Top quirky things about life at State: Chinese carpets and ‘twittering’
WASHINGTON — The most recent batch of Hillary Clinton’s private emails made public by the State Department per court order revealed no smoking guns on controversies surrounding Benghazi or her relationship with Sidney Blumenthal. But it did show some curious details of life at the State Department, including how hard it can be to work a fax machine or stay in the loop about Cabinet meetings.
At one point, Clinton learns of a cabinet meeting from the radio — kind of.
“I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?” she asked top aide Huma Abedin and Lona Valmoro on June 8, 2009.
Turns out – it was just a meeting for agencies receiving stimulus funds.
“It is actually not a full cabinet meeting today — those agencies that received recovery money were invited to attend/participate. We were welcome to send a representative though, not sure if we have anyone going,” Valmoro responded.
Clinton chief-of-staff Cheryl Mills emailed a handful of State Department officials on June 2, 2009, very concerned about all the “Twittering.”
“Not Sure who is Twittering at (State),” she wrote as her subject line.
“But we should not be twittering in the Secretary’s name since she is not the person actually twittering. There is a reference in Newsweek to her twittering and says: Hillary Clinton Style: Dry info and offers 4,788 followers,” Mills continued. “Can you advise who is twittering in her name and how we can address?”
Alec Ross, dubbed Clinton’s “tech guru” at State, responded in kind.
“I do not believe there is Twittering in the Secretary’s name. The Twittering is from DipNote, the State Department’s Blog,” he wrote. “It will occasionally quote the Secretary but the Twittering should not be done in her name.”
How to fax
In one December 23, 2009, exchange, Clinton and Abedin struggle to get several “secure” faxes to work.
Abedin’s email subject line was “can you hang up the fax line, they will call again and try fax.”
“I thought it was supposed to be off hook to work?” Clinton responded.
Adedin asked Clinton to hang up once more so they “can re-establish the line.”
“I did,” Clinton said.
Abedin replied, “Just pick up phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up.”
“I’ve done it twice now,” Clinton said.
In one cryptic email to Abedin on July 6, 2009, Clinton writes simply, “I’m seeing Santa at 8:30 so won’t take off until closer to 9:30. Is that ok?”
It’s unclear who Santa is.
In August 2009, Clinton and aides discussed logistics of an interview for Oprah.
“Who will interview me?” Clinton asked. (It was Lisa Ling).
As they try and hammer out a time that works, it becomes clear Clinton’s availability is limited because of a planned vacation in the Hamptons.
“Not next week. Its why I asked cheryl to discuss with you because it meant interrupting your vacation which I wasn’t prepared to do,” Abedin wrote.
“If the Oprah team want to come out here and one of our friends is willing to let us use their house out here this Monday, I would do that,” Clinton said at one point.
Abedin was able to secure a time and the two plan to hold the interview in someone’s Hampton home, though their name is redacted.
“Oprah can do monday in the hamptons. You could just use (xxx) house. Its close and will have good spaces to use,” Abedin said.
Bill Clinton helps with edits
Husband and former president Bill Clinton has a hand in her speeches it turns out. Discussing edits on an upcoming speech to aide Cheryl Mills on July 12, 2009, Clinton wrote, “I am nearly done w my editing (along w Bill’s).”
With the subject line “Don’t laugh,” Clinton asked an aide on December 15, 2009, about some carpets she saw when meeting with then-Chinese President Hu Jintao.
“Can you contact your protocol friend in China and ask him if I could get photos of the carpets of the rooms I met in w POTUS during the recent trip? I loved their designs and the way they appeared carved. Any chance we can get this?” Clinton asked.
CNN’s Robert Yoon, Rachel Streitfeld, Dan Merica, Elise Labott, Jeff Zeleny, Eric Feigel, Eric Bradner and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.
By Rebekah Metzler