Clinton aides

August 30, 2018 – The State Department revokes Hillary Clinton’s security clearance at her request

Hillary Clinton (Credit: The Associated Press)

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security clearance has been revoked at her request, the State Department told lawmakers, according to a letter made public Friday.

Clinton’s clearance was withdrawn on Aug. 30, according to a letter from the State Department to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which he released.

Five others associated with Clinton, including longtime aide Cheryl Mills, also had their clearances revoked on Sept. 20, according to the letter. The aides were known as “research assistants,” which allowed them to keep their clearances after their time at the department concluded.

The move comes almost a year after Grassley asked the department to investigate and review whether Clinton’s aides still had security clearance.” (Read more: Politico, 10/12/2018)

June 13, 2018 – Court sets hearing on motion to compel email testimony from Hillary Clinton

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/National Law Journal)

“Judicial Watch announced a federal court ordered a hearing for Thursday, October 11, 2018, on a motion to compel testimony about the email practices of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The order was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

(…) “In 2016, Hillary Clinton was required to submit, under oath, written answers to Judicial Watch’s questions. Clinton objected to and refused to answer questions about the creation of her email system; her decision to use the system despite warnings from State Department cybersecurity officials; and the basis for her claim that the State Department had “90-95%” of her emails. Judge Sullivan is considering Judicial Watch’s motion to compel answers to these questions.

In her responses sent to Judicial Watch and the court on October 13, 2016, Clinton refused to answer three questions and responded that she “does not recall” 20 times concerning her non-government clintonemail.com email system. She preceded her responses by eight “general objections” and two “objections to definitions.” The words “object” or “objection” appear 84 times throughout the 23-page document submitted to the court and Judicial Watch.

Judge Sullivan will also hear arguments on Judicial Watch’s motion to compel testimony from former State Department Director of Information Resource Management of the Executive Secretariat John Bentel (who asserted his Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer 87 questions at his deposition) and Judicial Watch’s motion to unseal the audiovisual recordings of all depositions. Judicial Watch took the testimony of key Clinton aides and State Department senior officials, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, but the videotapes of the depositions are currently under seal.”  (Judicial Watch, 6/13/2018)

June 9, 2017 – The State Department is reviewing Clinton’s mishandling of classified information, yet she and her aides retain their security clearances

“The State Department confirmed that it is continuing to review the mishandling of classified information that passed through Secretary Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized email server as she and seven former aides retain access to sensitive information.  In a recent letter from the State Department to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Department outlined its procedures for safeguarding and addressing potential mishandling of classified material and answered questions raised by Grassley in March.

In the letter, the State Department confirmed that it initiated a review of the mishandling of classified information in the unauthorized server matter following the conclusion of the FBI investigation. That review is ongoing and could result in loss of security clearances for violators of the department’s protocols guarding sensitive material.

A snippet of the State Department letter sent to Senator Grassley on May 23, 2017.

The State Department also indicated that Clinton may still access materials that were originated, reviewed, signed or received by her during her tenure at the department, which includes classified information. The State Department had previously informed the Judiciary Committee that seven of Clinton’s former aides were designated as “research assistants,” which allows them to take their State Department-issued clearance with them after their official service at the department concludes, and to retain access to specified information originated by Clinton during her tenure as secretary.

Often, during the course of reviews into mishandling of classified information, security clearances of individuals responsible for a potential breach are suspended. (Senate Judiciary Committee, 6/09/2017)

A senator wants to know if the FBI ever asked for subpoena power in the Clinton email investigation, and if not, why not.

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Following the October 28, 2016 revelation that FBI Director James Comey has at least partially reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sends him a letter with a series of questions.

He points that in May 2016, “I wrote to you expressing concern about the appearance that political appointees at the Justice Department might be withholding approval for the FBI to seek search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. These standard investigative tools are usually approved in criminal investigations of this scope and importance. However, it remains unclear to this day whether the FBI requested the use of a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation to compel documents and testimony, and if so, whether the [Justice Department] denied that request. These concerns are only magnified by these latest developments [regarding the reopening of the investigation].”

