Hillary Clinton's life is exhausting. Even reading Clinton's schedule is exhausting. I know, because I did it — I read every page of Clinton's State Department schedule from early 2009 through the middle of 2011 when she was secretary.
That's right, 3,721 pages of Clinton's daily routine, which, taken together, reveal a surprisingly intimate portrait of the life of the Democratic nominee for president.
The schedules were released by the State Department as a result of FOIA requests and subsequent litigation by conservative group Citizens United, and obtained by CNBC. The pages are often redacted by State Department officials, who have removed details on certain meetings, events and phone calls citing personal privacy, national security or other exemptions to disclosure.
Still, the documents reveal the moments that made Clinton's life in Washington in those years — her daily commute to work (a zippy 10 minutes from her northwest Washington home) and her Friday evening slogs on the US Airways shuttle to LaGuardia Airport to get to the home she and Bill Clinton maintain in Chappaqua, New York. The faces she saw every day, especially the ones who are so familiar they are simply referenced by first name: Huma (Abedin), Lona (Valmoro), Cheryl (Mills), Maggie (Williams), and Jake (Sullivan). The principals, Hillary and Bill Clinton, are simply referred to by their initials: HRC and WJC.
Each detail was recorded by staff — including where Hillary and Bill Clinton slept (sometimes together at their homes in Chappaqua and Washington, but quite often a continent or more apart.) It's a constant stream of meetings, briefings, conference calls with foreign ministers, sessions in the White House situation room, meticulously scheduled but officially informal "pull-aside" meetings with prime ministers, foreign ministers and senators. All of it choreographed minute-by-minute: At the memorial event, adjust the wreath, take two steps back, observe a moment of silence. HRC and Huma ride together in the limo, Cheryl rides in staff car #1.
In Manhattan, it is a 15 minute walk from the stage where Dutch Princess Maxima will make her remarks at the Helmsley Hotel to the UN's North Lawn building on 47th Street, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will make his remarks. The diplomatic dance of determining who gets access and who does not: Billionaire George Soros gets a half-hour meeting in the secretary's office. The CEO of Boeing gets a drop by in the outer office. Ben Affleck gets a sit-down. Here's what I learned.
Particularly billionaire Mort Zuckerman, who owns the New York Daily News and shows up in Clinton's calendar several times, including the 35 minutes he spent with Clinton in her office on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. On Monday, Oct. 26, 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates came by for a 50-minute session. Billionaire and former Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill got a half hour appointment on June 2, 2010, along with his chief of staff, Mike Conway.
Warren and Susie Buffett dropped by on Tuesday Oct. 5, 2010, for lunch in the secretary's outer office for an hour beginning at 12:55 p.m. Unlike many of Clinton's other meetings, this one includes a listing for the topic of conversation: "Buffett Foundation."
But not all that many, actually: On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Clinton's calendar shows a "Private meeting w/ Ben Affleck," for a half hour in the secretary's office. No topic is listed for the conversation. Later that year, on Nov. 5, Clinton's schedule shows a five minute "Photo Op w/ Jessica Alba."
Before the Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, gala Clinton Foundation VIP reception, Clinton had a 15-minute informal "pull aside" meeting with legendary guitar player Eric Clapton, who was scheduled to perform at the event that evening at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. For some reason, Clinton did not schedule a pull aside with Jon Bon Jovi, who was also set to perform at the event.
Clinton's schedule was redacted before it was handed over to Citizens United, and not all of her events have been released. Some meetings and phone calls are redacted from view, with the State Department's notation explaining why each one has been withheld. But from the timeline it seems clear that Clinton left the State Department fairly regularly and went to somewhere that was a five or 10 minute drive away from Foggy Bottom, returning in about an hour or more.
For example, Clinton departed the State Department at 4:40 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2010, and it appears she traveled somewhere five minutes away, where she remained from 4:45 until 5:20 p.m. At 5:25, she left that location and arrived back at the State Department at 5:30. Clinton campaign officials did not respond to a request for comment about these off-campus excursions or other details of Clinton's day-to-day schedule.
The State Department said it was withholding the information about the Jan. 7 meeting under a category that includes "inter-agency or intra-agency communications forming part of the deliberative process, attorney client privilege, or attorney work product." So it probably wasn't a dentist's appointment.
The schedule gives a detailed account of Clinton's visit to the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 21, 2009 — a time when Wall Street was still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis. Clinton's turn ringing the opening bell that day was visible to the media and the world, but her other meetings were not. The calendar shows Clinton met at 8:20 a.m. with Jeffrey Eubank, the NYSE's senior vice president of global affairs and government relations, a former Bush administration official whose Wall Street job included managing relationships with governments and heads of state around the world.
Clinton also met with then-NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer in his office for a five minute "courtesy call" and held an off-the-record breakfast discussion with CEOs including Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, James Tisch of Loews Corp., Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Howard Schultz of Starbucks.
