Often forgotten amid the scandals in Washington is the fact that were it not for an investigation into the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Americans may never have known that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been using an unauthorized and unsecured private email server to conduct official government business.
Government watchdog group Judicial Watch was instrumental in uncovering that bombshell information, and now, the group has come into possession of an email from the days following the Benghazi attack that they say would have revealed Clinton’s unauthorized server use much sooner. But the message was kept under wraps by the State Department, according to Judicial Watch, as part of what they called a “cover-up.”
A State Department “cover-up”
The email chain, dated Sept. 29, 2012, was comprised of a discussion between a few of Clinton’s top aides at the time, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan, who discussed the “talking points” that would be used by State Department officials when addressing questions on what happened at the diplomatic annex in Libya that was attacked by armed militant groups, leaving four Americans dead, earlier that month.
(Notably, the various points of discussion were clearly intended to paint the State Department in the best possible light, first by pointing out how quickly the department had responded and its commitment to investigating what went wrong, and later, by blaming the Intelligence Community.)
But the email chain between Mills and Sullivan was only recently turned over to Judicial Watch by the State Department by order of a court.
It should have been turned over back in 2014, when Judicial Watch first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that sought any and all communications referencing “talking points” related to the Benghazi attack.
But it wasn’t, and as a result, Clinton’s private email server was not discovered until 2015 (by virtue of other documents that Judicial Watch had obtained).
Now, with the help of the courts, Judicial Watch has been looking closely at three things: “whether Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server was intended to stymie FOIA; whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request.”
We already know that Clinton’s use of a private email server — whether intentional or not — certainly did stymie FOIA requests. With the release of this long-held email, we can also now say that the State Department did indeed act in “bad faith” by failing to turn over an email that would indisputably have been considered “responsive” to the requests posed by Judicial Watch for “talking points”-related communications about Benghazi.
“This email is a twofer — it shows Hillary Clinton misled the U.S. Senate on Benghazi and that the State Department wanted to hide the Benghazi connection to the Clinton email scheme,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
He went on: “Rather than defending her email misconduct, the Justice Department has more than enough evidence to reopen its investigations into Hillary Clinton.”
We can only hope that justice, long denied, will now soon be upheld.