Hillary Clinton hasn’t had a government job since 2013 when she left Barack Obama’s State Department, but she apparently had her government security clearance until August 30, 2018 and only lost it then because she requested it be withdrawn. From the Hill:
The State Department—in a letter dated Sept. 21 but publicly released Friday— told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that the security clearance was revoked on August 30 after Clinton requested that it be withdrawn…
The State Department added in the letter to Grassley that five of Clinton’s aides had also had their security clearance revoked.
Four of the names are redacted but one aide listed in the email is Cheryl Mills, who worked as Clinton’s chief of staff.
“As we previously informed the committee, these individuals had been granted access to classified information through a request made by Secretary Clinton designating them as researchers,” Faulkner added.
The letter itself has a paragraph near the end specifically asking that Grassley’s committee not release the letter or the information in it without giving the Department of State a chance to point out things which should not be made public. The Hill reports it’s not clear if Grassley heeded their wishes in this case or simply released the letter on his own. The fact that four names of Clinton’s “researchers” are redacted suggests maybe he did have a conversation with State but I don’t know for certain.
This raises two question: First, why did Clinton still have a clearance in the first place? That seems to be a matter of Washington tradition that people who have served in top jobs retain their clearance in subsequent administration so they can be called upon for advice or drafted into service quickly if needed. Hillary, as a former Secretary of State, would fall under this institutional habit.
The second question is why Hillary would request to have her clearance revoked in August. On that point, I think the timing is suggestive. Remember that mid-August is when Trump announced he was revoking the security clearance of John Brennan. That move was clearly prompted by Brennan’s habit of spiking the football on Trump’s tweets. When Allahpundit wrote about this in August he noted that this tweet may have been the last straw and I think he’s right:
It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation. https://t.co/eI9HaCec1m
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 14, 2018
So my guess, and that’s all it is, is that Hillary decided to jump before she was pushed. Probably a smart move if you think about it. She didn’t want Trump to go on a stemwinder at his next rally talking about revoking her security clearance and connecting that to her private email server, so she asked for it to be revoked herself.
It’s worth noting that having a security clearance doesn’t mean you have access to classified information, it just means you could be given access if someone in the government found a reason to show you something. My own view is that people like Clinton and Brennan, who’ve been doing this for decades, probably have a lot of friends in high places who are prepared to give them a heads up on anything they might want to know. Maybe I’m wrong about that but it seems hard to believe that the goings-on inside the State Department are now a black box of mystery to the former Secretary. And the fact that she’s married to a former president just multiplies the odds that she has plenty of people willing to share information with her.
Still, this seems long overdue. Hillary should have lost her clearance the moment Comey announced she’d been extremely careless with classified information.