Podesta Group, implicated in Manafort indictment took $200k at least to lobby on behalf of Uranium One. Manafort has been booked by the U.S. Marshals before facing the media outside. He has a $10M unsecured bond, home arrest, and is to be back in court on Thursday.
Oh Hillary…do tell…
Marc Elias is a partner in the law firm Perkins and Coie. Beyond that he was the general counsel for the Hillary presidential campaign. Previously to that, he did the same for the John Kerry presidential campaign….sheesh….oh yeah…he did the same for Al Franken.
Keep a large supply of popcorn handy….week by week this has the makings of good theater. Opposition research on candidates is nothing new, but this creates a new definition to research, to Clinton and fraud.
What is remarkable is that the Hillary campaign and the DNC punked the intelligence agencies that spent months and huge investigative resources on tracking down people and facts in the dossier. Further, while parts of the dossier are accurate and others not at all, it also proves that someone had a direct point of contact with people inside the Kremlin.
Let that sink in….
Related reading: Fusion GPS partners plead Fifth before House Intel
According to The Hill, the FBI, “obtained an eyewitness account -backed by documents- indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation… during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow.”
Ah, she was posing as an accountant..
FBI hidden camera surveillance videos of the spies’ operations give a fascinating look into Russian spy tradecraft as employed by Chapman and the other Russian agents. The videos show, among other things, the Russian infiltrators hiding messages under bridges, secretly trading information, money and contact information via “brush passes,” and digging for buried payoff money in the woods.
While Chapman and her fellow spies seemed to live routine, middle-class lives, the videos reveal both traditional and hi-tech spy techniques, including Chapman sending encrypted messages to her handler with a specially equipped laptop. In one of the FBI surveillance tapes, Chapman is in a department store, transmitting messages to her contact standing outside the store.
“We were able to capture wirelessly the communications between her and her handler,” Figliuzzi said. “There were six locations throughout New York,” that Chapman used, he said. “She transmits and receives messages from the official who is in close proximity but not anywhere near visibly close to her … she is transmitting encrypted code that the FBI was able to break.” More here.
As Hillary Clinton was beginning her job as President Obama’s chief diplomat, federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State, her husband Bill Clinton and members of their inner circle, according to interviews and once-sealed FBI records.
Some of the activities FBI agents gathered evidence about in 2009 and 2010 were covert and illegal.
A female Russian spy posing as an American accountant, for instance, used a false identity to burrow her way into the employ of a major Democratic donor in hopes of gaining intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s department, records show. The spy was arrested and deported as she moved closer to getting inside the secretary’s department, agents said.
Other activities were perfectly legal and sitting in plain view, such as when a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company hired a Washington firm to lobby the Obama administration. At the time it was hired, the firm was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in pro bono support to Bill Clinton’s global charitable initiative, and it legally helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business, records show.
Agents were surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check that a Kremlin-linked bank provided Bill Clinton with for a single speech in the summer of 2010. The payday came just weeks after Hillary Clinton helped arrange for American executives to travel to Moscow to support Putin’s efforts to build his own country’s version of Silicon Valley, agents said.
There is no evidence in any of the public records that the FBI believed that the Clintons or anyone close to them did anything illegal. But there’s definitive evidence the Russians were seeking their influence with a specific eye on the State Department.
“There is not one shred of doubt from the evidence that we had that the Russians had set their sights on Hillary Clinton’s circle, because she was the quarterback of the Obama-Russian reset strategy and the assumed successor to Obama as president,” said a source familiar with the FBI’s evidence at the time, speaking only on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.
That source pointed to an October 2009 communication intercepted by the FBI in which Russian handlers instructed two of their spies specifically to gather nonpublic information on the State Department.
“Send more info on current international affairs vital for R., highlight US approach,” part of the message to the spies read, using the country’s first initial to refer to Russia. “… Try to single out tidbits unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources closer to State department, government, major think tanks.”
The Clintons, by that time, had set up several new vehicles that included a multimillion dollar speech-making business, the family foundation and a global charitable initiative, all which proved attractive to the Russians as Hillary Clinton took over State.
“In the end, some of this just comes down to what it always does in Washington: donations, lobbying, contracts and influence – even for Russia,” said Frank Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.
The sleeper ring
Figliuzzi supervised the post-arrest declassification and release of records from a 10-year operation that unmasked a major Russian spy ring in 2010. It was one of the most important U.S. counterintelligence victories against Russia in history, and famous for nabbing the glamorous spy-turned-model Anna Chapman.
