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Docs Expose: State Dept. Colluded to Thwart FOIA Request for Hillary Clinton Emails

The federal watchdog Judicial Watch on Wednesday released 10 pages of State Department records betraying efforts by employees at State to give personal aides to former secretary of state Hillary R. Clinton the heads-up regarding Freedom of Information Act requests that would have revealed Clinton’s extraordinary private email scheme.

At the center of the collusion was attorney Cheryl Mills, who serves as an aide to Clinton, both in private life and during Clinton‘s tenure as America’s top diplomat, according to Judicial Watch, which has used the federal courts to compel release of requested documents from President Barack Obama’s administration. Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Breitbart News, “This is evidence that Cheryl Mills covered up Hillary Clinton’s email system. She was aware of the FOIA request about Clinton’s email accounts and allowed the response to go out that was a plain lie.”

Fitton said, “You can bet if Cheryl Mills knew about this inquiry, then Hillary Clinton did, too.”

Rumors are swirling around the capital that Clinton has a clinical diagnosis of progressive memory loss. Given Mills struggles during a Judicial Watch deposition, the condition might be contagious.

Q. Okay. Do you recall a FOIA request that came in from CREW that’s discussed in this document [a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) inquiring about the handling of the CREW FOIA request]?
A. I don’t recall the specific FOIA request in terms of what was in the request. But I’ve obviously seen references to this in the media since then.
Q. Do you recall a FOIA request that came in relating to — when you were at the State Department, of course, relating to the e-mail accounts used by Secretary Clinton and records that would provide for what the e-mail address was?
A. I don’t have a specific recollection of it. But I certainly have read in the media exactly what is in here. And so while it doesn’t necessarily refresh my recollection, I do know that this – obviously this matter took place.
Q. Okay. Do you recall or did Brock Johnson bring this FOIA request to your attention?
A. I don’t have a specific memory of that.
Q. Did you ever – or did you speak with Heather Samuelson [State Department and Clinton attorney who handled Clinton emails] regarding the CREW request?
A. I don’t have a memory of that.

One email sent by State Department spokesman Brock Johnson alerted Mills, then chief of staff to the secretary of state, that a “significant” FOIA request was received by the department, a request that if fulfilled would have given out that Clinton had set up a private email server and email account. That account was used by Clinton exclusively for private and public correspondence.

During the Watergate Scandal-era, a Democratic-controlled Congress passed legislation that created not only the Freedom of Information Act, to give Americans access to federal records, but also laws that clarified that documents previously considered private papers of government officials were the property of the federal government and to be transferred to the custody of the National Archives.

A private email scheme such as Clinton’s would have made an end-run around both requirements because people would not know to ask for emails not associated with an official State Department email account, nor  would the National Archives know to ask for electronic correspondence traffic through an account they did not know existed.

It is common practice inside the Obama administration to employ email subterfuge to avoid scrutiny from Congress or the public. Lisa Jackson, who served as Obama’s EPA administrator, used an alias email account for government business named after her dog. Jackson used another email belonging to a fake EPA employee, Richard Windsor. The EPA even set up fake employee records for “Windsor” that included his attending meetings and classes inside the agency.

“The documents were produced under court order in a March 2016 FOIA lawsuit against the State Department for all records ‘about the processing of a December 2012 FOIA request filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,'” according to the release. CREW is one of the most active watchdogs in the capital, operating from the political left, while JW operates from the right.

Although, the State Department accepted and acknowledged the requests, the State Department Office of Inspector General concluded that the “no records response” sent in response to this request was “inaccurate and incomplete,” the release said. It is also important to remember that during Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom, the office of inspector general was kept vacant.

Judicial Watch said the documents show that at 4:11 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2012, several State Department officials, including Brock and the Director of the Office of Correspondence and Records of the Executive Secretariat Clarence Finney were flagged about the request seeking Clinton’s email addresses.

In an email exchange labeled “Significant FOIA Report” Brock alerts Mills about the FOIA request:

From: Johnson, Brock A
Sent: Tuesday, December 11 2012 05:39 PM
To: Mills, Cheryl D
Subject: FW: Significant FOIA Report

FYI on the attached FOIA request from: Anne Weismann of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requesting “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.”

In another email, Mills acknowledges receipt and “thanks” Brock.

The State Department’s Inspector General Steve A. Linick has been active in making up for lost time.

Linick released a report in January, “Evaluation of the Department of State’s FOIA Processes for Requests Involving the Office of the Secretary,” which cataloged a culture of FOIA evasion at State.

In December 2012, the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a FOIA request to the Department seeking records “sufficient to show the number of email accounts of, or associated with, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.” On May 10, 2013, IPS [Information Programs and Services] replied to CREW, stating that “no records responsive to your request were located.” At the time the request was received, dozens of senior officials throughout the Department, including members of Secretary Clinton’s immediate staff, exchanged emails with the Secretary using the personal accounts she used to conduct official business. OIG found evidence that the Secretary’s then-Chief of Staff was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up. However, OIG found no evidence to indicate that any of these senior officials reviewed the search results or approved the response to CREW. OIG also found no evidence that the S/ES [Office of Secretary and Executive Secretariat], L [Office of the Legal Adviser], and IPS staff involved in responding to requests for information, searching for records, or drafting the response had knowledge of the Secretary’s email usage. Furthermore, it does not appear that S/ES searched any email records, even though the request clearly encompassed emails.

On August 11, 2014, the Department produced to the House Select Committee on Benghazi documents related to the 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. The production included a number of emails revealing that Secretary Clinton used a personal email account to conduct official business. OIG discovered four instances, between July and September 2014, in which staff from L, A, or the Bureau of Legislative Affairs reviewed the CREW request and the Department’s May 2013 response, but the Department did not amend its response. L and A [Bureau of Administration] staff also told OIG that the Department does not customarily revise responses to closed FOIA requests. Nevertheless, during the course of this review, Department staff advised OIG of their belief that the Department’s response to CREW was incorrect and that it should have been revised to include the former Secretary’s personal email account used to conduct official government business.

“This is all the more reason for Mrs. Clinton to finally testify under oath about the key details of her email practices,” said Fitton.

Judicial Watch told Breitbart News that it has a pending request to depose Clinton, Finney, and John Bentel, State’s former director of information resource management of the executive secretariat, which would include Clinton and her top aides and deputies at Foggy Bottom.

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