MARCH 06, 2015
What some in the media describe as “an obscure court filing” has exploded onto the national scene in the form of a growing scandal over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct government business. Revelations that then-Secretary of State Clinton conducted all of her official business on a personal email account have dominated national headlines this week, and your Judicial Watch is once again in the center of the storm. I have no doubt that it was Judicial Watch’s focused Freedom of Information lawsuits, the disclosures from which led to the creation of the House Select Committee of Benghazi, which led to the uncovering of a scandal that could have criminal ramifications for Mrs. Clinton.
We knew something was up. And we had gotten hints in our blockbuster litigation that uncovered the smoking-gun documents showing Hillary’s top aides at State knew that the Benghazi terrorist attack had nothing to do with “demonstrations” or Internet videos. As Politico noted this week, there is no doubt JW’s litigation was front and center as the seven-year cover-up of Hillary’s secret emails was unraveling:
The first public sign of the email imbroglio now enveloping former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have come more than a month ago in an obscure court filing in a lawsuit demanding details of Clinton’s response to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Last year, government lawyers handling the case brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch told a federal judge that the agency had searched its files and had no more records to produce.
They changed their tune on February 2.
“In the course of preparing additional information to provide to Plaintiff for purposes of settlement discussions, Defendant has discovered that additional searches for documents potentially responsive to the FOIA must be conducted,” the attorneys wrote.
The scandal may impact at least 10 Freedom of Information Act lawsuits now active in federal courts as well as about 160 Freedom of Information requests we’ve filed with the Obama State Department.
As with what happened when Judicial Watch forced the disclosure of the “missing” IRS emails, and as Politico seems to acknowledge, these emails would never have been disclosed but for our FOIA lawsuits that broke open the Benghazi scandal and first exposed the scandal of her and Bill Clinton raising money illicitly while she was Secretary of State. Your JW also has good reason to suspect that the Obama administration withheld material information while purposefully misleading us, as well as at least one federal court about these emails. In fact, we are reviewing at least 10 FOIA lawsuits that have been dismissed to see if this scandal might warrant their reopening in federal court.
The State Department’s early response to the scandal has not been encouraging. While new records will be searched in response to future FOIA requests, there are no plans to go back and review the accuracy of what has already been produced in response to FOIA, Mari Harf, a State Department spokeswoman has said. That’s a problem.
Clinton apologists from within and outside of the State Department have made the point that by turning over 55,000 pages of emails to department officials, critics should be placated. So then in order to diffuse the controversy why doesn’t Clinton simply release the records she already turned over? To do so, “would highlight the fact that Clinton’s own aides and lawyers determined which records were work-related,” Politico surmises. That is putting it charitably.
There seems to be an assumption that the account(s) at issue are her “personal” accounts. On the contrary, these accounts, which were set up by the Secretary of State to conduct government business, are alias government accounts and should be treated as such. No third party reviews, as some are suggesting, are necessary if State follows the law and treats the account(s) as it would any other State.gov account. The State Department is obligated to secure the accounts as soon as possible to protect classified materials, retrieve any lost data, protect other federal records, and search records as required by court orders in our various FOIA lawsuits, and in response to congressional subpoenas, etc.
Rather than her private lawyers/campaign advisers reviewing the accounts and releasing material to the government, the agency should assert its ownership, secure the material and prohibit private parties from illicitly reviewing potentially classified and other sensitive material.
There’s also the question of national security. During a State Department briefing, Harf put off questions from the press asking if the account Clinton used had any kind of encryption as a safeguard against hackers. Moreover, based upon available information there’s no way for us to know if Clinton discussed classified material in her private account.
To be clear, there is potential criminal liability for Mrs. Clinton and others for concealing these government records, stealing these government records, and mishandling any classified information. To start, you can read this (this title says it all), “Did Hillary Commit a Felony?”
Even the Obama White House has tried to avoid accountability by trying to pretend that, ultimately, it was Hillary Clinton’s responsibility to ensure she followed the law. This is absurd on its face, and the defense is falling apart even as I am writing.
Reports confirm that the White House supposedly knew in August of last year about these secret accounts, but covered it up. You can see why this conspiracy is not about Hillary Clinton only, it is about her boss Barack Obama and any other top administration officials who knew or should have known that Clinton was breaking the law from the day she became Secretary of State.