While Chapman dominated the headlines surrounding that spy ring, another Russian woman posing as a mundane New Jersey accountant named Cynthia Murphy was closing in on accessing Secretary Clinton’s department, according to records and interviews.
For most of the 10 years, the ring of Russian spies that included Chapman and Murray acted as sleepers, spending a “great deal of time collecting information and passing it on” to their handlers inside Russia’s SVR spy agency, FBI records state.
Murphy, living with her husband and kids in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, reported a major breakthrough in February 2009 in an electronic message sent to her handlers: she had scored access to a major Democrat, FBI records state.
“Murphy had several work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account,” one FBI record from the case read. “The message accurately described the financier as ‘prominent in politics,’ ‘an active fund-raiser’ for [a major political party, name omitted] and a ‘personal friend’ of [a current Cabinet official, name redacted].”
Multiple current and former officials confirmed to The Hill that the Cabinet officer was Hillary Clinton, the fundraiser was New York financier Alan Patricof and the political party was the Democratic National Committee. None of the Americans were ever suspected of illegalities, but the episode made clear the Russian spies were stepping up their operations against the new administration after years of working in a “sleeper” capacity, officials said.
Patricof did not return a call to his office Friday seeking comment. But in 2010 he told The Washington Post after the spy case broke he believed he had been a victim of the spy ring, saying Murphy had worked for him but that he only talked accounting and not government or politics with her.
“It’s just staggering,” he told the Post about the idea of being targeted by Russia. “It’s off the charts.”
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill declined Saturday to say if the secretary was ever alerted or briefed to the Russian spy effort, instead suggesting that any focus on the spy case was a partisan effort to distract from the controversy around Moscow and President Trump.
“Nothing has changed since the last time this was addressed, including the right’s transparent attempts to distract from their own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security,” he wrote in an email to The Hill.
Back in 2010, when the spy story broke, Hillary Clinton’s office issued a statement that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.”
Court documents and agents who worked the case suggest otherwise, saying the Russians were specifically targeting her department and any intelligence they could get on the new administration’s emerging foreign policy.
Trying to get inside State
The FBI documents show exactly what Murphy’s Russian handlers wanted her to get from a Clinton-tied donor she had befriended. “Maybe he can provide Murphy with remarks re US foreign policy, roumors (sic) about White House internal kitchen, invite her to major venues,” one FBI document quoted the Russians as saying.
By 2010, the Russian SVR urged Murphy to consider taking a job with a lobbying firm because “this position would expose her to prospective contacts and potential sources in U.S. government,” the FBI affidavit read.
Figliuzzi said it was the FBI’s belief that Murphy wasn’t going to risk taking a job inside the State Department, where the vetting process might unmask her true identity. So she aimed for a private sector job where “she could get next to people who had the jobs who could get the information she wanted from State,” he said.
The retired FBI executive said that by early summer 2010, agents feared Chapman might flee the country and Murphy was getting too close to posing a security concern to Hillary Clinton. As a result, they arrested the entire ring of 10 spies, and quickly expelled them.
“In regards to the woman known as Cynthia Murphy, she was getting close to Alan, and the lobbying job. And we thought this was too close to Hillary Clinton. So when you have the totality of the circumstance, and we were confident we had the whole cell identified, we decided it was time to shut down their operations,” Figliuzzi said.
The FBI announced the arrests on June 28, 2010, a day after they were made.
The ring highlights the long-standing efforts Russia has made to gain access to U.S. officials, which sprouted up well before the last election. But the recent events also illustrate how Russia’s efforts have advanced.
Figliuzzi said they show a “logical evolution or morphing of methodology to exploit social media in a way that is far more effective and potentially damaging” than the spy ring rolled up in 2010.
“We watched a sleeper cell of ten people for ten years that didn’t come close to the impact of a few thousand ads and posts on FB, Twitter, Google and Instagram,” he said.
Bill Clinton’s big check
A day after the arrests of the sleeper ring, another event captured the FBI’s attention.
Thousands of miles away in Russia, former President Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute speech to Renaissance Capital, a Kremlin-connected bank, then scored a meeting with Putin himself.
The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show.
One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One, which controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter.
The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market.
And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. A team of venture capitalists had been dispatched to Moscow just a few weeks before Bill Clinton landed his payday, records show.
“We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level,” Hillary Clinton said at the time, according to a State Department transcript. She added that the business executives she dispatched to Putin’s homeland had Twittered their way through Russia.
The bank that paid Bill Clinton was promoting the Uranium One deal’s stock. And the former president entertained – though he never followed through with – meeting with two Russian figures who had ties to the nuclear sales and the Silicon Valley deals as well, State Department records show.