He adds, “If the FBI is denied the ability to gather evidence through compulsory means, Secretary Clinton and her aides have enormous leverage to negotiate extraordinary concessions in exchange for voluntary cooperation. It is critical for the public to know whether the FBI has requested from the Justice Department vital investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants and whether it has been denied access to them.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (US Congress, 10/31/2016)

Two days later, it will be reported that the FBI never asked the Justice Department for the grand jury legal backing needed for subpoena power, but this has not been officially confirmed.

On September 28, 2016, Comey hinted that he preferred making immunity deals with key witnesses over using subpoena power in order to bring the investigation to a faster conclusion.

A House panel is looking into Combetta’s post about Clinton’s email server.

Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (R) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reviewing a Reddit post that suggests an IT (Internet technology) specialist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s private server  asked for advice on how to alter the contents of “VERY VIP” emails. Meadows is the chairman of the panel’s Government Operations subcommittee.

Reddit users uncovered a two-year-old post from an account they believe belongs to Paul Combetta, a Platte River Networks employee who helped manage Clinton’s private server. Meadows says, “the Reddit post issue and its connection to Paul Combetta is currently being reviewed by [my] staff and evaluations are being made as to the authenticity of the post. If it is determined that the request to change email addresses was made by someone so closely aligned with the Secretary’s IT operation as Mr. Combetta, then it will certainly prompt additional inquiry.”

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the same House committee, has issued a criminal referral to the US attorney for the District of Columbia. The referral asks that the Justice Department investigate whether Clinton or her aides were involved in the decision to delete the emails while they were under subpoena and a request for preservation of records. (The Hill, 09/19/16)

A judge gives the State Department a tongue-lashing over its slow response to FOIA requests.

US District Court Judge Richard Leon criticizes the State Department over what he calls “foot-dragging” regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

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US DC District Court Judge Richard Leon (Credit: public domain)

Leon warns Justice Department lawyers, “You have a client that, to say the least, is not impressing the judges on this court, myself included. … It is in your client’s interest to start being more obviously cooperative. The State Department is at risk of being perceived as obstreperous. [They] need to get with the program.”

The hearing is due to a FOIA lawsuit trying to force the release of documents on whether Clinton and her aides were trained to handle classified information. The State Department propose a deadline of October 17, 2016 to produce about 450 unclassified documents relating to the issue sought by the Daily Caller.

However, Leon orders the department to process and release of the records by October 10, 2016. (Politico, 09/19/16)

 

Clinton won’t face punishment if she wins the presidency, but some of her former aides could.

Since Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, she is unlikely to face any punishment for her email practices, despite FBI Director James Comey calling her “extremely careless” with highly classified information. Once she officially becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, she will automatically get security briefings. If she wins the presidency in the November 2016 election, she won’t have to apply for a security clearance.

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William Cowden (Credit: public domain)

National security lawyer Gregory Greiner says that if a typical low-level government employee did what Clinton did, “he would have lost his clearance and lost his job.” William Cowden,  a former Justice Department lawyer, similar says, “If she were currently a federal employee, she would be sanctioned.” But Clinton isn’t currently employed in the government, and the FBI chose not to take away Clinton’s security clearance during their investigation into her email practices, even though that is routine in similar cases.

Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security employment law, says he is particularly interested to see whether Clinton’s former aides will get security clearances if she wins the presidency. “Having seen the hundreds of people I’ve represented over a 20-plus year career who have lost their clearances for doing far less” than Clinton and her top aides, “I’m going to be really, really bothered and troubled” if they come out unscathed in the security clearance process.

The Washington Post notes that “losing a security clearance often is the equivalent of being fired. In some agencies, all jobs or most of the good ones, require a security clearance. Many of the individual contractors who work for those agencies also must have a security clearance. If you lose it, you could lose the ability to work in your field.” (The Washington Post, 7/7/2016)

The Justice Department won’t pursue an indictment against Clinton, ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

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Loretta Lynch holds a press conference on June 29, 2016 to explain her private meeting with Bill Clinton at the Arizona airport. (Credit: ABC News)

One day after FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not give the Justice Department a recommendation to indict Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department agrees with Comey and will not pursue the indictment. Comey did not publicly discuss Clinton’s former aides, but Lynch says there will not be any indictments of her aides either. She also announces that this closes the investigation into Clinton’s email practices during her tenure as secretary of state.

