How Hillary Clinton's team found the 30,490 emails she handed over

How Hillary Clinton's team found the 30,490 emails she handed over

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Clinton-email
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her mobile phone after her address to the Security Council at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 12, 2012.

Image: Richard Drew/Associated Press

Searching through inboxes isn’t easy.

And so the struggle was real for Hillary Clinton’s lawyers, who were tasked with searching through more than 60,000 emails to determine which were legit “federal records” of interest to the State Department — and which were random dispatches about yoga.

This, Clinton’s office explained on Tuesday in a Q&A emailed to reporters, “entailed a multi-step process” that erred on the side of including anything and everything that someone might consider to be a federal record.

Here’s how that process worked, according to the document:

Step one: Clinton’s team conducted a basic search on the former Secretary of State’s email account looking for all emails she sent and received from March 18, 2009 through February 1, 2013, her last day in office.

Step two: Next, they searched for any and all “.gov” emails addresses, producing more than 27,500 emails. That, Clinton’s team says, represented more than 90% of the 30,490 emails that were eventually sent to the State Department per its request, totaling roughly 55,000 pages.

Step three: Just to be sure they weren’t missing any government-related correspondence in the email search, they then searched for the names of more than 100 officials, including, her office says, “Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Ambassadors-at-Large, Special Representatives and Envoys, members of the Secretary’s Foreign Policy Advisory Board, and other senior officials to the Secretary, including close aides and staff.”

Step four: After a cursory search “to account for non-obvious or non-recognizable email addresses or misspellings or other idiosyncrasies,” the team looked for various terms that might be of special interest to the State Department or various committees — like “Benghazi.”

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“Like Secretaries of State before her, Secretary Clinton used her own email account when engaging with State Department officials,” her office said in the emailed Q&A. “For work, it was her practice to email them on their “.gov” accounts, with every expectation those emails would be captured and preserved immediately in the Department’s system.”

“She is proud of the work that she and the public servants at the Department did during her four years as Secretary of State and looks forward to people being able to see that for themselves,” they said.

Clinton has called on the State Department to release those emails, though it’s unclear when — and how many — the public will see.

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