Judicial Watch: New State Department Documents Reveal Top Agency Officials Raised Questions about Clinton Emails in Early August 2013
SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
‘Finally, John, you mentioned yesterday requests for Secretary Clinton’s emails; may I get copies.’ – Margaret Grafeld, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Global Information Services to John Hackett, Deputy Director, Office of Information Programs and Services, August 7, 2013
Documents Reveal that in Early August 2013, State had 17 Freedom of Information Requests relating to requests for Clinton correspondence
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released 113 pages of new State Department documents, revealing that in early August 2013, top State Department officials raised questions about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and the number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information about them.
According to the newly obtained emails, in August 2013, State Department officials were aware of 17 FOIA requests relating to requests for Clinton correspondence, including four that “specifically mention Emails or Email accounts.” Despite the large number of FOIA requests and growing concern among top agency officials, the State Department did not formally request that the former secretary of state produce the emails on the clintonemail.com server until October 2014.
Included among the 17 FOIA requests was a Judicial Watch lawsuit seeking records pertaining to possible conflicts of interest between the actions taken by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Bill Clinton’s activities. The lawsuit produced 276 pages of internal State Department records revealing that within two days of the deadly terrorist attack on Benghazi, Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf, the president of Libya’s National Congress, asked to participate in a Clinton Global Initiative function and “meet President Clinton.” The records also show Hillary Clinton’s staff coordinated with the Clinton Foundation’s staff to have her thank Clinton Global Initiative project sponsors for their “commitments” during a Foundation speech on September 25, 2009. The lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of State (No. 1:13-cv-00772)) was filed on May 28, 2013.
In a 2014 joint expose with the Washington Examiner Judicial Watch’s Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison reported:
[F]ormer President Clinton gave 215 speeches and earned $48 million while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy, raising questions about whether the Clintons fulfilled ethics agreements related to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch and released … in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act case, State Department officials charged with reviewing Bill Clinton’s proposed speeches did not object to a single one.
The new State Department documents records were obtained by Judicial Watch under court order in a March 2016, FOIA lawsuit against the agency for all records “about the processing of a December 2012 FOIA request filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington [CREW]” (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:16-cv-00574)).In December 2012, CREW filed a FOIA request with the Department of State for “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.” In May 2013, the agency responded that “no records responsive to your request were located.” Earlier this year, the State Department Office of Inspector General concluded that the “no records response” sent in response to this request was “inaccurate and incomplete.”
According to the newly obtained records, by early August 2013, top State Department officials raised questions about FOIA requests seeking information related to the Clinton emails:
From: Grafeld, Margaret P
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 10:47 AM
To: Walter, Sheryl; Hackett, John
Subject: Fw: IPS significant FOIA Report
… Finally, John, you mentioned yesterday requests for Secretary Clinton’s emails; may I get copies, pls and thx.
[Margaret Grafeld was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Information Services. Sheryl Walter was the State Department Director, Office of Information Programs and Services/Global Information Services. John Hackett was the Deputy Director, Office of Information Programs and Services.]
From: Walter, Sheryl L
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 10:51 AM
To: Hermesman, Geoffrey F [and others]
Subject: FW: IPS Significant FOIA Report
… Geoff, can you get a copy of all requests related to Clinton’s emails?
[Geoffrey Hermesman was a State Department program analyst.]
From: Hermesman, Geoffrey F
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 12:54 PM
To: Sheryl Walter [and others]
Subject: RE: IPS significant FOIA Report
A search of the F2 database identified 17 FOIA cases that contain Clinton in the subject line and can be further construed as requests for correspondence between the Secretary and other individuals and/or organizations. Of these, four specifically mention Emails or Email accounts.
From: Finnegan, Karen M
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 4:10 PM
To: Walter, Sheryl L [and others]
Subject: RE: IPS Significant FOIA Report
Sheryl: To follow-up on my early response, Cristina is handling the Judicial Watch case, CA No. 2013-772 (DDC) (J. Kollar-Kotelly), that seeks access to all communications (including e-mail) between the Department and President Clinton and/or his foundation regarding clearing his speeches [Redacted]
[Karen Finnegan was division chief of the State Department’s freedom of information program.]
Last month, Judicial Watch released 10 pages of Department records that included an email sent by State Department spokesman Brock Johnson alerting Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s then Chief of Staff, that a “significant” Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been made for records showing the number of email accounts used by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“These new emails suggest that the Obama State Department knew about the Clinton email problem at least three years but covered it up,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Any criminal investigation of the Clinton email scandal must include officials in the Obama administration.”