Lynch says, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”

On July 1, 2016, Lynch said she would accept whatever recommendations Comey and her top prosecutors would give after it was discovered she’d had a meeting with Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, several days earlier.

Lynch’s announcement comes one day before Comey is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee, in order to explain his decision to not recommend any indictments.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus criticizes Lynch’s decision, saying, “By so blatantly putting its political interests ahead of the rule of law, the Obama administration is only further eroding the public’s faith in a government they no longer believe is on their side.” (Politico, 7/6/2016)

Some of Clinton’s emails may remain private because of a legal precedent involving former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger participate in "Conversations on Diplomacy, Moderated by Charlie Rose,” at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Clinton and Henry Kissinger in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. (Credit: Jewel  Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Kissinger made transcripts of some of his work-related phone calls. After he left office in January 1977, he took the only copies with him and eventually had them transferred to the Library of Congress, with tight restrictions on who could access them. A watchdog group sued for access, but the US Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the State Department had no obligation to search for documents that had been removed, even if they had been improperly taken.

However, there is a footnote written by Justice William Rehnquist that the ruling might not apply when someone is actively trying to thwart the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In two ongoing civil suits, judges have granted discovery to Judicial Watch in part to determine if Clinton or her aides had actively tried to thwart FOIA. That opens the possibility of a judge eventually ordering Clinton to hand over even the emails she deemed personal, if she still has them. (Time, 5/5/2016)

March 1, 2016 – Judicial Watch obtains Strzok-Page emails showing FBI’s special accommodation of Clinton email witnesses

Beth Wilkinson and Cheryl Mills briefly walk out of their interview with the FBI on May 10, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

“Judicial Watch announced today it received 35 pages of records of communications between former FBI official Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page that show the attorney representing three of Hillary Clinton’s aides met with senior FBI officials.

(…) On March 1, 2016 an unidentified official from the FBI Office of General Counsel asks Baker if he’d had a chance to speak with Wilkinson, noting “CES [Counterespionage Section] wants to reach out to discuss scheduling additional interviews but wanted some feedback from you first.” Baker replies, “Just did… She appreciated the heads up about the pending press articles. She wants to meet with the DD [Deputy Director] but can only meet on the weekends right now. I will check his availability tomorrow.”

In a follow-up email thread on March 4, Wilkinson tells Baker that she would be able to do the meeting with McCabe that day. Baker forwards the note to McCabe, saying “Andy, do you want to try to do this today?”, and copies numerous top FBI officials, including Michael Steinbach, Bill Priestap, Trisha Anderson, and Page. Page forwards the note to Strzok. Strzok then tells Page that he’s been “Talking to DOJ, they ([George] Toscas and CES) have strong opinions about it. Call me.” Page replies, “He’s not calling. Don’t worry about it.” Strzok then adds, “Also you need to know what [redacted] and she discussed. I can tell you over lunch…”

In a March 4, 2016, email with the subject line “Interview,” Baker emails the same top FBI officials, saying that he’s just spoken with Wilkinson and “I think we are now back on track. She is going to call [redacted] today or tomorrow about scheduling the next interview. Given the witness’s personal schedule, Beth said that it may not happen for a few weeks but she will work that out with [redacted].  We also discussed making sure that this is done in a secure location in a discreet way; she will work with [redacted] and the FBI team on that as well but I said that we will make sure that it happens in a high-quality way.”

In a follow-up email sent only to Strzok, Baker writes, “She understands that it needs to be in a SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility]. She seems more comfortable with NYFO [New York Field Office], but I think would be open to WFO [Washington Field Office] if she can get in and out in a discreet manner (i.e., no chance of a press stakeout or too many people in the office seeing them and having awareness of what is going on). Is there an offsite somewhere in the DC area that might be better? If so, don’t tell me where it is.”

On March 20, 2016, Strzok emails FBI Deputy Assistant Director Moffa, writing: “Big news of the day? Beth [presumably Wilkinson] said none of the laptops we have had the original 60k [presumably Hillary’s 60,000 emails]. The two that did were – and are – the personal laptops of Cheryl [Mills] and Heather [Samuelson]. [Redacted] That they are still using now. Funny that never cane [sic] up before now.” Strzok forwards this email with Moffa on to Page with the note: “My frustration.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 11/22/2019)  (Archive)