The State Department on Friday released nearly 300 of Hillary Clinton’s emails, which reveal new details about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
The emails offer greater detail about the former secretary of state’s communications in 2011 and 2012 surrounding the events in Benghazi. However, the emails will only tell part of the story, since they do not cover Clinton's in-person communications with her staff. The former secretary of state noted in testimony before a Senate committee in 2013 that she was in her office with staff late into the night as the events in Benghazi were playing out.
Clinton first released roughly 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department last year, and requested they be made public.
Those released Friday include what appears to be the last email sent to Clinton's office by Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Stevens was among those who later died in the attack on the embassy.
The email, dated July 7, 2012, was a response to an email from one of Clinton’s top advisers, Jake Sullivan. Sullivan started the email exchange with Stevens by sharing information from a “source," who detailed the atmosphere surrounding the July election in Libya and the transition to a popularly elected government after the fall of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In other comments that Sullivan shared with Stevens, the source -- whom other emails in Friday's release confirm to be Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House adviser -- describes Libya's shifting political circumstances as a “chaotic situation.”
In his response to Sullivan, Stevens detailed a tour of Libya's new parliament building with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and described the interim government as weak. However, he also characterized the atmosphere in Tripoli, Libya, as “festive.”
"The gov’t declared today a holiday and people are driving around honking and waving flags and making peace sign gestures,” Stevens wrote. “We visited several polling stations where we found people patiently waiting in lines (gender segregated) McCain was applauded and thanked for his support wherever we went.”
Sullivan forwarded that email to Clinton. A number of the emails are similar, in that they are exchanges between Clinton’s top advisers and those on the ground in Libya and other levels of government that were then forwarded to Clinton herself.
Clinton addressed the release of the emails at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday.
"The State Department had the vast majority of those anyway because they went to what are called.gov accounts," she said. "I'm aware the FBI has asked a portion of one email be held back that happens in the process of Freedom of Information Act Responses, but that doesn't change the fact that all of the information in the email was handled appropriately."
Clinton added that she hopes the department will release more "as soon as possible."
"I understand there is a certain protocol that has to be followed. They are following that. These that are being released today have been in the committee jurisdiction, they were given to the committee some months ago and now finally those are getting released," she said.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement that the released emails "continue to reinforce the fact that unresolved questions and issues remain as it relates to Benghazi."
State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement that the emails "do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks," which she said first became known nearly two and half years ago.
CORRECTION: This story previously misstated that Clinton released 55,000 emails to the State Department. It was 55,000 pages of emails.
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