One of the emails to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta exposed by WikiLeaks is an October 2015 message intended to provide Hillary Clinton’s defenders with coordinated talking points during the former Secretary of State’s Benghazi hearings.
One of those talking points is a falsehood Team Clinton keeps coming back to:
The State Department has all of Hillary Clinton’s work emails and has been providing relevant ones to the Committee for more than a year. There is nothing in those emails that substantiates any of the Republicans’ conspiracy theories about Benghazi, or that sheds any new light on the attacks at all.
The State Department most certainly did not have all of Clinton’s work emails. That is the reason the long-running crisis regarding them continues: her arrogant defiance of federal records laws, State Department security protocols, and Obama Administration guidelines.
In fact, this talking point is a perfect reversal of the truth. The public learned about Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server because the State Department continually failed to respond accurately to Freedom of Information Act requests, many of them pertaining to Benghazi.
Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has said at least 30 emails responsive to her Benghazi FOIA request were found hidden on Clinton’s server. The State Department stonewalled her request for over four years.
Judicial Watch uncovered documents that showed State Department employees actively colluding with Clinton to thwart the Freedom of Information Act. One of those State Department internal memos specifically addresses fears that complying with FOIA would reveal the existence of Clinton’s secret server.
The State Department has admitted to deliberately withholding at least one Clinton email, precisely because it would have revealed her ClintonEmail.com address, months before she had a chance to delete thousands of her emails. The email State confessed to hiding contained a list of Benghazi talking points.
Thousands of other Clinton emails have been “accidentally misplaced” by the State Department, only to be “discovered” years after Freedom of Information Act requests were filed – and even long after court orders were issued. Many of those emails pertained to Benghazi.
Judicial Watch has pinpointed hundreds of Clinton emails that were never turned over to the State Department – not even after her server was discovered, and she signed documents under penalty of perjury, attesting that she had finally done what Podesta’s talking points falsely credited her with doing years ago.
In August 2016, the FBI presented State with a trove of about 14,900 emails Clinton had never released to them. They were among the emails Clinton deleted on her own authority, having decreed them “personal” messages about yoga, wedding plans, and such. At least 30 of those emails pertained to Benghazi.
Just yesterday, the State Department announced it had acquired another 323 pages of correspondence between Secretary of State Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, gleaned from Abedin’s archives. Clinton withheld some of those emails from the State Department when she turned over her work-related correspondence. At least one of those emails was classified when Clinton sent it to Abedin.
Long after Clinton certified that all of her work-related emails had been provided to the State Department, the Obama Administration began discovering missing emails between the former Secretary of State and former U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus. At last count, the FBI said that over a thousand emails between Clinton and Petraeus were not handed over to the State Department as required.
Clinton and her loyalists have sometimes claimed that her emails were all archived, in accordance with legal requirements, because the other people included in the email chains were using proper government email addresses. In other words, Clinton wants a pass from the requirements because everyone else was complying with them, and their copies of her email messages are stored in the proper government computer systems.
Clinton might as well claim she complied with the requirements by loading her work emails onto a thumb drive and dropping it into a State Department wastebasket while no one was looking.
Furthermore, not all her correspondents were using proper .gov email addresses. Some of them had accounts on the very same ClintonEmail.com private server Hillary Clinton was using. At least one noteworthy Clinton correspondent used both a private email address and a false name to communicate with her. His real name is Barack Hussein Obama.
Finally, there is the legal matter of Clinton’s sworn statement that all of her work-related emails had been provided to the State Department. According to media accounts, that statement – signed under penalty of perjury, at the direction of a federal judge – declared, “While I do not know what information may be ‘responsive’ for purposes of this law suit, I have directed that all my e-mails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.”
Obviously there is a sizable loophole in that declaration, in terms of her “sincere belief” that she handed everything over. She can claim she didn’t know about the material she “forgot” to provide. The sheer volume of missing emails discovered by the FBI and other investigators makes such claims very difficult to credit, especially since some of the items she “forgot” are highly sensitive. If nothing else, we come back to question of poor judgment, sloppy organization, and perhaps lack of mental acuity that should disqualify her from holding high government office.
But nothing in that statement suggests “other people with .gov addresses have copies of my email, so it’s all good” would be a truthful and acceptable response. She swore that “records in my custody” were provided to the Department of State, and her top aides signed similar declarations, also under penalty of perjury. Copies of the records in other people’s custody have nothing to do with it.
Let us permanently bury the talking point about Hillary faithfully handing over all of her work-related correspondence to the State Department. It’s not true, and all of her aides, including John Podesta, know it isn’t true. It was not true in October 2015, and it’s not true as of November 2016, because we’re still finding new documents Clinton did not surrender as required.