January 17, 2019 – Charles Ortel Opinion: The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption
“The recent ruling by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth may become a breakthrough in the 5-year long Clinton email scandal, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik, asking how it happened that the Obama administration, the CIA and FBI had apparently overlooked “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”
“The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money-laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption”, says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, commenting on a US federal judge ordering former Obama officials to answer the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s (JW) questions on Hillary Clinton’s private email issue and the Benghazi scandal.
On 15 January, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, fmr. secretary of state Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap must answer the watchdog’s written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.
BREAKING: Citing government shutdown, DOJ/State seek to stall court-ordered discovery ordered to begin yesterday on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes to Respond to @JudicialWatch Questions Under Oath https://t.co/kka1QCEWtG pic.twitter.com/WYHLLTFP0G
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton)
”In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America’s relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East,” Ortel said. “This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws.” (Read more: Sputnik News, 1/17/2019)
- Barack Obama
- Ben Rhodes
- Bill Priestap
- campaign finance violations
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- charity fraud
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Hillary Clinton
- Jake Sullivan
- January 2019
- Judge Royce C. Lamberth
- possible money-laundering
- public corruption
- Susan Rice
January 15, 2019 – Federal Court orders discovery on Clinton Email, Benghazi scandal
“Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap — will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)
Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:
- Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
- whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
- whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
Judge Lamberth ordered written responses under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions from Obama administration senior officials Rice, Rhodes and Sullivan, and former FBI official Priestap. Rice and Rhodes will answer interrogatories under oath on the Benghazi scandal. Rejecting the State and Justice Department objections to discovery on the infamous Benghazi talking points, Judge Lamberth reiterated:
Yet Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.
Judicial Watch also may serve interrogatories on Monica Hanley, a former staff member in the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, and on Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.
According to Lamberth’s order, regarding whether Clinton’s private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA, Judicial Watch may depose:
- Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.… Boswell’s March 2009 memo to Mills … discusses security risks Clinton’s Blackberry use posed more generally. And Boswell personally discussed the memo with Clinton. So, he plainly has relevant information about that conversation and about his general knowledge of Clinton’s email use. Judicial Watch may depose Boswell.
- Justin Cooper. the Clinton Foundation employee who created the clintonemail.com server. In its proposal, Judicial Watch noted Cooper’s prior congressional testimony “appears to contradict portions of the testimony provided by Huma Abedin in the case before Judge Sullivan.” … Cooper repeatedly told Congress that Abedin helped set-up the Clintons’ private server, e.g., Examining Preservation of State Department Federal Records: [before a Congressional hearing] Abedin testified under oath she did not know about the server until six years later.… Judicial Watch may depose Cooper.
- Clarence Finney, the former deputy director of State’s Executive Secretariat staff…. [T]his case’s questions hinge on what specific State employees knew and when they knew it. As the principal advisor and records management expert responsible for controlling Clinton’s official correspondence and records, Finney’s knowledge is particularly relevant. And especially given the concerns about government misconduct that prompted this discovery, Judicial Watch’s ability to take his direct testimony and ask follow-up questions is critical.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 1/15/2019)
- Ben Rhodes
- Bill Priestap
- Cheryl Mills
- Clarence Finney
- Clinton emails
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Eric Boswell
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Jake Sullivan
- January 2019
- Judge Royce C. Lamberth
- Judicial Watch
- Justin Cooper
- Lauren Jiloty
- Monica Hanley
- private server
- Susan Rice
January 10, 2019 – Judicial Watch to depose former top officials involved in the Clinton email scandal
Judicial Watch announced today that it submitted a court-ordered discovery plan for the depositions of several top former government officials involved in the Clinton email scandal, including Obama administration senior officials Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap.
Judicial Watch “intends to update the Court regarding the depositions of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills at the conclusion of the 16-week discovery period, unless the Court believes such notice is not necessary.” The plan for discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Read the discovery plan here:
August 16, 2018 – Judicial Watch releases newly uncovered Clinton emails, 5 contain classified information
“Judicial Watch today released two batches, 184 pages and 45 pages, of newly uncovered emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Department of State sent and received over her unsecure, non-“state.gov” email system. Five emails contain classified information.