We are on the case. Our lawyers placed the Department of Justice and the State Department on notice that we expect all secret State Department email accounts, including those of Hillary Clinton, to be secured and searched as the law requires. We are prepared to seek court action as the next step. In addition, we filed a new lawsuit that demands Hillary Clinton’s emails on a key foreign policy issue (see below).
And we sent out Wednesday three new Freedom of Information requests that show that we are dead serious on getting access to all this material. We demanded:
- The 55,000 pages of emails received by the Department of State from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: from October 1, 2014, to present.
- Any and all emails sent or received by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her official capacity as Secretary of State during her tenure: from February 2, 2009, to January 31, 2013.
- Any and all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton concerning, regarding or relating to the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya: from September 11, 2012, to January 31, 2013
The State Department lawfully must provide these documents, or a justification for withholding them, to Judicial Watch within 20 working days, or be subject to federal lawsuits under FOIA. Four more requests for information just went out today!
We are tired of the Obama/Clinton shell games and will sue as soon as the law allows if this administration continues to unlawfully withhold this material from the American people.
Meanwhile, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, (R-SC) issued subpoenas for “all communications” from Clinton “related to Libya” and to the State Department “for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” according to a statement from the committee’s communications director.
Again, we have no doubt that our 20 Freedom of Information lawsuits against the State Department, one of which led to the creation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi last year, forced the State Department to finally admit to Hillary Clinton’s illicit concealment of government records.
(You can view my appearance on Fox News’ The Kelly File last night.)
Hillary Clinton, as her new email scandal shows, thinks she is above the law. Why else hide emails for years from the American people? Her record is one of contempt for the rule of law and the people’s right to know about what their government is up to – especially in the area of foreign relations. To quickly get to the heart of the Clinton email scandal and vindicate our nation’s basic transparency law, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we filed this week a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. State Department seeking any and all communications – including emails – from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chief of Staff Huma Abedin with Nagla Mahmoud, the wife of ousted radical Islamist Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi, from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2013.
This could mark a major turning point because the lawsuit will require the State Department to answer questions about and conduct thorough searches of Hillary Clinton’s newly discovered personal email accounts. Judicial Watch also has nearly a dozen other active FOIA lawsuits that may require the State Department to search these email accounts. Huma Abedin is also alleged to have a secret account on Hillary’s personal email set-up as well. (Abedin, like many in Hillary’s orbit, has a dubious ethical history that has previously attracted Judicial Watch scrutiny.)
There’s some additional drama here that could add some new twists to this now growing scandal.
JidadWatch.org has reported that Ms. Mahmoud threatened Mrs. Clinton after Morsi was ousted. According to JihadWatch.org:
In the words of El-Mogaz News, Morsi’s wife “is threatening to expose the special relationship between her husband and Hillary Clinton, after the latter attacked the ousted [president], calling him a simpleton who was unfit for the presidency. Sources close to Nagla confirmed that she has threatened to publish the letters exchanged between Morsi and Hillary.”
And Ms. Abedin’s family is no stranger to the Muslim Brotherhood, as her mother is a leading member of its offshoot, the Muslim Sisterhood. As one report explains, the Muslim Brotherhood operates “under a five-part credo: Allah is our objective; the Qur’an is our constitution; the prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish.” And, as JW uncovered, fronts for this terrorist movement seem to behind the Obama administration’s censoring of anything remotely critical in federal counter-terrorism training of radical Islam.
So now we know why the State Department didn’t want to respond to our specific request for communications by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin. Instead of acknowledging that it couldn’t and wouldn’t search the private accounts that the State Department has known about for years now, the agency simply choose to violate the FOIA law. Once again, domestic politics have been elevated above the need for sound public policy.
This lawsuit shows how the latest Obama administration cover-up isn’t just about domestic politics but has significant foreign policy implications. These implications may lead to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration possibly kowtowing to radical Islamists in Egypt, Libya, and in other parts of the Middle East, resulting in war and loss of American lives.
When the rule of law doesn’t accommodate your policy ambitions, just ignore it and walk over it. That’s the Obama way, especially on immigration.
Despite a court order in February from U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Texas halting President Obama’s lawless amnesty for untold millions of illegal aliens, the Obama administration is poised to proceed full speed ahead with its plans. How do we know?
Well, for starters the administration has continued working behind the scenes to quickly award multi-million-dollar contracts to firms that can expeditiously process millions of illegal immigrants. A Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that the population of potential requesters for the president’s deferred action will be “approximately four million people” and that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anticipates the initial filing of “approximately five to six million forms” related to the amnesty order, which also covers the illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. As I reported to you a few weeks ago, it was no coincidence that a little over four hours after we highlighted this contempt for the rule of law, the agency posted a notice that it was withdrawing its RFP.
