Weekly Update: Big Benghazi Scandal News
Emails Reveal More Instances of Clinton Using Unsecure Email Server for Classified Info
JW Releases First Set of Numbers on President Trump Travel: Air Force One Costs for Two Trips: $1,281,420
Court Rules State Department Must Release Clinton Emails Detailing Obama Response to Benghazi
This week, federal prosecutors were given more reasons to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
We have released 894 pages of State Department documents that include previously unreleased email exchanges in which Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin sent Clinton classified information through her unsecure clintonmail.com email account. The Abedin emails also include repeated instances of Clinton’s detailed daily schedules being sent to top Clinton Foundation officials at unsecured email addresses.
The records were produced by the State Department from the non-state.gov email accounts of Abedin. The records were obtained in response to a court order from our May 5, 2015, lawsuit filed against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) for:
All emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013 using a non-“state.gov” email address.
The new documents included 29 Hillary Clinton email exchanges not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 317 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department. These records further appear to contradict statements by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails were turned over to the State Department.
The emails show classified information was sent through the clintonemail.com account:
- In a December 21, 2009, email, Clinton top national security and foreign policy staffer Jake Sullivan forwarded an email to Clinton’s unsecured email account containing classified information heavily redacted under FOIA exemption B1.4(D) – “Information specifically authorized by an executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy … Foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Clinton thenforwarded the email, concerning the climate change accord, from her unsecured email account to Abedin’s unsecured email account with the message, “Pls print.”
- And, on December 24, 2009,Clinton sent an unsecured email from [email protected] to then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. The classified email, asking Carson to “Pls review the memcon of my call w [French] FM Kouchener [Redacted].” Information in this message was blacked out using FOIA exemptions B1.4(B) – “Foreign government information” and (D).
The new Abedin emails also reveal four instances in which Clinton’s then-Scheduler Lona Valmoro forwarded the former secretary of state’s detailed daily schedule to top Clinton Foundation officials. In each case, those who received the schedules included Bill Clinton’s personal scheduler and Foundation aide Terry Krinvic, Justin Cooper, a then-aide to President Clinton who helped manage Hillary Clinton’s unsecure email system, and Clinton Foundation Director Doug Band.
The Abedin emails contain information sent from Clinton’s unsecured [email protected] account in which she reminds an aide that she is to have a talk with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on “cybersecurity” and a reference to a “HRC Support Network”:
From: H [[email protected]]
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 4:10:34 PM
CC: Huma Abedin
Subject: Call list and HRC Support Network
These records reveal that on January 17, 2010, five days after the massive Haitian earthquake, former Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper emailed Hillary Clinton’s then- Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, to ask if they can do a conference call to discuss Haiti. Clinton Foundation officials Laura Graham and Doug Band are also provided the call-in information for the conference call. (Author Peter Schweizer would later describe in his book Clinton Cash how the Obama administration, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, allowed hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funded reconstruction contracts for Haiti to flow through the Clinton Foundation.)
According to minutes of a January 27, 2010, senior State Department staff meeting, diligent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents uncovered “at least a couple pedophiles” attempting to adopt children in Haiti following the earthquake. The State Department was reportedly working with the Haitian government to expedite adoptions and removal to the United States of Haitian orphans.
These new emails show Hillary Clinton is a serial violator of various laws concerning the handling of classified material. The initial investigation into this criminal matter was compromised by Barack Obama’s corrupted FBI and Justice Department. This new information should spur new federal criminal investigations, hopefully under a new director of the FBI (see my comments for our friends at Breitbart on the disastrous FBI Director Comey here.)
Your JW wouldn’t be a credible watchdog group if we stopped asking questions depending on who is in office. We are a go-to source for information about what politicians are up to – including on where they are traveling and the associated costs for put upon taxpayers.
As part of this accountability mission, we released records from the Department of the Air Force in response to Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) requests that show President Trump’s flights to Mar-a-Lago for two weekends (in February and March) cost $1,281,420.00.
According to the Air Force documents, the cost to operate Air Force One is $142,380 per hour. The Air Force records show a total of nine hours for trips from Feb. 3 – 6 and March 3 – 6. The latter trip involved a stop in Orlando where Trump met Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to tour a private Catholic school in support of school vouchers.
- On February 3-6, Air Force One traveled 4.7 hours of flight time @ $142,380 per hour for a total of $669,186
- In March, Air Force One flew 4.3 hours at $142,380 per hour for a total of $612,234, which includes the jaunt to Orlando, an additional half-hour of flight costs.
The Secret Service hasn’t responded to Judicial Watch’s request for records about this or any other trip by President Trump and other administration VIPs. Other trip cost information requests to the Air Force also remain pending.
From 2009, to the end of former President Obama’s term, JW tracked President Obama’s travel, resulting in a tabulation of at least $96,938,882.51 in taxpayer dollars for Obama family travel during his eight years in office. In fact, we’re still waiting on some of Obama’s travel numbers.
We’re pleased that the Air Force finally gave us some of the numbers for President Trump’s travel.
We’re preparing to go to court to get a full accounting of President Trump’s controversial trips.
Judicial Watch tracked some of the costs of President Obama’s unnecessary travel and we’re not closing up shop with a new administration.
This weekend, President Trump traveled to one of his homes in New Jersey and, seemingly responding to JW’s disclosures, highlighted in a tweet how going to stay in NJ is cheaper for taxpayers than visiting his home in mid-town Manhattan. It is good that, unlike the prior Oval Office occupant, he is at least showing some sensitivity on this issue and taking our advice to consider the taxpayer impact of any unnecessary travel.
I have some good news on bad news on getting more answers on the Benghazi outrage.
First the good news. We put out word this morning that on March 20, 2017, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the U.S. Department of State to turn over to Judicial Watch “eight identical paragraphs” of previously redacted material in two September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton emails. The emails regarded 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.
Now the bad news!
Immediately 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).
You won’t be surprised to learn our attorney team went back to court to oppose this gambit. Our brief 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.
Our 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.”
We also cite to 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.
I’m sure you share my concern that this potentially historic Benghazi material may never see the light of day thanks to some within the Trump administration. Does President Trump know his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?”
I can’t believe this 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.
We fought the Obama administration in court repeatedly to uncover the truth about Benghazi that even Congress couldn’t get. Let’s hope the Trump administration appointees understand the stakes and stop fighting us in court (and wasting taxpayer dollars) to defend the indefensible.
Until next week,