Angel Urena, the official spokeswoman for the former president, told The Hill that Bill Clinton never discussed the issues pending before his wife’s department when he was in Russia and that the money he collected for himself and his charitable efforts never influenced his wife’s decision-making.
Away from Bill Clinton’s check and the breaking news of a spy ring, the FBI had another major investigation underway where the Clinton name was surfacing.
Since 2009, the FBI had an undercover informant gathering evidence of a massive bribery and kickback scheme inside the Russian nuclear energy firm TENEX and its American arm TENAM.
Years later, FBI agents would help the Justice Department bring charges against the Russian nuclear industry’s point man in the United States, TENEX director Vadim Mikerin, as well as a Russian financier and an American trucking executive whose company moved Russian uranium around the United States.
But as the informant gathered evidence of the bribery scheme in early 2010, he began to hear a familiar name crop up in conversations. The Russians kept talking about ways they could win access to or favor with the Clintons, and the informant kept reporting it back to his FBI handlers.
The informant has never been publicly identified, but his lawyer told The Hill on Friday he can shed significant light to Congress on what the Russians were doing to try to win favorable treatment from the Obama administration.
“I can confirm that my client while working undercover for the FBI and in the employ of the Russian energy firm TENEX witnessed numerous, detailed conversations in which Russian actors described their efforts to lobby, influence or ingratiate themselves with the Clintons in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration,” attorney Victoria Toensing said.
“Unfortunately, he cannot at the present time disclose the specifics of that evidence he reported to the agents in real time because of an NDA he signed with the bureau. But we are working with Congress to find a means in the future for him to transmit the important information he possesses,” she added.
There are some public records that show what TENEX was trying to do inside the United States.
The Russian firm between 2009 and 2011 hired two Washington consulting firms to help it win Obama administration approval for policies and contracts that opened up billions in new nuclear fuel sales for TENEX, foreign agent registration records show. Those firms were never implicated in any wrongdoing in court records, and were just doing contract work to expand the Russian company’s commercial nuclear sales inside the United States.
The lobbying work was perfectly legal, focusing on agencies like State, Commerce and Energy that supervised the U.S.-Russia nuclear relationship. But once again, a connection to the Clintons emerged.
One of the firms TENEX hired in 2010 was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in support to the Clinton Global Initiative, starting in 2008.
LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft (ROSN.MM), has agreed to take control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s main oil pipeline, boosting its investment in the autonomous region to $3.5 billion despite Baghdad’s military action sparked by a Kurdish vote for independence.
The move appears to be part of a strategy by President Vladimir Putin to boost Moscow’s Middle Eastern political and economic influence, which was weakened by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Rosneft said it would own 60 percent of the pipeline, with current operator KAR Group retaining 40 percent. Sources familiar with the deal said Rosneft’s investment in the project was expected to total about $1.8 billion.
That comes on top of $1.2 billion that the Russian firm, which has struggled to raise Western loans due to U.S. sanctions, lent Kurdistan earlier this year to help fill holes in its budget. Rosneft also agreed to invest another $400 million in five exploration blocks. More here
You remember Rosneft right? That Russian oil conglomerate that donated big dollars to the Clinton Foundation during the Uranium One deal and even the NYT’s reported it.
(Reuters) – A senior Iranian military commander repeatedly warned Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq to withdraw from the oil city of Kirkuk or face an onslaught by Iraqi forces and allied Iranian-backed fighters, Kurdish officials briefed on the meetings said.
Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, traveled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region to meet Kurdish leaders at least three times this month before the Baghdad government’s lightning campaign to recapture territory across the north.
The presence of Soleimani on the frontlines highlights Tehran’s heavy sway over policy in Iraq, and comes as Shi’ite Iran seeks to win a proxy war in the Middle East with its regional rival and U.S. ally, Sunni Saudi Arabia.
Soleimani met leaders from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two main Kurdish political parties in northern Iraq, in the city of Sulaimania the day before Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered his forces to advance on Kirkuk, according to a PUK lawmaker briefed on the meeting.
His message was clear: withdraw or risk losing Tehran as a strategic ally.
“Abadi has all the regional powers and the West behind him and nothing will stop him from forcing you to return back to the mountains if he decides so,” the lawmaker quoted Soleimani as telling the PUK leadership.
The Iranian general evoked late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s massive attack on a Kurdish rebellion in 1991, when almost the entire Kurdish population fled northern Iraq to the mountains, the PUK lawmaker said.
