Watchdog group Judicial Watch has been trying to squeeze Hillary Clinton’s documents out of the State Department with Freedom of Information Act requests for years. FOIA requests have a way of turning into FOIA lawsuits before any wing of the Obama Administration responds to them.
Last Friday, three years after one such suit was filed, the State Department suddenly discovered thousands of previously undisclosed Clinton documents.
“This latest find of Clinton records, at this late date, is astonishing,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton declared. “The State Department waited to last possible moment, as it did with the Clinton emails, to tell Judicial Watch and the federal courts about thousands of records that haven’t been searched, as the law requires. Who knew what – and when did they know it – about these new Clinton documents?”
Fitton also thinks the new documents include some significant information. “These newly recovered Clinton records are a potential game changer – and will be of interest to the courts, Congress, and the FBI’s criminal investigation,” he said. “It sure looks like more of the same in terms of Obama administration officials’ obstructing our FOIA requests, obstructing the courts, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.”
Fitton further noted that the State Department’s Inspector General recently issued a report finding that responses to information requests about Clinton’s email were “inaccurate and incomplete.”
It’s difficult to see how these inaccurate responses could have been simple mistakes, because the IG report demonstrated that many people who were demonstrably aware of Clinton’s secret private email server chose to feign ignorance.
In the case highlighted by the Inspector General, another watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington specifically asked if Clinton was using non-governmental email accounts, and even though dozens of high-ranking State officials were very well aware of her black-box server, CREW was told there were no non-gov emails to see.
That’s essentially what happened during the first stage of Judicial Watch’s pursuit of Benghazi documents, too. The State Department claimed it could find no further responsive emails, the case was closed… and then reopened after the existence of Clinton’s secret mail server was revealed.
The Judicial Watch FOIA requests pertained to “the Benghazi scandal and controversies from Clinton’s term at State.” JW has also been pursuing emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The State Department made a court filing on Monday that it would begin releasing 29,000 pages of emails from Abedin, at the rate of 400 pages per month, beginning March 1 and concluding in April 2017.
In other words, the Abedin emails will come out too late to influence the Democrat primary, and most of them will be released after the 2016 election. That’s why you slow-walk FOIA requests and pretend responsive documents just randomly tumble out of closets months or years after you were supposed to produce them, folks.
In the disclosure that outraged Judicial Watch, the State Department declared it had satisfied the court order for Clinton documents in November… but then, as it explained to the court on Friday, it “located additional sources of documents that originated within the Office of the Secretary that are reasonably likely to contain records responsive to Plaintiff’s request.”
“According to information provided to Judicial Watch by various Justice Department attorneys, the new documents appear be ‘working’ records in electronic format located on both ‘shared’ and ‘individual’ drives accessible to or used by persons identified as being relevant to Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits on the Benghazi scandal and controversies from Clinton’s term at State,” said the watchdog group in its statement.
At a minimum, this is another startling demonstration of ineptitude and confusion from the mega-government that claims it can micro-manage every detail of our lives. After years of working this suit, the State Department is only now discovering that people covered by the court’s orders had a huge volume of relevant document tucked away on their personal computers? That’s not the sort of answer private entities can get away with giving government regulators.
One other interesting development in the rolling Clinton scandal: yet another watchdog group, Citizens United, filed a lawsuit this week seeking Chelsea Clinton’s correspondence with top State Department officials, including Abedin.
Chelsea Clinton is the vice chair of the controversial Clinton Foundation, whose potential links to Hillary Clinton’s activities as Secretary of State are now reportedly part of the FBI investigation. The Citizens United FOIA suit also includes other Clinton Foundation staffers and family aides. It turned into a lawsuit because the State Department dragged its heels and didn’t respond to the Citizens United FOIA request within the allotted time period.