Confirmed: FBI offered State a quid pro quo to keep Hillary e-mail classification quiet

Hotair

Ed Morrissey

 

To quote the famous ethicist Rahm EmanuelYou never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Faced with a serious crisis in Hillary Clinton’s use of a secret and unauthorized use of a private e-mail system to transmit classified data, the FBI took action to, er … benefit the State Department? A newly released series of e-mails unveiled by a Judicial Watch FOIA action confirms that the FBI proposed allowing more legal attachés from State as a trade for changing the basis for withholding a classified Clinton e-mail:

Newly released internal FBI emails showed the agency’s highest-ranking officials scrambling to answer to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer in the days prior to the 2016 presidential election, on the same day then-FBI Director James Comey sent a bombshell letter to Congress announcing a new review of hundreds of thousands of potentially classified emails found on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

The trove of documents turned over by the FBI, in response to a lawsuit by the transparency group Judicial Watch, also included discussions by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page concerning a potential quid pro quo between the State Department and the FBI — in which the FBI would agree to downgrade the classification level of a Clinton email in exchange for more legal attache positions that would benefit the agency abroad. There was no indication such a quid pro quo ever took place. …

“Jason Herring will be providing you with three 302s [witness reports] of current and former FBI employees who were interviewed during the course of the Clinton investigation,” Page wrote. “These 302s are scheduled to be released to Congress in an unredacted form at the end of the week, and produced (with redactions) pursuant to FOIA at the beginning of next week.

Page continued: “As you will see, they describe a discussion about potential quid pro quo arrangement between then-DAD in IOD [deputy assistant director in International Operations Division] and an Undersecretary at the State Department whereby IOD would get more LEGAT [legal attaché] positions if the FBI could change the basis of the FOIA withhold re a Clinton email from classified to something else.”

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Federal Court Orders Discovery on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes to Respond to Judicial Watch Questions Under Oath

Seven Other Top State Department/Clinton Aides Must also Respond to Judicial Watch Queries

 

Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap — will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)

Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:

  • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
  • whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
  • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

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Judge orders State Dept. to search state.gov accounts for Clinton aides’ Benghazi emails

Free Republic

A federal judge has ordered the State Department to search the “state.gov” email accounts of Hillary Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jacob Sullivan for records related to Benghazi, as part of a watchdog’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Amit Mehta made the call Tuesday, describing the FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in March 2015 as “a far cry from a typical FOIA case.”

He noted that “Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.”

“The sole remaining dispute in this case is the adequacy of State’s search for responsive records,” Mehta wrote in his opinion and order, noting the State Department has argued the search through Clinton aides’ emails “is likely to be unfruitful.”

But Mehta wrote that the State Department “has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov email server.”

“If Secretary Clinton sent an email about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov email address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her state.gov account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an email,” Mehta wrote. “State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”

(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com

Clinton, Top Aides Still Have State Dept. Security Clearances

Free Beacon

BY:

Hillary Clinton and seven of her top aides have retained their State Department security clearances a year after the FBI concluded they were “extremely careless” handling sensitive information.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealed Clinton’s current security clearance status on Friday. Grassley released the information to express concern about the State Department’s slow bureaucratic process, Circa reported.

“The State Department confirmed that it is continuing to review the mishandling of classified information that passed through Secretary Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized email server as she and seven former aides retain access to sensitive information,” Grassley’s office said.

Clinton, who served as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, and seven of her aides were designated as “research assistants” in order to keep their security clearances.

Clinton was under investigation for using a private email address and home-brewed server to send and receive classified information during her tenure at the State Department.

Former FBI Director James Comey said last July that Clinton and her top aides were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

“There is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” Comey said.

Comey recommended that the Justice Department not pursue criminal charges, however, because he could not prove Clinton intended to break the law by using a private email server.

Grassley sent a letter to the State Department in late March asking for Clinton’s security clearance details.