“Soleimani’s visit … was to give a last-minute chance for the decision-makers not to commit a fatal mistake,” said the lawmaker, who like others interviewed in this story declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Commanders of the Iraqi Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, have accused Iran of orchestrating the Shi’ite-led Iraqi central government’s push into areas under their control, a charge senior Iranian officials have denied.
But Iran has made no secret of its presence in Iraq.
“Tehran’s military help is not a secret anymore. You can find General Soleimani’s pictures in Iraq everywhere,” said an official close to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Now, beside political issues, Kirkuk’s oil is a very key element for Iran, which is an OPEC member. Control of those oil fields by Iran’s enemies would be disastrous for us. Why should we let them enter the oil market?.”
“THERE WILL BE CONFLICT”
Kirkuk fell to Iraqi government forces on Monday. Their offensive followed a referendum last month in which the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region voted to secede from Iraq against Baghdad’s wishes.
Kurds have sought an independent state for almost a century, after colonial powers divided up the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and left Kurdish-populated territory split between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
But Iraq’s two main Kurdish parties have been at odds over both the referendum and the approach to the crisis in Kirkuk, which the Kurds consider to be the heart of their homeland.
The PUK, a close ally of Iran, accused its rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), of putting the Kurds at risk of military intervention and isolation by pushing hard for the vote, which won wide approval for independence.
Soleimani has been allied to the PUK for years, but the referendum has drawn him even closer to Kurdish politics and expanded Iran’s reach in Iraq beyond the Baghdad government.
The Iranian general is no stranger to conflicts in Iraq, which fought an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s. He has often been seen in footage from the frontlines, and Iran has long helped Baghdad to carry out its military strategy through paramilitary Shi’ite militias which it funds and arms.
Before the referendum, Soleimani suggested to Kurdish leaders that holding a vote on secession — which Iran feared would encourage its own Kurdish population to agitate for greater autonomy — would be risky.
“The Iranians were very clear. They have been very clear that there will be conflict, that these territories will be lost,” said one prominent Iraqi Kurdish politician who met Soleimani ahead of the Sept. 25 referendum.
On Oct. 6, barely a week after the vote, Soleimani attended the funeral of PUK leader Jalal Talabani. Again, he wanted to make sure even his closest Kurdish allies understood the dangers of not withdrawing from Kirkuk, officials said.
A senior Iranian diplomat in Iraq and an official in Iran close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office said Soleimani met with Kurdish leaders after Talibani’s funeral and urged them to withdraw from Kirkuk and in exchange Tehran would protect their interests.
Soleimani met with one of Talabani’s sons, Bafel, a few days after his father was buried, one of the PUK officials said.
“Soleimani said Abadi should be taken very seriously. You should understand this,” the official said.
An Iranian source in Iraq said Soleimani was in Kirkuk two nights before the Iraqi government offensive for “a couple of hours to give military guidance.” Iraqi intelligence sources said Tehran sent a clear signal to the PUK.
“We understand from our sources on the ground that neighboring Iran played a decisive role in making the PUK chose the right course with Baghdad,” one Iraqi intelligence official told Reuters.
Tensions over the referendum and Kirkuk have deepened divisions between the two main political parties in northern Iraq. The KDP accused the PUK of betraying the Kurdish cause by capitulating to Iran and striking a deal to withdraw.
“The Talabani clan were behind the offensive on Kirkuk. They asked Qassem (Soleimani) for help and his troops were there on the ground,” said a source close to Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government and head of the KDP.
“It is becoming clear that Iran is directing the operations to destroy the KDP.”
The PUK strongly denies this. Talabani’s son Bafel accused the KDP of missing a zero-hour chance to avoid losing Kirkuk by failing to reach a deal over a military base which Iraqi government forces had demanded to take back.
“Unfortunately we reacted too slowly. And we find ourselves where we are today,” Bafel told Reuters.
Two other Kurdish political sources gave a similar account.
Iran and Soleimani offered early assistance to northern Iraq’s Kurds in the fight against Islamic State, a rallying point for the Kurdish community. But after the devastating loss of Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurds have been left disillusioned.
“They (both PUK and KDP leaders) just make decisions on their own and play with people’s lives. In the end, we pay the price,” said pensioner Abdullah Ahmed in Sulaimania. “This is a disaster for everyone. Everyone was united against Daesh (Islamic State). Now they are back just looking out for themselves.”