(…) “The documents are part of the accelerated schedule of production ordered by U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg, which requires the State Department to complete processing by September 28, 2018, the remaining documents of the 72,000 pages recovered by the FBI in its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server. These new classified and other emails appear to be among those that Clinton had attempted to delete or had otherwise failed to disclose.
- On June 7, 2011, Clinton received classified information on her non-secure email account from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which Blair also forwarded to Jake Sullivan, about Blair’s Middle East negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians and the French
- On January 26, 2010, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan sent classified information via his unsecure Blackberry to Huma Abedin’s State Department email account that he’d earlier sent to Clinton’s and Abedin’s non-secure @clintonemail.com email accounts about U.K. negotiations with Northern Ireland.
- On October 28, 2010, Clinton exchanges information with her friend Marty Torrey – a congressional aide – who asks Clinton in an email if she would advise that Torrey meet with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Clinton responds through her non-secure email account approving the meeting and notes that she is emailing him from Hanoi, Vietnam.
- An email chain dated April 8, 2010, which contains a memo from Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton related to the change of government in Kyrgyzstan, contains information classified “confidential” and is redacted as “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Blumenthal urges Clinton to “develop relations” with the new government in Kyrgyzstan.
All of this suggests to me the necessity for the State Department to assert itself and take the lead in developing relations with the new government.
- A January 26, 2010, email to Hillary Clinton from her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, is classified “confidential” and contains a “call sheet” that Clinton received prior to placing a call to Northern Ireland political leaders. It appears that the redacted portions contain the names of particular members of Sinn Fein who were invited to a particular meeting and the expectations of either themselves or other foreign ministers for the outcomes of that meeting.
- A June 13, 2009, email to Clinton from Sullivan with the subject line “Northern Ireland” is classified “confidential” and nearly completely redacted. The particular subject details are unclear.
- Abedin emails Clinton about “Invites for the week” in an undated email (but apparently written before November 1, 2011, the day Clinton’s mother died, because her mother is one of the invitees – probably written in early 2009, based on the period most of these emails seem to have been written), and notes that she (Clinton) has a “George Soros lunch from 1-3 in Southampton.”
- On October 20, 2010, lawyer Lanny Davis writes Clinton an email saying, “Thank you H for who you are and what you do,” followed in the exchange by another with “PS. I swear you look younger and better every time I see you, Good night dear Hillary. Lanny.” Mr. Davis is currently a lawyer for Michael Cohen.
- In an undated email, Blumenthal emails Clinton about State Department management issues suggests that Joseph C. Wilson “should be spoken with for his view of dept, personnel…is shrewd.” Wilson is a former ambassador to Gabon who went on to become an Africa consultant and deal-maker.
“These classified Hillary Clinton emails that she tried to hide or destroy show why it is urgent that the DOJ finally undertake an honest criminal investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These emails show how the prior sham investigation by the Comey-Strzok-McCabe-Lynch crowd was a joke. It is past time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to order a new investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 8/16/2018)
July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page discusses the DOJ influence over the FBI’s Clinton email investigation
(…) “Page also repeatedly noted a tension between the FBI and DOJ, noting that the DOJ was far more cautious in their approach to matters and was ultimately responsible for the decision not to prosecute in the Clinton case.
Another aspect that developed in the dynamic between the DOJ and the FBI was pressure from the department to place additional people into the FBI’s investigation. Page noted that “as soon as the planning started to begin to interview some of the more high-profile witness, not just Mrs. Clinton but also Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and her sort of core team, the department wanted to change the sort of structure and the number of people who were involved.”
In particular, David Laufman, a deputy assistant attorney general and head of counterintelligence for the DOJ’s National Security Division at the time, pushed extensively to be present for the higher profile interviews. As Page noted, this quickly spiraled into a problem for the FBI:
“Once we started talking about including David, then the U.S. Attorney’s Office also wanted to participate in the interviews, although they had participated in virtually none by that point. And so, then the U.S. Attorney’s Office was pushing to have the AUSAs [Assistant U.S. Attorney], who were participating in the Clinton investigation, also participate.”
