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Hillary Clinton emails: Kissinger, Photoshop and 'Texts from Hillary'

Hillary Clinton's Benghazi testimony in 3 minutes
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Story highlights

  • The State Department released 5,500 pages of Hillary Clinton emails Thursday, fewer than the 8,000 it was originally expected to release
  • It has been ordered to release all of Clinton's work-related emails by Judge Rudolph Contreras as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit

(CNN)The State Department on Thursday afternoon released new emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the tranche was smaller than required for this month.

"We have worked diligently to come as close to the goal as possible, but with the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule we have not met the goal this month," the State Department said in a statement to reporters Thursday morning.
    The State Department was supposed to release over 8,000 pages of emails Thursday -- 16% of Clinton's total available emails -- but released approximately 5,500. Additional emails will be released "sometime next week," the department said.
    Here's a sampling of what you'll find in the final email dump of 2015:

    Mark Penn suggested HRC 'consider resigning' after Obama's 'more flexibility' hot mic moment

    During a meeting at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, President Barack Obama was caught on a live mic telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate sensitive issues, like missile defense, "after my election."
    The content of their discussion was quickly transmitted around the world, eventually making its way to Clinton by way of an enraged former aide and longtime pollster Clinton family pollster Mark Penn.
    "This could be about the stupidest thing ever said by a president in foreign policy," Penn wrote in an email to Clinton, then suggesting she "consider resigning" if the kerfuffle compromised her politically.
    "What is this referring to?" a puzzled Clinton asked, forwarding Penn's message to foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, who explained the situation, adding a dose of calm: "It is not good -- at all," he writes, "but I think Mark may be pushing it a bit far."

    'You look cute'

    When a photo Hillary Clinton went viral -- "The Texts from Hillary" meme, which repeatedly featured an image of her wearing sunglasses and thumbing away on her Blackberry -- all chief of staff Cheryl Mills said was, "You look cute."
    Clinton was tipped to the viral hit in an April 5, 2012 email from Russell Potter, a State staffer, who wrote "Not sure if you're aware of this and its recent 'life' on Facebook. "Seems everyone is posting it."
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli, on October 18, 2011.  AFP PHOTO/KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL (Photo credit should read KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
    Clinton replied later "Why now? That was on way to Libya?"
    Clinton later rode the hit to some fame but also saw it used by opponents after it was discovered she had been using a private email server.

    Who gets to ride with Hillary?

    As flow charts and organizational structures go, perhaps none was as important as the one top Clinton aide Philippe Reines set up to determine who rides with the former secretary of state.
    Looking like it was punched up on a MS-DOS word processor, it starts with one simple question: "Is Huma here?" and ends, more than a page later with the ever-important question of whether Reines himself gets in with Clinton.
    And if Reines is already in the limo/SUV? "Chutzpah!"
    And when nobody showed him any love, Reines sent it around again to show how much work he put into it.
    "I did NOT/NOT receive sufficient appreciation for the below. Only Jake reacted. It took HOURS to get the formatting right. Literally hours to ensure it would work on every size font," Reines wrote. "Without positive reinforcement I'm not sure I can continue to really invest myself in these missives/diatribes."
    Sullivan forwarded the chart to Clinton with just one line "See below."

    Kissinger gets impatient

    For anyone out there thinking it takes too long to declassify old State Department email, you've got a friend in Henry Kissinger.
    The former secretary of state and top foreign policy adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford wrote to Clinton in February 2012 complaining that, despite having paid $150,000 to have his files digitized in an effort to to "accelerate" the process, "that has clearly not happened."
    "Let me show you the magnitude of the problem" he continued. "Jeff Smith has been advised by the National Declassification Center that, of the 559,679 pages I donated and are on the RAC, the State Department has responsibility to review 259,402 pages. Of that total, the Department has declassified only three pages (yes, three) that are ready for public release."

    'Why is being on a cruise ship a dangerous or difficult situation!'

