Clinton email instructs aide to strip possible 'classified' heading and send document over non-secure fax

When this story first broke yesterday, it appeared that a smoking gun email had been found among the thousands of documents released by the State Department on New Year's Eve.

A June 2011 email thread includes instructions from then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Jake Sullivan, a close aide, to strip the headings from what could be a classified email and send over a non-secured fax network.

Much of the email is redacted, so we are unable to determine whether the information was classified.  But what's certain is that the email was on a secured server and Clinton ordered Sullivan to send over a non-secured fax.


In a June 2011 email exchange, Clinton told her top policy staffer Jake Sullivan to send a talking points document — which was scheduled to be forwarded over State’s secured network — over a nonsecure fax line after "stripping" some information from them. The messages were included in a large batch of Clinton emails released around 2 a.m. Friday morning.

Her instructions came after staffers said they were having problems with the secure fax machine and therefore couldn’t get Clinton the documents she was asking for.

“If they can't, turn into nonpaper [with] no identifying heading and send nonsecure," Clinton wrote. "Non-paper" is a diplomatic term for a discussion draft or memo that does not represent the official position of a government or negotiator..

Republicans on the Hill pounced.

“You don’t get to send classified information through unsecured means simply because you’re having technological problems with the secured system,” said House Intelligence Committee member Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.), who also sits on the House Benghazi panel. “It is not permissible to communicate classified information via unsecured means simply because one’s secure means of communication are temporarily not functioning.”

Pompeo acknowledged he did not know the contents of the documents in question, or if they were indeed classified, but he said it would be “highly unusual to send an unsecured document on a secured network,” which he said suggests the message was likely classified.

But it's not quite the open and shut case that it appears to be – at least, according to the State Department and the Clinton campaign.  The key question is whether Clinton is instructing Sullivan to violate the law and change "classified" headings to unclassified.

The campaign in a statement Friday said Clinton would do no such thing.

"It is false that Hillary Clinton asked for classified material to be sent over a nonsecure system," said spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement.

And State Department spokesman John Kirby said officials see no indication the document was ever sent to the email account Clinton used, which was hosted on a private server.

“We did do some forensics on that and found no evidence it was actually emailed to her,” Kirby said at a daily news briefing on Friday. “We have found no indication that the document was emailed to former Secretary Clinton. There are other ways it could have found its way to her for her use.”

Kirby also said the fact that the talking points were initially set to be sent via a secure system did not necessarily mean they were classified.

It's interesting that State performed "some forensics" on this particular email and were ready with a response, isn't it?

A State Department official told Fox News in August that somebody had to have scrubbed the "classified" designation from the emails.

But a State Department official told Fox News that the intelligence community inspector general, who raised the most recent concerns about Clinton’s emails, made clear that at least one of those messages contained information that only could have come from the intelligence community.

“If so, they would have had to come in with all the appropriate classification markings,” the official said.

The official questioned whether someone, then, tampered with that message. “[S]omewhere between the point they came into the building and the time they reached HRC’s server, someone would have had to strip the classification markings from that information before it was transmitted to HRC’s personal email.” (Emphasis added)

The official said doing so would “constitute a felony, in and of itself.

The State Department says this particular email did not end up on Hillary's server and was apparently never sent.  But it's the intent that matters as far as the commission of a felony is concerned.

This email involves the former secretary of state in a conspiracy to break the law.  As Bill Jacobson writes, "[a]t this point, if Hillary is not indicted for conspiracy it’s because someone at DOJ doesn’t want her indicted. Or maybe they’re still waiting for State Department employees to flip on her."

Clinton's wiggle room is fast disappearing.

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