It has taken several years of persistent legal pressure from Judicial Watch to begin exposing Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Last week, for example, we reported that we could have known about her email games two years ago had the State Department not withheld a key email responsive to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The Obama State Department admitted last week that it withheld a key Benghazi email of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Judicial Watch since at least September 2014. Had the department disclosed the email when first supposedly found, Clinton’s email server and her hidden emails would have been revealed before she authorized the alleged deletion of tens of thousands of emails.
This development comes in our July 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records related to the drafting and use of the Benghazi talking points (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). The lawsuit, which forced the disclosure of the Clinton email records, seeks records specifically from Clinton and her top State Department staff:
Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
Contradicting an earlier statement to the court, an April 18, 2016, State Department letter admits that it found the email at issue in 2014 but that it was held back in its entirety: “Also, upon further review, the Department has determined that one document previously withheld in full in our letter dated November 12, 2014 may now be released in part.”
The referenced November 12, 2014, letter does not discuss any withheld emails. A search declaration suggests the hidden email was found in September 2014 as a result of a search in response to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.
The September 29, 2012, email to Clinton from then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan concerns talking points for Clinton calls with senators about the Benghazi attack. The email contains Clinton’s non-state.gov address.
Last week’s document production also includes material from a records cache of thousands of new Clinton State Department records supposedly only discovered in December 2015. The new material shows the State Department compiled extensive Libya/Benghazi-related dossiers on Republican and Democrat senators.
The result of all this is that we now know that the Obama administration consciously refused to give up key information about Hillary Clinton’s email in 2014. It covered up this email both from the court and Judicial Watch.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth was right when he suggested that Obama’s State Department acted in bad faith. This cover-up provided Hillary Clinton enough time to hide potentially thousands of government records. One aim of our court-order discovery will be to get to the bottom of this cover-up.
Our disclosure of the State Department’s mendacity led to some pushback last week from the agency. The agency first told the press and then sent us a letter suggesting we were “confused.” Here’s what the Obama State Department spokesman told the press:
So we don’t generally comment on matters of litigation, but in this case, there has been some confusion about – or rising from what was an administrative error in the correspondence in which the department said that the document in question was withheld on November – in November 2014, and that date was incorrect. So all the facts in this case or this – the complete facts, rather, surrounding this document are actually in a court filing, a public court filing from July 2015. And we would recommend that folks who are interested would look at that court filing.
But in summary, it describes that the department received the documents in June 2015 from members of former Secretary Clinton’s senior staff and did not withhold it until that time. So there’s a pretty big discrepancy in the dates there and we regret, obviously, any confusion that was caused by our error in correspondence.
The letter we received supposedly correcting the record is even more incomprehensible. The Clinton email in question was not received or uncovered in 2015; that is when the State Department first told us they had a Clinton Benghazi email but were withholding it in its entirety. The poor State Department cannot even keep track of its cover-ups.
These shifting and shifty Clinton email explanations by the State Department are why two frustrated federal court judges granted Judicial Watch discovery in the Clinton email matter.