Court Rules State Department Must Release Clinton Emails Detailing Obama Response to Benghazi

JUDICIAL WATCH

Trump Administration Asks Court Again to Keep Records Secret

Group Argues Agency Violating FOIA to Cover for Hillary Clinton 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered the U.S. Department of State to turn over to Judicial Watch “eight identical paragraphs” of previously redact material in two September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton emails regarding phone calls made by President Barack Obama to Egyptian and Libyan leaders immediately following the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.  Both emails had the subject line “Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt” and were among the emails stored on Clinton’s unofficial email server.  Judge Jackson reviewed the documents directly and rejected the government’s contention that the records had been properly withheld under the FOIA B(5) “deliberative process” exemption.

Judge Jackson ruled:  “the two records, even if just barely predecisional, are not deliberative. [The State Department] has pointed to very little to support its characterization of these two records as deliberative, and the Court’s in camera review of the documents reveals that they do not fall within that category.”

The full emails may reveal what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew about the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Following Judge Jackson’s March 20 ruling, the State Department asked the court to reconsider.  The State Department argued that, due to an internal “mistake,” it failed to claim that the emails were classified and, therefore, exempt from production under FOIA Exemption B(1).

In response, Judicial Watch argues that the failure was not a mistake, but instead was part of a deliberate effort by the State Department to protect Clinton and the agency by avoiding identifying emails on Clinton’s unofficial, non-secure email server as classified.

Judicial Watch’s filing cites an interview of an FBI employee who told federal investigators that top State Department official Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to keep Clinton’s emails unclassified.  The employee told the FBI he “believes STATE ha[d] an agenda which involves minimizing the classified nature of the CLINTON emails in order to protect STATE interests and those of CLINTON.”

Judicial Watch’s filing also cites an interview of a State Department employee who told the FBI that the State Department’s Office of Legal Counsel interfered with the FOIA processing of email from Secretary Clinton’s server, instructing reviewers to use Exemption B(5) (deliberative process exemption) instead of Exemption B(1) (classified information exemption).  According to the FBI interview:

STATE’s Near East Affairs Bureau upgraded several of CLINTON’s emails to a classified level with a B(1) release exemption . [Redacted], along with [Redacted] attorney, Office of Legal Counsel, called STATE’s Near East Affairs Bureau and told them they could use a B(5) exemption on a upgraded email to protect it instead of the B(1) exemption. However, the use of the B(5) exemption, which is usually used for executive privilege-related information, was incorrect as the information actually was classified and related to national security, which would be a B(1) exemption.

Judicial Watch argues:

An agency’s deliberate withholding of a FOIA claim, either to gain a tactical advantage or, as appears to be the case here, to protect the agency’s interests and those of its former head, is “a motive undoubtedly inconsistent with FOIA’s broad remedial purpose …” It “counsels denying the Government’s request.”

The emails in question were sent to then-top administration officials, including Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan, Special Assistant Robert Russo, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

“Does President Trump know his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “An extraordinary court ruling that could result in key answers about the Benghazi outrage is being opposed by the Trump administration.  This may well be an example of the ‘deep state’ trying to get away with a cover up – if so then the Trump administration must put a stop to it.”

Judicial Watch obtained the original documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01511)). The lawsuit was filed on September 4, 2014, after the State Department failed to respond to a June 13, 2014, FOIA request seeking:

  • All records related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes, but is not limited to notes taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.
  • The timeframe for this request is September 11-15,

Judicial Watch’s numerous FOIA lawsuits have forced the State Department to release hundreds of Benghazi-related documents.

Senator Grassley Asks Why “Extremely Careless” Hillary Still Has Access To Classified…

Zero Hedge

via Free Republic

Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would very much like to understand why Hillary Clinton and 6 of her closest “research aides” may still have access to classified State Department information despite FBI Director Comey’s assertion that they were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

And, after sending numerous requests to John Kerry’s State Department that ‘shockingly’ fell on deaf ears, Grassely has sent a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson asking why Hillary’s security clearance hasn’t yet been revoked given that “any other government workers who engaged in such serious offenses would, at a minimum, have their clearances suspended pending an investigation.”

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