The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into whether text messages that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton sent while she was secretary of state breached government communication rules and protocols, department officials say.
“We have reason to believe Secretary Clinton might have compromised rules on correspondence by conducting State Department business via text messaging,” says an official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
According to the official, investigators are looking at three text messages sent on February 14, 2009. The texts are to an undisclosed foreign official and pertain to a meeting the two had been planning while Clinton was in the official’s country.
“You bring your big, fragrant sausage and I will bring the vino, OK?” Clinton texted her counterpart, “Is a Bordeaux gud or do u want something a little more . . . ‘xxxciting?'”
“What I want from u I cannot get from a bottle,” the foreign official replied.
“Haha,” Clinton said. “You never know.”
State Department officials say the exchange might have violated the department’s rules against bypassing official departmental correspondence when setting up meetings with foreign officials. “If we learn that this exchange was in fact about setting up an official meeting between the United States an an emissary of another country, as we believe it is, then it would be a breach of long-standing departmental restrictions on how such meetings are set up,” the official said. “Text messaging is not an official channel, and it’s not a secure channel.”
“Also, it is the policy of the federal government never to serve wine other than American wine at an official function, and a Bordeaux, by definition, cannot be an American wine,” the official said. “That would be another breach of rules.”
A potential third breach, about not sending official governmental communications with obvious spelling errors, would violate a departmental protocol, although that would be less serious for Clinton if it’s confirmed.
“We try not to make a big deal about spelling errors, because we know not everyone’s a good speller, but that’s why the State Department employs editors,” the official said. “If this series of messages is authenticated, it would mean Clinton bypassed official State Department editors and sent out official communications with obvious misspellings. The word ‘xxxciting,’ for example, is an obvious misspelling of ‘exciting’ and that would be a breach of rules, although it’s not something that would get her indicted or anything like that.”
A spokesperson for Clinton said the text messages represent private, unofficial business communications and the investigation is expected to reach that conclusion soon. “It’s unfortunate that this personal communication between two people who know each other well has been unfairly and inappropriately made public,” the spokesperson said. “Of course, Secretary Clinton is happy to cooperate with the review and looks forward to the finding that this correspondence violates no rules and will be found to be a routine, personal, and private communication. There is nothing here that is exciting, or even ‘xxxciting.’ Hillary Clinton assures the American people of that.”
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