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:
- Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
- With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.” [pg. 115]
- The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
- A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
- None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]
- The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part II:
- Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place. The State Department senior officials at the meeting had access to eyewitness accounts to the attack in real time. The Diplomatic Security Command Center was in direct contact with the Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground in Benghazi and sent out multiple updates about the situation, including a “Terrorism Event Notification.” The State Department Watch Center had also notified Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills that it had set up a direct telephone line to Tripoli. There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground. Greg Hicks—one of the last people to talk to Chris Stevens before he died—said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks. [pg. 28]
- The morning after the attacks, the National Security Council’s Deputy Spokesperson sent an email to nearly two dozen people from the White House, Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community, stating: “Both the President and Secretary Clinton released statements this morning. … Please refer to those for any comments for the time being. To ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day, Ben Rhodes will host a conference call for USG communicators on this chain at 9:15 ET today.” [pg. 39]
- Minutes before the President delivered his speech in the Rose Garden, Jake Sullivan wrote in an email to Ben Rhodes and others: “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’” [pg. 44]
- According to Susan Rice, both Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe prepared her for her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attacks. Nobody from the FBI, Department of Defense, or CIA participated in her prep call. While Rhodes testified Plouffe would “normally” appear on the Sunday show prep calls, Rice testified she did not recall Plouffe being on prior calls and did not understand why he was on the call in this instance. [pg.98]
- On the Sunday shows, Susan Rice stated the FBI had “already begun looking at all sorts of evidence” and “FBI has a lead in this investigation.” But on Monday, the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs sent an email stating: “McDonough apparently told the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference] group today that everyone was required to ‘shut their pieholes’ about the Benghazi attack in light of the FBI investigation, due to start tomorrow.” [pg. 135]
- After Susan Rice’s Sunday show appearances, Jake Sullivan assured the Secretary of the State that Rice “wasn’t asked about whether we had any intel. But she did make clear our view that this started spontaneously and then evolved.” [pg. 128]
- Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday talk shows were met with shock and disbelief by State Department employees in Washington. The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: “I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.” The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: “Off the reservation on five networks!” The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: “WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.” [pg. 132]
- The CIA’s September 13, 2012, intelligence assessment was rife with errors. On the first page, there is a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one of the bullet points. The article cited to support the mention of a protest in this instance was actually from September 4. In other words, the analysts used an article from a full week before the attacks to support the premise that a protest had occurred just prior to the attack on September 11. [pg. 47]
- A headline on the following page of the CIA’s September 13 intelligence assessment stated “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” but nothing in the actual text box supports that title. As it turns out, the title of the text box was supposed to be “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.” That small but vital difference—from Cairo to Benghazi—had major implications in how people in the administration were able to message the attacks. [pg. 52]
Judge orders new searches for Clinton Benghazi emails
Politico: Nine months after the presidential election was decided, a federal judge is ordering the State Department to try again to find emails Hillary Clinton wrote about the Benghazi attack.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the State Department had not done enough to try to track down messages Clinton may have sent about the assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound on Sept. 11, 2012 — an attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, State searched the roughly 30,000 messages Clinton turned over to her former agency at its request in December 2014 after officials searching for Benghazi-related records realized she had used a personal email account during her four-year tenure as secretary.
State later searched tens of thousands of emails handed over to the agency by three former top aides to Clinton: Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan. Finally, State searched a collection of emails the FBI assembled when it was investigating Clinton’s use of the private account and server.
In all, State found 348 Benghazi-related messages or documents that were sent to or from Clinton in a period of nearly five months after the attack.
However, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch argued that the search wasn’t good enough because State never tried to search its own systems for relevant messages in the official email accounts of Clinton’s top aides.
In a 10-page ruling issued Tuesday, Mehta — an Obama appointee — agreed.
“To date, State has searched only data compilations originating from outside sources — Secretary Clinton, her former aides, and the FBI. … It has not, however, searched 8 the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov e-mail server,” Mehta wrote.
“If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov e-mail 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 e-mail. Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”
Justice Department lawyers representing State argued that making them search other employees’ accounts for Clinton’s emails would set a bad precedent that would belabor other FOIA searches.
But Mehta said the circumstances surrounding Clinton’s email represented “a specific fact pattern unlikely to arise in the future.”
A central premise of Mehta’s ruling is that the State Department’s servers archived emails from Clinton’s top aides. However, it’s not clear that happened regularly or reliably.
State Department officials have said there was no routine, automated archiving of official email during Clinton’s tenure. Some officials did copy their mailboxes from time to time and put archived message folders on desktop computers or servers, so State may still have some messages from the aides, but the FBI may already have acquired some of those messages during its inquiry.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the judge’s decision. A Justice Department spokesman said: “We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and order.”