Now the administration has also asked for an emergency, expedited stay of a federal court order of a key component of President Obama’s executive amnesty. Specifically, it asked that the administration be allowed to implement the President’s Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which purportedly authorizes work permits and other benefits to deportable illegal aliens. Your Judicial Watch has filed an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the administration’s request. We are asking Judge Hanen to preserve the status quo and deny the Obama administration’s claims that it ought to be able to proceed to overturn our nation’s laws against illegal immigration. JW lawyers argued to the court:
If the Court were to grant [the Obama administration’s] motion, it would cast aside immigration laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. These laws have been in place for almost 30 years. In seeking a stay, [the Obama administration] fail[s] to demonstrate why destroying 30 years of status quo and undermining duly enacted laws is necessary at this immediate date. None of the reasons cited by [the Obama administration] in [its] motion answer the question: why today?
Basically, the Obama administration is now asking a federal court to allow President Obama to govern as a king who can rewrite, ignore, and create new law based on personal whims or political needs. The president has clearly abdicated his duty to uphold the rule of law and enforce our nation’s laws against illegal immigration.
The JW brief highlights concerns raised by U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia in a recent decision to allow one federal judge to overturn various state laws related to traditional marriage:
Because granting [the Obama administration’s] emergency, expedited motion would allow millions of individuals to begin applying for benefits and services they otherwise would not be able to receive, the recent admonition by U.S. Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia after the Court denied a stay that failed to preserve the status quo is pertinent. In Strange v. Searcy, the Supreme Court denied a stay of a federal injunction preventing the Attorney General of Alabama from enforcing several provisions of Alabama law defining marriage as a legal union of one man and one woman pending review by the Court. The Court ultimately denied the stay, requiring Alabama to begin issuing marriage licenses for same-sex unions. As a result, individuals undoubtedly have begun receiving licenses, benefits, and services that they otherwise would not be eligible to receive. If Alabama is to succeed on the merits, it will be required to void marriages and retract all benefits and services provided as a result of the marriages. In objecting to the denial of the stay, Justices Thomas and Scalia wrote:
The [Supreme] Court look[ed] the other way as yet another Federal District Judge casts aside state laws without making any effort to preserve the status quo pending the Court’s resolution of a constitutional question . . . This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is.
There are also substantial costs to U.S. taxpayers connected with the amnesty initiatives that deserve mention here. As our Corruption Chronicles blog exclusively reported earlier this week, it’s clear in the RFP’s pricing spreadsheets that it’s a huge undertaking that will cost American taxpayers a chunk of change, but now we have actual figures provided by government sources close to the negotiations. The Crystal City headquarters will get $1.5 million in “renovations/furniture,” $4 million in “telephone/data electronics,” $2.6 million in “workstation/desktop equipment” and $850,000 in “security upgrade,” according to the documents reviewed by JW. Around $3 million will be spent on an immigration processing program known as Computer Linked Adjudication Information Management System (CLAIMS) and $900,000 will go to video teleconference equipment.
The annual rent will be $7,771,082 and on-site guard services will run over $1 million. Other expenses include over $1 million for barcode readers and printers, $90,000 for overtime utilities and tens of thousands for things such as employee background checks, drug testing, “instructor travel expenses” to train new hires and basic training books. The projected payroll for fiscal year 2015 alone is $21 million for an initial 1,000 extra federal workers. If the court injunction is lifted, the document says, and the initial planning estimate holds true, USCIS “might ultimately need to increase its total program costs of between $324 and $484 million per year.” That’s based upon the assumption that 60% of all individuals who may be considered for Obama’s various amnesty schemes would elect to file a request, according to the government memo.
Judge Hanan’s 123-page opinion makes mincemeat of the administration’s legal arguments granting itself the authority to rewrite immigration law and providing the DHS with authority it does not have under law.
“The DHS was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’” Judge Hanen wrote. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”
The Obama administration also just confessed to the court that it rammed through 100,000 approvals for one of its amnesty schemes. The costs to taxpayers are enormous, the public safety is at risk, and Congress is AWOL and/or complicit. We understand that Obama’s immigration lawlessness strikes at the heart of our republican form of government, hence our quick action in support of the rule of law and our continued investigative reports this week.
Stay tuned and stay vigilant …