The latest of Hillary Clinton's emails released Wednesday afternoon by the State Department offer the first glimpse into how she and her aides handled the evolving situation in Libya.
Most of the 3,849 emails date back to 2011, when the security situation in Libya was deteriorating and Clinton was leading an international charge to intervene in the conflict. The documents shed new light on how forcefully Clinton fought for the U.S. to become involved in the civil war there, but long stretches of time without any mention of the conflict revives questions about whether she turned over everything related to the crisis.
Huma Abedin, Clinton's deputy chief of staff, forwarded Clinton in April 2011 a lengthy description of the security situation in Libya and the whereabouts of Chris Stevens, the ambassador who was killed in the terror attack in Benghazi the following year.
The memo outlined the need to consider "resource constraints" when addressing threats to diplomatic security in the country.
In Aug. 2011, Jake Sullivan, Clinton's former director of policy planning, put together a detailed timeline of actions Clinton had taken to deepen U.S. involvement in the conflict.
"[T]his is basically off the top of my head," Sullivan wrote, but noted the list highlighted Clinton's "leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country's [L]ibya policy from start to finish."
Since the NATO intervention in Libya, of which Clinton was a major proponent, the country has become a stronghold for the Islamic State and has increasingly devolved into chaos.
The destabilization of Libya led to the rise of violence that ultimately spawned an attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012.
Clinton was receiving regular updates from staff on the ground about Benghazi and the formation of the Libyan government. In one email from Aug. 2011, a staff member called Stevens "heroic" for his work in Libya.
The former secretary of state also received advice about how to handle Libya from a variety of sources outside the State Department.
For example, James Rubin, executive editor of Bloomberg View, sent Clinton "some thoughts on Libya" in July 2011. Rubin told Clinton he hoped the memo would be "as welcome as last message," suggesting he shared ideas with Clinton more than once.
Sidney Blumenthal, a divisive confidante of Clinton's who served as an informal advisor on Libyan foreign policy, advised Clinton on how to take credit for the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator who was overthrown by rebels.
"[Y]ou should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation house," Blumenthal told Clinton on Aug. 22, 2011, shortly after rebels overran the capital city of Tripoli and deposed Gaddafi.
"You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment," Blumenthal added. "The most important phrase is: 'successful strategy.'"
Much of the information that was passed back and forth between Clinton and her aides was classified, however. The sensitive nature of the materials raises questions about why it would be classified today but not considered classified at the time, when a civil war was raging in the country and such information would have had actual implications for events on the ground.
For example, a readout of calls to members of the African Union about whether to freeze Libyan assets, sent to Clinton by Abedin, was classified.
Classified emails included a message from Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, about an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
The emergency meeting, which took place in Dec. 2010, was called by Russia in response to developments in North Korea. Most of the emails from Rice are redacted and classified.
Some conversations are so heavily classified that they are difficult to interpret. In one email chain about Pakistan, Clinton's messages to Sullivan are completely redacted, raising questions about her previous statements that she never sent any classified material.
The release of new emails Wednesday came amid intense scrutiny over recent developments that have cast doubt on Clinton's past statements.
One involved conflicting accounts of how and when the State Department asked Clinton to turn over her personal emails.
The State Department initially said it requested emails from Clinton as part of a routine housekeeping inquiry sent to all former secretaries.
Agency officials and Clinton herself suggested the State Department first contacted Clinton to ask about her emails in October of last year. Clinton said she responded quickly and thoroughly to the request, handing over a dozen boxes of documents in Dec. 2014.
But invoices obtained by Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's office indicated Clinton began paying a technology company to archive her private emails in February of last year —a full 10 months before she finally submitted them to the government.
The State Department soon acknowledged it had only reached out to Clinton after realizing the former secretary of state had never used an official email account. Agency officials were, at the time, combing through their records to find documents requested by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Clinton struggled to explain the discrepancies between her account and the new one provided by the State Department. Her campaign downplayed the significance of the reports, arguing the agency's explanation of the document request did not invalidate the one provided by Clinton.
The Democratic candidate faces additional questions about whether she gave the State Department all of her work-related emails. Clinton asserted she had handed over all official communications in a sworn declaration filed with the court Aug. 10.
An email chain provided to State by the Pentagon last week indicates Clinton may have withheld at least one record: a conversation between herself and Gen. David Petraeus, then the head of U.S. Central Command. The Jan. 2009 exchange was not included in the collection of emails Clinton provided to the State Department.
Sidney Blumenthal, a divisive confidante of Clinton's who served as an informal advisor on Libyan foreign policy, raised similar concerns when he gave the Benghazi committee 15 emails Clinton herself had never submitted.
Clinton has yet to explain the missing records beyond attributing a two-month gap in her emails to a "transition period," during which she said she lost all records.
Her campaign has repeatedly dismissed allegations that Clinton aides transmitted classified information on the private server network even though the intelligence community inspector general cited emails that should have been classified at the time they were written.
The State Department maintains that, for the hundreds of emails that have been classified, unrelated circumstances that developed over the past few years warranted retroactive classification in each case.
FBI investigators are looking into whether Clinton and her staff mishandled sensitive material on the private server, although Clinton's campaign has characterized the probe as a benign "security inquiry" and not a criminal investigation. Clinton has argued nothing she transmitted was marked classified when sent or received.
The FBI has recovered deleted emails off the server Clinton used to house her communications, fueling new speculation about whether Clinton erased emails that should have been submitted to the State Department. Investigators have refused to disclose details of their probe, rebuffing a court order earlier this month that would have forced the FBI to cooperate with the State Department in the search for missing emails.