As the number of classified Hillary Clinton emails grew to nearly 1,000, they also reveal how freely she and her staff shared information on the Benghazi attacks, including confirming the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens – and even celebrating her controversial hearing appearance where she asked, “What difference, at this point, does it make” what led to the attacks.
The emails were part of the largest release yet of Clinton documents from the State Department.
The batch contained 328 emails deemed to have classified information. According to the State Department, that brings the total number with classified information to 999.
That alone drew outrage from Republicans, with the RNC saying the sheer number of emails with classified material “underscores the degree to which Hillary Clinton jeopardized our national security and has tried to mislead the American people.”
But the document dump also potentially creates more problems for Clinton in her attempt to move past the fallout from the Benghazi attacks.
Notably, the emails show her aides congratulating her after her initial January 2013 testimony on the attacks before Congress. During that hearing, she got into a dispute with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., over the conflicting narratives about the motivation for the attack and what preceded it – the State Department had come under fire for initially pointing to a protest over an anti-Islam film. Clinton told Johnson, expressively, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
During and after the hearing, aides forwarded Clinton congratulatory messages.
“I’m being flooded with emails about how you rocked,” deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin wrote. “And you looked fabulous.” One supporter wrote a message with the subject line: “twitterverse abuzz with Hillary-kvelling,” using the Yiddish word for gushing praise.
Later, though, political consultant Mark Penn sent an email to Clinton gently suggesting that perhaps it wasn’t wise to lose her temper in the hearing. Penn suggested Republicans could use that moment as evidence that they had rattled her.
Aide Philippe Reines leaped to Clinton’s defense, writing:
“Give Me A Break. You did not look rattled. You looked real. There’s a difference. A big one.”