President Barack Obama gave the final go-ahead order for the mission that killed Osama bin Laden on Friday, April 29, 2011. That day, schedules show Clinton went to the White House for a half-hour meeting whose details have been redacted by the State Department and an hour and 25 minute meeting in the situation room with high level officials.
On Friday evening, she had a private dinner with then-congresswoman Jane Harman and State Department official Ellen Tauscher. The next day, Saturday, Washington officials who were in the know about the upcoming bin Laden raid were keen to keep up their normal activities, so as not to give any hint that something unusual was happening. The schedule shows Clinton left her home in Georgetown and went to The Hand Chapel, on the campus of George Washington University. There she attended the wedding of a friend of Chelsea Clinton's, Jacqueline Newmyer, who married Joseph Deal IV. Clinton was back home by 5:40 p.m.
The next day, Clinton left her home at 12:30 p.m. and went to the White House, where later that afternoon a staff photographer would take the famous picture of Clinton in the situation room with Obama and other officials as they monitored the raid. She stayed at the White House until after Obama addressed the nation about bin Laden's death, and returned to her home after midnight.
Mostly, Clinton flew commercial or on Air Force planes while secretary of state. Typically, she flew from Washington to her home in Chappaqua on Friday evenings, spent the weekend in New York, and then returned to her home in northwest Washington on Sunday nights.
Those flights, the State Department said, were paid for by Clinton personally. On official trips, Clinton often flew on Air Force aircraft, including a C-32, which is the military version of the Boeing 757. But on several occasions, Clinton flew on private jets, including a private G-5 jet on the weekend of April 1, 2011, when she, Bill and Chelsea Clinton attended a Clinton Global Initiative event in San Diego.
She was in relatively frequent contact with the CIA while at State. Clinton began many days with a review of the presidential daily briefing, the same document Obama reviewed in the Oval Office each morning. Typically, she spent about five minutes reviewing the document, but it is possible some of the briefings were given in person by the CIA.
The daily briefing is considered the most exclusive products of the U.S. intelligence community. While they are famously read by the commander-in-chief, it is less well known that copies are often distributed to top White House staffers, the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense among others authorized to review the material. Clinton's schedule also includes visits back and forth with officials from the intelligence agency.
For example, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, Clinton's entourage drove the 20 minutes to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for a two-hour private meeting, arriving back at the State Department at 12:55 p.m. And on April 6, 2010, the CIA came to her: The calendar lists a 45-minute "Briefing with CIA Director Leon Panetta" in the secretary's office with CIA briefer Harry Wetherbee and then-chief of staff Jeremy Bash.
Over the weekend of the 2010 "Snowmageddon" storm on the East Coast, Clinton hunkered down at her home in New York, making phone calls. On Saturday, she called diplomat Strobe Talbot at 8 a.m., the president of Honduras at 9:15, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at 9:30, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit at 10:06.
But on Sunday, all shuttles to D.C. were canceled due to the snowstorm, which was on its way to inundating the state of Maryland with a peak of more than 38 inches of snow. So at 9 a.m. on Monday, Clinton set out by car to Washington, arriving at her D.C. home a grueling 6½ hours later. On the way, her schedule shows, she worked the phones, calling State Department officials throughout the road trip. On Tuesday and Wednesday, she stayed at home in Georgetown, again working the phones.
The globe-trotting secretary of state and globe-trotting former president each kept up frantic travel schedules, which meant they were often not in the same place at the same time — or even on the same continent. The calendars indicate where Hillary and Bill each spent the night: "RON," in Washington parlance, the acronym for "remain overnight."
On weekdays, the Clintons typically spent the evenings in their separate homes — Hillary in northwest Washington near her office at the State Department, and Bill in Chappaqua near his office in New York. But the Clintons spent a lot of time traveling the world. On March 17, 2010, the entry read: HRC RON En route Moscow/ WJC RON White Oak, FL. Other exotic RONs: HRC RON London, England/WJC RON Stockholm Sweden. HRC RON Abu Dhabi, UAE/WJC RON London, England. HRC RON Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, WJC RON Chappaqua, NY.
In August 2010, Clinton hosted a two-hour off-the-record lunch in her outer office with national reporters and columnists who cover foreign policy. Among those listed were Christiane Amanpour, then of ABC News, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek.
On Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, Clinton went to The New York Times offices in Manhattan for an off-the-record "Coffee w/ NY Times Publishers and Editorial Staff" with about 20 people. When she arrived at the newspaper office at 10 a.m., the schedule shows her greeter was New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger.
On Monday, March 15, 2010, Clinton attended a dedication ceremony in the basement of the State Department for a set of new showers for employees who wanted to bike or run to work and needed a place to clean up. The calendar entry indicates that Clinton took a "brief tour of the showers" and posed for photos with the staff who engineered the shower project.
To look at all 3,721 pages of Clinton's schedule, click here.