Hillary Clinton — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks up to audience members as she leaves a campaign event at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo, Carolyn Kaster)
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Seven months after a federal judge ordered the State Department to begin releasing monthly batches of the detailed daily schedules showing meetings by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, the government told The Associated Press it won’t finish the job before Election Day.
The department has so far released about half of the schedules. Its lawyers said in a phone conference with the AP’s lawyers that the department now expects to release the last of the detailed schedules around Dec. 30, weeks before the next president is inaugurated.
The AP’s lawyers late Friday formally asked the State Department to hasten that effort so that the department could provide all Clinton’s minute-by-minute schedules by Oct. 15. The agency did not immediately respond.
The schedules drew new attention this week after the AP analyzed the ones released so far. The news agency found that more than half the people outside the government who met or spoke by telephone with Clinton while she was secretary of state had given money – either personally or through companies or groups – to the Clinton Foundation. The AP’s analysis focused on people with private interests and excluded her meetings or calls with U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives.
The AP’s reporting was based on official calendars covering Clinton’s entire term plus the more-detailed daily schedules covering roughly half her time as secretary of state. The AP first asked for Clinton’s calendars in 2010 and again in 2013. It then sued the State Department in federal court to obtain the detailed schedules, and the department so far has provided about half of them under court order.
Clinton has said the AP’s analysis was flawed because it did not account fully for all meetings and phone calls during her entire term as secretary. She also said the analysis should have included meetings with federal employees and foreign diplomats. The AP said it focused on her meetings with outsiders because those were more discretionary, as Clinton would normally meet with federal officials and foreign officials as part of her job.
Clinton said she met with people outside government regardless of whether they gave money or charitable commitments to her family’s charity.
“These are people I would be proud to meet with, as any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights,” Clinton said this week on CNN.
With the foundation drawing continued attention, Clinton promised Friday to put in place additional safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest with the charity should she win the White House.
The foundation issue, along with continued focus on her use of a private email server, has dogged Clinton politically throughout the week, drawing strong criticism from opponent Donald Trump.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller released a statement Friday night saying: “It is unacceptable that the State Department is now refusing to release her official schedule before the election in full. Voters deserve to know the truth before they cast their ballots.”
Former President Bill Clinton said last week that if she is elected president, the foundation will no longer accept foreign or corporate donations.
The State Department is now estimating there are about 2,700 pages of schedules left. Under its process, it is reviewing and censoring them page-by-page to remove personal details such as private phone numbers or email addresses. In some cases it has censored names of people who met privately with Clinton or the subjects they discussed.
A State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, declined to discuss the ongoing case and noted the agency is struggling with thousands of public records requests.
In court, the AP in December had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to order the State Department to produce specific percentages of the remaining schedules every 30 days under a formula so that all would be released before the presidential primary elections were complete.
Instead, because the State Department said it did not know how many pages were left, Leon ordered it in January to release at least 600 pages of schedules every 30 days. Each 600-page group covers about three months of Clinton’s tenure.
Under the present rate, a government attorney working on behalf of the State Department notified the AP’s lawyers, it will take about four and one-half months – or until Dec. 30 – to release all the remaining schedules through the end of Clinton’s term, in February 2013. The government’s notice late Thursday was the first time the State Department has provided the AP with a measure of how many pages were remaining and when it expected to complete the job.
It was unclear whether the judge will reconsider his earlier decision and order faster results. In the AP’s lawsuit over other Clinton-related files, Leon has said it would be “ridiculous” to allow the State Department to delay until even weeks before the election. He also cited “mounting frustration that this is a project where the State Department may be running out the clock.”
What is BleachBit? Little-known tool at center of Clinton email controversy
Trey Gowdy, a Republican congressman from South Carolina, looked to reignite criticism about Clinton’s handling of emails on a private server by saying her team used a software tool called BleachBit to have messages “deleted where even God can’t read them.”
“You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or for bridesmaids emails,” Gowdy said in an interview on Fox News Thursday. “When you are using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”
Clinton has said about 30,000 deleted emails were personal in nature.
However, BleachBit may not be quite as sinister as Gowdy makes it out to be. It’s one of many services you can download online to free up space on your computer by removing old unused files and clearing out internet history and cookies.
An advanced version of the service also offers an option for “shredding files to prevent recovery.”
“If you’re a business user looking for a truly free system cleaner, one interesting option is open-source, cross-platform BleachBit,” PCWorld wrote in a 2013 product review.
Jonathan Zdziarski, a computer security expert, characterized BleachBit as a fairly “amateur” tool that doesn’t raise any red flags.
“It looks like the type of tool someone would run who’s conscious of cleaning old crud off their system,” Zdziarski said. “Someone trying to cover their tracks would likely pay for and use a much more expensive, specialized data destruction tool.”
Andrew Ziem, the developer behind BleachBit, wrote in a blog post that the service “has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation.”
“BleachBit is free of charge to use in any environment whether it is personal, commercial, educational, and government, and the cleaning process is not reversible,” Ziem said in the poston BleachBit’s website.
That said, Ziem also noted that BleachBit’s web traffic “spiked” after Gowdy’s comments.
The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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