers birthday or holiday wishes, plans get togethers with friends or helps a stranger.

Please wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm.

Clinton to longtime adviser John Podesta

As she prepared for a trip to India and Thailand, Clinton wrote to Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff and policy adviser a note on July 16, 2009: “Jake _ i told you yesterday, but it bears repeating _ you’re doing a wonderful job. Not just on the speech, but all the work to establish and implement the priorities it represents. I’m very grateful _ Hillary”

Clinton emailed a staffer on Aug. 28, 2009, to ask if the department could do something for a 10-year-old Yemeni girl who she had met and later saw on CNN talking about her unhappy life. “Is there any way we can help her?” she wrote. “Could we get her to the US for counselling and education?”

Yet the emails also show that she is trying to carve out time for herself.

On Dec. 2, 2009, as she prepared for another trip, she emailed aides to ask if she could make it to a 7 p.m. concert at a nearby school. “Can I get there?” she asked.

Will we receive them this Fall? How can I buy some for personal use?

Clinton about New York apples

In an email with the subject line “Don’t Laugh,” Clinton asks for information about rugs she had seen at a meeting with the Chinese president. “Can you contact your protocol friend in China and ask him if I could get photos of the carpets of the rooms?” she wrote to an aide.  

She often makes fun of herself.

In a Dec. 30, 2010, email, Clinton writes to aides about a bank robber wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. “Should I be flattered? Even a little bit?” she asks.

Must be the Chinese!

Clinton to an aide when an email address disappears from her list of contacts

After Rep. Diane Watson announces her retirement, Clinton wants to call her but is unable to call directly after the operator doesn’t believe she is who she says she is. “I just hung up and am calling thru Ops like a proper and properly dependent Secretary of State _no independent dialing allowed,” Clinton wrote an aide Feb. 10, 2010.

Her reputation remained important to her and her aides knew it. They warned her of potentially damaging articles, devised strategies to fight unflattering portrayals and passed on polls of her approval ratings.

On Nov. 5, 2009, Clinton emailed an aide to ask for a correction after an article indicated how much she outspent a Republican opponent by during her Senate campaign nine years earlier. “Which is so misleading since he had a less than five month campaign,” she writes.

In a Dec 13, 2009, email to an aide, Clinton expresses concern about participating in a joint interview with her predecessor Henry Kissinger because of their differing relationships with the presidents they served.

“I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon everyday,” she said. “Do you see this as a problem?”

Clinton email inquiry

Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account routed through a private server while secretary of state.

The FBI launched an inquiry this summer into the handling of sensitive information after classified information was found in emails transmitted over Clinton’s server.

The inspectors general of the State Department and intelligence community have said that some contained classified information when they were generated, but they were not marked that way at the time.

Related stories from McClatchy DC