    In one chain from 2011, Clinton and senior aide Sullivan seem to mock an American citizen stranded in Egypt after the embassy closed amid escalating protests.
    Clinton was forwarded excerpts from an interview that vacationer Laura Murphy gave to CNN, in which the latter woman called U.S. response "grossly insufficient" and "quoted the ambassador as saying, 'You're on a lovely cruise ship, I suggest you stay there.'"
    "What's this about?" Clinton asks.
    "Dissatisfaction by (American citizens) with our support in helping them leave," Sullivan says in his response, suggesting the State Department send out a "good comms person."
    "Agreed," says Clinton. "But, why is being on a cruise ship a dangerous or difficult situation!"
    "A fine question!" Sullivan replies.
    Murphy was stranded on a river cruise that had been anchored in Luxor after the captain was warned that stops along the Nile could be dangerous for tourists.
    Murphy wasn't the only person on the cruise to express frustration.
    PBS travel-show host Regina Fraser told CNN at the time that the U.S. embassy transferred her call for assistance to an automated message, which advised her to go to their website -- this despite the fact that she had no Internet access."

    'Good info, sadly'

    Here's an inside look at some delicate negotiations between the administration and the New York Times over new details emerging from Benghazi in the days after the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack.
    Following what appears to be some high level back-and-forth, at least one official seems to shrug and concede a disputed story is going to be published. Why's that? The emailer concedes that the reporter "had good info, sadly."

    Who's the "biggest jerk" in all of foreign service?

    Of the many notes and memos Sidney Blumenthal passed Clinton, this one may carry the greatest insight but with the clawing realization the world will never find out who is one of the "biggest jerks" in diplomacy.
    Blumenthal passed along this advice from John Kornblum, who was an ambassador to Germany under Bill Clinton:
    "'Just for the record, if she does not already know it, (redacted) is one of the biggest jerks in the foreign service. Not only can he not get along with people or think clearly on anything, he also went totally over to the dark side during the Bush administration. He is in a league with (redacted) on this one. He once literally shouted me down at a conference where I suggested the Bush administration was hurting U.S. relations with Europe.'"

    Team Clinton speculates over Obama hit

    It was summer of 2010 and Democrats were getting anxious — rightfully, as it turned out — about the coming midterm elections. In a Financial Times story, one unnamed White House adviser put the onus on the President himself.
    "I never thought I would say this, but even I'm unsure what President Obama really believes," the individual is quoted as telling reporter Henry Luce. "Instead of outsourcing decisions to Congress, he should spell out his bottom line. That is what leaders are for."
    In an email flagging this to Clinton, while piling scorn on top Obama political aide David Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Blumenthal suggested Tom Daschle and John Podesta as potential sources.
    "Why do you think it might be Daschle?" Clinton asks. "Or Podesta?"
    We don't see his response, but we do know this: Podesta is currently the chairman of Clinton's presidential campaign.

    Clinton reaction to being photo-shopped out of Situation Room pic

    Remember when Der Tzitung, a Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper, photoshopped Clinton out of that now-famous photo of a packed White House Situation Room during the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound?
    Clinton was on that story early, apparently reading about it on a blog, which cited an item in the Jerusalem Post, and not pleased.
    They'd done it, she told her aides, "perhaps because no woman should be in such a place of power or that I am dressed immodestly!!"
    Then, signing off drolly, Clinton writes:
    "And so, Happy Mother's Day."

    What's confidential and what's not

    The emails released on Thursday included 275 that had been upgraded in whole or part to "classified," and redacted accordingly, a State Department official told CNN.
    However, the official added that none of the emails contained information that was classified at the time they were sent of received -- something Clinton has repeatedly emphasized as she campaigns for the presidency.
    Most of those emails were upgraded to the lowest classified level, "Confidential," but two were upgraded to the higher level of "Secret."

    Why are we getting these emails now

    The State Department was ordered to release all of Clinton's work-related emails by Judge Rudolph Contreras as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by journalist Jason Leopold. The case came after it was revealed that Clinton used a private email server to conduct official business while leading the department.
    In May, Contreras ordered the State Department to "aspire to abide" to a monthly production schedule, releasing specified numbers of emails at the end of each month up until January 29, 2016.
    While the schedule is aspirational, the department must also submit reports each month to explain its progress. State Department attorneys will therefore have to explain the failure to meet the December quota in a filing to Contreras next week.