A March 4, 2015 email from Hillary Clinton's friend and later campaign chairman John Podesta to Cheryl Mills queried as to whether to withhold email exchanges sent through Clinton’s private email server to President Obama.
The email was seemingly triggered by the House Benghazi Committee telling Clinton on March 1 to preserve and hand over all her emails. As CNSNews reports, “The FBI report on Clinton's emails notes on Page 18 that on March 3, 2015, the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi provided a letter to the law firm Williams & Connolly requesting the preservation and production of all documents and media related to the email addresses [email protected] and [email protected]”
Podesta wrote, "Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That's the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I(t) seems like they will."
Mills did not answer by email. The Clinton-Obama emails were released to the State Department, which later said they would remain private.
10 months later, at a State Department briefing, spokesman John Kirby reiterated that Clinton and Obama had exchanged emails. He added, “As they have also said previously, such presidential records shall remain confidential to protect the President’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel but will ultimately be released in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. … I can confirm that 18 emails comprised of eight distinct email chains between former Secretary Clinton and President Obama are being withheld in full from the State Department’s FOIA production today of...former Secretary Clinton’s emails.
The decision to withhold presidential correspondence from State’s Freedom of Information Act production of former Secretary Clinton’s emails was widely covered months ago. In response to a FOIA request, again, it is not unusual to deny or withhold a document in full. To be clear, the emails between then Secretary Clinton and President Obama have not been determined to be classified. They are entirely separate and distinct from the emails in today’s release that were upgraded to top secret, secret, or confidential, and I’m not going to speak again to the content of that email traffic."