“Judicial Watch today released two sets of heavily redacted State Department documents, 38 pages and 48 pages, showing classified information was researched and disseminated to multiple U.S. Senators by the Obama administration immediately prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The documents reveal that among those receiving the classified documents were Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN).
Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a June 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department after it failed to respond to a February 2018 request seeking records of the Obama State Department’s last-minute efforts to share classified information about Russia election interference issues with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:18-cv-01381)).
The documents reveal the Obama State Department urgently gathering classified Russia investigation information and disseminating it to members of Congress within hours of Donald Trump taking office.
- In a Thursday, January 5, 2017, email chain then-State Department Congressional Advisor Hera Abassi indicates that then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s bureau was attempting to get Russian investigation related documents to the office of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) office as quickly as possible. (In June 2016 Nuland permitted a meeting between Steele and the FBI’s legal attaché in Rome. Nuland told CBS News that the State Department knew about the Steele dossier by July 2016.)
In the email, with the subject line “For Immediate Review – Call Sheet for S Call with Senator Warner,” Abassi writes:
“I told Cardin’s folks … that the process is long. Can we ensure that there are no holdups on our end?”
Minutes later, Abassi confirms that Nuland was fully aware of the information that the State Department was providing to members of Congress alleging Russia interference information:
“This is definitely on EUR A/S radar!”
- Leaving no doubt that the State Department officials knew they were transmitting classified information, in a Wednesday, January 18, 2017, email with the subject line “Cables/M,” Former Foreign Service Officer Kerem Bilge writes to State Department Congressional advisor Hilary Johnson and others: “Highest class is SECRET/NOFORN.”
“FYI – so we can keep the SECRET/NOFORN header, and should declassify it 25 years from tomorrow.
“I forwarded the fully cleared version to the two of you on the high side [Editor’s Note: “high side” is State Department term for high security classification system], but let me know if there’s anything else you need from me on this.
“Note: we’ll need to make sure there is someone in Senate security tomorrow who can accept these.”
- On Wednesday, January 18, 2017, Johnson confirms that classified documents were sent to Senator Corker in addition to Senator Cardin. “Flagging that I sent you a high side request for clearance of the draft transmittal letter to send documents to Senators Corker and Cardin.”
Additionally, involved in providing classified information to members of the Senate was Naz Durakoglu, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. In an email dated Thursday, January 19, 2017, with the subject line “Signed, sealed, delivered” Durakoglu apparently confirms that Obama State Department officials were eager to provide the classified material before Trump was sworn into office: “We made the deadline!” Durakoglu states [Emphasis added] “Thank you everyone for what was truly a Department-wide effort!”