The emails are clipped, harried and come in at all hours of the day. Someone needs approval for something. Someone else wants a meeting. The boss emails "pls print," asking a staffer to print out a document, when she could probably just as easily do it herself.
In other words, the emails fired back and forth between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department under Hillary Clinton are pretty much like the emails you see at your office all day long — assuming you work at a place where the requests are coming on behalf of the crown prince of Bahrain or a British soccer star with a criminal background, and the boss with the printer problem is the former first lady of the United States.
The type A personalities working for Bill and Hillary Clinton handled all of that on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes even they hit a wall. On May 27, 2009, a person working for the Irish rock star Bono emailed a request for help under the heading "Bono/NASA." The singer wanted to do a linkup with the International Space Station during his concert tour. Who was the right contact?
That one, the Clinton people couldn't handle. Bill Clinton's former key aide Doug Band emailed a terse reply: "No clue." Six hours later, a top aide of Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, also threw in the towel. But Bono eventually found what he was looking for. By July, Rolling Stone reported that year, his live set in Barcelona, Spain, included a live chat with the commander of the space station on a giant video screen.
All this is a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the global elite, but it goes beyond the mundane by the danger it poses to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Taken together, the emails released Monday by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch create the impression of a swirl of wealthy donors to the various Clinton charity initiatives who seemed to expect various favors from Hillary Clinton — requests that were often passed on to her team at the State Department. (The favors were not always granted, the emails show.)
The Clinton staffers themselves appeared to be concerned that they were treading on the ethical edge in co-mingling the requests of Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary Clinton's official business at the State Department. In one exchange, Abedin responded to a request from Band, "I got this now, makes me nervous to get involved but I'll ask." Band replied soon after, backing off: "Then don't."
The problem for the Clinton team is that this story will not go away. Clinton's decision to use a private email server instead of a government account and reluctance to turn over her entire correspondence to State Department staffers has led to a slow drip of email releases to the public, each one prompting a flurry of headlines and the scrutiny of reporters and the public. Monday's release came in the form of 725 pages of documents from Judicial Watch, resulting from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department requesting disclosure of Abedin's emails.
But Judicial Watch isn't the only group digging into Clinton's records. On Tuesday, Citizens United released 378 pages of new Clinton material, including a July, 2012 email from Huma Abedin noting that Clinton foundation donor Abigail Disney "keeps emailing hrc directly and is quite anxious to talk" about a proposal for discussing women's issues.
Also Monday, the conservative group released 173 pages of call logs from her former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. Those logs are records of messages that came pouring in for Mills throughout her workday. Every few minutes, the files list a new call. Questions about approving someone's travel to Brazil. Wealthy LGBT donors coming to Washington. Setting up an event with then CIA Director David Petraeus. One message says Bill Clinton is appearing in Chicago in an hour and has a question about how to handle an issue. Various messages are marked "please call" "Urgent," "becoming more urgent," and "URGENT."
Even worse, from Clinton's perspective, is the ongoing FBI investigation. A federal judge Monday ordered the State Department to speed up release of Clinton's emails and revealed that the FBI has obtained 15,000 new Clinton emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton's team originally turned over to the State Department.
All that means that the State Department, Judicial Watch and Citizens United will likely continue to release emails and documents from Clinton's tenure at State straight through Election Day, posing a risk that new evidence of favors done for donors could impact Clinton's approval ratings this fall.
And that's an urgent problem that Clinton's staffers appear to have no clue how to solve, either.
UDPATED: This story was updated to include news of Citizens United's Tuesday disclosures.