UPDATE – As Katie noted this morning, the State Department will release ‘portions’ of Hillary’s emails early next year. As you read headlines to that effect, please remember that the pool of emails State has in its possession do not include any of the 32,000 messages that were deleted by Hillary’s lawyers, without any supervision.
Here we go: Two major Hillary stories, each quite significant — much like we saw late last month. This time, rather than revelations about a wildly suspicious uranium deal and tens of millions in unreported foreign government donations to the Clinton Foundation, we’re looking at astonishing evidence of rogue, conflict-of-interest-riddled, off-the-books diplomacy…and yet another lie related to Hillary’s secret email scheme.
We’ll get to the email lie in a moment, but in order to connect the dots, let’s review some key details in a Monday New York Times story. As you read, bear in mind that “Mr. Blumenthal” is Sid Blumenthal, a long-time Clinton hatchet man and operative who had been explicitly barred by the Obama administration from taking a job in Hillary’s State Department:
According to emails obtained by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable. But an examination by The New York Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years. While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. During the same period, he also worked on and off as a paid consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge, organizations that helped lay the groundwork for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.
One “wow” after another: Hillary used Blumenthal as an unapproved conduit for statecraft and intelligence-gathering, over the wishes of the president, and the pair conducted their rogue business over unofficial, un-secure email systems — which now appear to have been hacked at both ends. The intel provided was shoddy at best, and was frequently furnished to him by business associates with heavy financial interests at stake, and who lacked relevant expertise. And that data, funneled through Blumenthal, was apparently viewed as credible by the American Secretary of State, who circulated it to top-level advisers. Previous reporting has suggested that Blumenthal also fed intelligence and requests for favors directly to Sec. Clinton from the pro-Kremlin opposition in Georgia. God only knows what else he was up to, and how much of it ended up directly in front of America’s top diplomat. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin contextualizes why the Times story is a bombshell unto itself:
The main questions we should be asking is what on earth was someone knee deep in a bizarre Libyan business scheme acting as an advisor to the secretary of state about a country with which he had previously had little to do. Blumenthal was writing intelligence memos about Libya that was largely the product of the opinions of his business associates. Some of the memos he wrote made sense. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who would be murdered by terrorists in the Benghazi attack, shot others down. But whether or not they made sense, Clinton circulated them to her department as gospel, appended with notes praising their insight. But whether they were right or wrong, it is simply astonishing that someone that was on her family foundation payroll as well as working for other political outfits aimed at furthering her political future was put in such a position where he could influence policy related to his business interests. At the very least, this merits serious questions about the Clinton’s already notorious lack of ethics. We don’t know where one Blumenthal job ended and another began. All we do know is that he was getting paid by a number of different sources as well as the government while seeking to make profits enabled by the whims of Hillary’s State Department.
Just to put a finer point on it, one of those “different sources” of income was — yes — the Clinton Foundation, an association about which Team Clinton has suddenly clammed up. The Obama administration made clear that they didn’t want Blumenthal influencing US foreign policy, yet Hillary used him as a surreptitious resource anyway, ingesting the unvetted intel he provided via buddies who were looking to turn a profit in Libya. The specifics in the Times piece were mined by a third party who hacked Blumenthal’s emails, which is how the communications between Sid and Hillary were unearthed. And that brings us to the new email lie: Back when questions about Hillary Clinton’s secret server first came to light, her lawyers stated unequivocally that with the exception of a few days at the very beginning of the first Obama administration, Secretary Clinton exclusively used one email account (“hdr22”) throughout her tenure at State. In response to a records request from Congressional investigators, Hillary’s lawyer asserted that a separate email account (“hrod17”) “is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.” Thanks to the Times story and the Blumenthal hack, we now know that statement to be false. The RNC published the evidence on its website last evening, posting screen caps of email exchanges from Hillary Clinton using “hrod17” in 2011 and 2012, prior to her departure from State in 2013. One example:
The email address did exist, and she personally used it. Her lawyer’s statement to Trey Gowdy was a lie. Which reminds me: None of this — not the private email server, not latest revelations and contradictions — may ever have seen the light of day absent the work of Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, which Democrats ridiculed and opposed at every turn. Indeed, Elijah Cummings is doing his hacktastic best to make the story about GOP leaks to the press, rather than, you know, a Secretary of State’s rogue, national security-endangering diplomacy conducted over under-secured private email accounts:
Top D on #Benghazi Cmte Cummings criticizes doc leak. Says tactic is straight out the partisan playbook of discredited GOP investigations.