“And so now, all of a sudden, we were going from our standard two and two to this burgeoning number of people.”
Apparently, Laufman felt so strongly that he went to his boss, George Toscas, the deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division, who then approached McCabe directly.
The DOJ’s ongoing influence was felt in other ways as well. Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, both fact witnesses, were allowed to attend Clinton’s interview as her attorneys. As Page admitted, “I would agree with you, that it is not typically appropriate or operationally necessary to have fact witnesses attend the interview.”
The decision to allow attendance of fact witnesses during Clinton’s interview came from the DOJ, although Page said she wasn’t certain who had made the decision. She noted that the FBI protested the move but were overridden, so the decision must have come from a senior level within the DOJ.” (The Epoch Times, 1/21/2019)
May 2, 2018 – Abedin Emails Show Clinton Foundation-State Department Haiti Links
“Judicial Watch today released 894 pages of new State Department documents, including previously unreleased email exchanges in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was sent additional classified information through her unsecure clintonmail.com email account by top aide Huma Abedin. The Abedin emails also include repeated instances of Clinton’s detailed daily schedules being sent to top Clinton Foundation officials at unsecured email addresses.
The records were produced for Judicial Watch by the State Department from the non-state.gov email accounts of Abedin. The records were obtained in response to a court order from a May 5, 2015, lawsuit filed against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) after it failed to respond to a March 18, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking:
- All emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013 using a non-“state.gov” email address.
The new documents included 29 email exchanges not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 317 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department. These records further appear to contradict statements by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails were turned over to the State Department.
The emails show classified information was sent through the clintonemail.com account:
- In a December 21, 2009, email, Clinton top national security and foreign policy staffer Jake Sullivan forwarded an email to Clinton’s unsecured email account containing classified information heavily redacted under FOIA exemption B1.4(D) – “Information specifically authorized by an executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy … Foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Clinton then forwarded the email, concerning the climate change accord, from her unsecured email account to Abedin’s unsecured email account with the message, “Pls print.”
- And, on December 24, 2009, Clinton sent an unsecured email from HDR22@clintonmail.com to then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. The classified email, asking Carson to “Pls review the memcon of my call w [French] FM Kouchener [Redacted].” Information in this message was blacked out using FOIA exemptions B1.4(B) – “Foreign government information” and (D).
- On January 17, 2010, five days after the massive Haitian earthquake, former Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper emails Hillary Clinton’s then- deputy chiefs of staff, Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, to ask if they can do a conference call to discuss Haiti. Clinton Foundation officials Laura Graham and Doug Band are also provided the call-in information for the conference call. (Author Peter Schweizer would later describe in his book “Clinton Cash” how the Obama administration, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, allowed hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funded reconstruction contracts for Haiti to flow through the Clinton Foundation.) “
December 20, 2016 – Hillary deletes an email showing that she forwarded classified information to Chelsea who has no apparent security clearances
“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton deleted an email from 2009 that shows she forwarded classified information to her daughter, Chelsea.
The State Department released the email on Friday, as it is one of thousands that were recovered by the FBI from Clinton’s private email server.
The email chain from December 20, 2009 titled ‘Update,’ began with a message from Michael Froman, who served as deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs and as a deputy assistant to President Obama.
It was then sent to Clinton’s foreign policy adviser at the State Department, Jake Sullivan, along with several aides to the president.
Sullivan then sent it to Clinton who forwarded it to her daughter, who used the pseudonym ‘Diane Reynolds’.
Since it contains classified ‘confidential’ information, the entire text in the body portion of the email has been redacted.
The email was labeled a ‘near duplicate’ by the State Department who indicated it was similar for the most part to others the agency has released from the thousands of emails she turned over in December 2014.
The former first lady did not delete other responses she made to others who were on the email thread from that ‘Update’ email chain. (Read more: The Daily Mail, 11/04/2016)
The FBI never asked Clinton’s aides for all their computers and mobile devices.
Politico reports that the FBI never asked Clinton’s top aides for their computers and mobile devices as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. An unnamed source familiar with the investigation says, “No one was asked for devices by the FBI.”
Because the investigation didn’t have subpoena power, it could only ask for people to cooperate, or make immunity deals with them. The FBI did make an effort to get Clinton’s computers and mobile devices, and made immunity deals with Clinton lawyers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson to get their computer laptops, but FBI requests didn’t go much beyond that.
Bob Goodlatte (R), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says, “The more we learn about the FBI’s initial investigation into Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server, the more questions we have about the thoroughness of the investigation and the administration’s conclusion to not prosecute her for mishandling classified information.”
Politico suggests that the FBI might not have asked for what Clinton’s aides possessed because of a focus on Clinton and her server and mobile devices. “It’s also possible the FBI or prosecutors elected not to demand all the Clinton aides’ computers and other electronics because doing so might have triggered a legal battle that could have slowed the probe.”
The issue about what Clinton’s aides may have possessed came to the fore after the FBI reopened the Clinton email investigation after emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin were discovered on a computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner. In an April 2016 FBI interview and then in a public deposition in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in June 2016, Abedin said she gave her lawyers all devices she thought might contain State Department-related emails. However, it appears no government entity ever asked for any of her devices, so her lawyers never gave them up to anyone.
Abedin was asked for all her work-related emails from her time in the State Department in another FOIA lawsuit, but not the computers or devices the emails were stored on.
The same appears to be true for other top Clinton aides like Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Bryan Pagliano, and others, with the few exceptions noted above.(Politico, 11/1/2016)
Clinton often told an aide to forward Blumenthal’s emails to the White House and others, but the FBI was unable to prove this actually happened.
In the FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report released on this day, the FBI discusses the at least 179 “intelligence memos” Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal emailed to Clinton. Media reports indicate that some memos were accurate and some were totally inaccurate, but none of them were vetted by any US government official, because Blumenthal was and is a private citizen with no security clearance sending the emails directly to Clinton.
According to the FBI report, “Clinton often forwarded the memos to [her aide Jake] Sullivan, asking him to remove information identifying Blumenthal as the originator and to pass the information to other State employees to solicit their input. According to emails between Clinton and Sullivan, Clinton discussed passing the information to the White House, other [US government] agencies, and foreign governments.”
However, the report also mentions that the FBI was unable to determine if any of the memos were actually sent to such recipients, because the State Department didn’t give the FBI any of Sullivan’s emails sent to anyone other than Clinton. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016) (Department of State, 2/29/16)
Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin denied they knew about the existence of Clinton’s private server, despite evidence otherwise.
The FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report, released on this day, mentions: “Clinton’s immediate aides, to include [Cheryl] Mills, [Huma] Abedin, [Jake] Sullivan, and [redacted] told the FBI they were unaware of the existence of the private server until after Clinton’s tenure at [the State Department] or when it became public knowledge. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
However, emails from when Clinton was secretary of state indicate otherwise, at least for Mills and Abedin:
- Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s server that she often used. On February 27, 2010, she sent an email to Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide helping to manage the server, “HRC [Clinton] email coming back—is server okay?” Cooper replied, “UR [You are] funny. We are on the same server.” These emails were sent to Mills as well.
- On January 9, 2011, Cooper sent Abedin an email mentioning that he “had to shut down the server” due to a hacking attack.. He sent her another email later in the day, saying he had to shut it down again.
- On August 30, 2011, State Department Executive Secretary Stephen Mull emailed Mills, Abedin, and two others, informing them that he was trying to give Clinton a State Department-issued Blackberry “to replace her personal unit which is malfunctioning… possibly because of [sic] her personal email server is down.” Abedin sent an email in reply, and a discussion in person apparently followed.
- The FBI’s final report also indicates that Abedin was instrumental in the creation of the server. “At the recommendation of Huma Abedin… in or around fall 2008, [Cooper] contacted Bryan Pagliano… to build the new server system and to assist Cooper with the administration of the new server system.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)