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)
A former NSA official says what Clinton’s emails revealed about NSA collection methods caused “much worse” damage than leaks from Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning or any other whistleblowers.
William Binney is a former NSA official who was harassed by the US government for several years for blowing the whistle on a wasteful NSA program. (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)
Binney worked at the NSA for 36 years, reaching the position of senior technical director and managing 6,000 employees. He believes Clinton’s poor email security has been “devastating” for US national security due to the revelation of some intelligence collection methods. (Washingtonsblog.com, 7/7/2016)
Binney points in particular to an email sent to Clinton by her confidant Sid Blumenthal on June 8, 2011. It mentioned conversations by rebel generals in Sudan that had taken place less than 24 hours earlier. (US Department of State, 1/6/2016)
This email revealed details of NSA collection abilities, and was based on four NSA reports, all of them classified at the “top secret / special intelligence” (TSSI) level, including at least one issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling code for extraordinarily sensitive information, such as decrypted conversations between top foreign leaders. (The New York Observer, 3/18/2016)
Binney concludes, “All in all, this is a rather devastating compromise of technical capability and a commensurate loss of high value intelligence. … In my view, this is much worse than what Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or any of the other whistleblowers have done. Some are in prison for as many as 35 years. Others have just been ruined and kept from getting anything but menial jobs. But, those in high positions get a pass for much worse offenses.” (Washingtonsblog.com, 7/7/2016)
Clinton’s official calendar omits dozens of meetings with donors and other outside interests.
In August 2013, the Associated Press (AP) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Clinton’s calendar and schedules from the State Department. After years of delays and denials, AP recently got about one-third of Clinton’s planning schedules from when she was secretary of state, and will be getting more.
A comparison of the planning schedules with Clinton’s 1,500-page official calendar shows “at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded,” or for which the names of those she met were omitted. At least 114 outsiders attended these meetings. Only seven meetings were replaced on the calendar by other events, while more than sixty meetings were either omitted entirely or described briefly as “private meetings” without mention of who attended. The missing meetings involve “private dinners and meetings with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders, and ‘drop-bys’ with old Clinton campaign hands and advisers.”
For instance, meetings with controversial Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal are not mentioned, nor are meetings with billionaire Haim Saban, a major donor to Clinton’s political campaigns who also has given at least $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. A Clinton spokesperson says this merely shows that some records are more detailed than others. But AP points out that on the same days the names of donors Clinton meets with are omitted, the names of all the participants in other meetings are given.
Five former State Department logistics officials say that some previous secretaries of state omitted some details from their official calendars, but only for special occasions, such as medical appointments, and not meetings with donors or political interests. It is not known who edited Clinton’s official calendar. It also does not appear any federal laws were broken, although there are department rules against altering or deleting information.
Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), comments: “It’s clear that any outside influence needs to be clearly identified in some way to at least guarantee transparency. That didn’t happen. These discrepancies are striking because of her possible interest at the time in running for the presidency.” (The Associated Press, 6/24/2016)
Blumenthal is interviewed by the FBI, and is asked about his intelligence memos to Clinton.
Sid Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, reporter, and Clinton Foundation employee in the years Clinton is secretary of state. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.
The FBI identified at least 179 out of the over 800 emails that Blumenthal sent to Clinton containing information in an intelligence memo format. The State Department determined that 24 Blumenthal memos that contained information currently classified as “confidential,” as well as one classified as “secret” both currently and when it was sent.
Blumenthal tells the FBI that the content of the memos was provided to him from a number of different sources, including former US government officials and contacts, as well as contacts within foreign governments.
(In one email to Clinton, Blumenthal mentioned intelligence that he said came from an active US official, but apparently the FBI doesn’t ask him about this. The FBI report also will not mention emails in which Clinton sent Blumenthal classified information, despite him having no security clearance.)
Blumenthal’s memos contained a notation of “CONFIDENTIAL” in all capital letters. He claims this meant the memos were personal in nature and didn’t refer to the US government category of classified information at the “confidential” level.
Blumenthal claims he was not tasked to provide this information to Clinton, but he sent the emails because he thought they could be helpful. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Huma Abedin is interviewed under oath; she claims she knew Clinton exclusively used a private email address, but very few other State Department officials did.
Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin is interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee. She makes the following claims in her testimony:
- While she was at the State Department she was aware that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account for all her email communications. However, although many higher-ups in the State Department know Clinton used a personal email account, none of them knew that she used it exclusively.
- Asked if she ever had any conversation with Clinton “about using personal email versus official email” prior to Clinton becoming secretary of state, Abedin replies, “It doesn’t mean it’s out of the realm of possibility, but I don’t recall any specific conversations with her.”
- When asked if she was aware that Clinton’s email account was maintained on a private server, she replies, “I know it was an email address that was provided by the IT [information technology] person in President Clinton’s office. [She later identifies this as Justin Cooper.] I’m not certain that I was aware of what server it was on or not on.” However, she says she was “absolutely” certain it wasn’t on a State Department server.
- She had three email accounts: a state.gov one, a Yahoo mail one, and a clintonemail.com one.
- Anyone who asked for Clinton’s private email address was given it, and she doesn’t recall a time when a person was denied it.
She knew Sid Blumenthal well from her earlier work under the Clintons going back to when Bill Clinton was president, she never saw him at the State Department and didn’t have communication with him by phone or email. She was only dimly aware of how often he emailed Clinton because she would print out his emails for Clinton sometimes.
- She had a “top secret” security clearance while she worked at the State Department but it lapsed shortly after she left the department in early 2013 and she doesn’t have one anymore. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)
Two Clinton associates are privately critical of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal.
Politico reports that Blumenthal was paid $10,000 per month by the Clinton Foundation while Clinton served as secretary of state, and “Some officials at the charity grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons.” (Politico, 5/28/2016)
In an apparent reaction to this, Neera Tanden, president of the left-wing think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP), writes sarcastically in an email to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, “Sidney sure is the gift that keeps giving!”
Podesta replies, “It always amazes me that people like Sid either completely lack self awareness or self respect. Maybe both. Will you promise to shoot me if I ever end up like that?” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)
On January 1, 2016, Podesta will also discuss Blumenthal with Brent Budowsky, a political commentator and longtime Clinton supporter. Podesta will write in an email, “Sid is lost in his own web of conspiracies. I pay zero attention to what he says.” (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)
Blumenthal sent over 800 emails to Clinton while she was secretary of state, and she often complimented them and/or forwarded them to others.
There allegedly is a “massive” FBI investigation of Guccifer’s hack into Blumenthal’s emails.
In March 2013, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal’s email account was broken into by the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, and some emails between Blumenthal and Clinton were publicly revealed. Cody Shearer was a business partner with Blumenthal in a company called Osprey Global Solutions that is sometimes mentioned in the hacked emails.
When contacted by Gawker for a comment about such emails, Shearer says that “the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information.”
Nothing else is known about this investigation, presuming it exists. Shearer is also described by Gawker as “a longtime Clinton family operative.” (Gawker, 3/27/2015)
Cheryl Mills expresses concerns to Bryan Pagliano about the security of Clinton’s private email server after the Guccifer hack.
On March 14, 2013, the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and made Clinton’s private email address public. Cheryl Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff until January 2013, when both she and Clinton left the State Department. But Mills continues to assist Clinton, and in August 2016 she will mention in written answers to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that she was concerned at this time how the Guccifer hack could impact the running of Clinton’s private email server.
She says she discussed the issue with Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s computer technician “in or around March 2013, when the email account of Sidney Blumenthal was compromised by a hacker known as Guccifer. As I recall, these discussions involved whether this event might affect Secretary Clinton’s email.”
Clinton changed her email address several days after the Guccifer hack was discovered. However, the server continued to operate and her new email address was also hosted on the same server. It is still unknown whether Pagliano or anyone else took any other security steps in response to the hack. (Politico, 8/10/2016)
Blumenthal starts getting paid an “eye-popping” salary for part-time work at Clinton-affiliated organizations.
When Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal will be questioned by the House Benghazi Committee in June 2015, he will reveal that in addition to the $120,000 a year he is paid for working at the Clinton Foundation, starting at “the very end of 2012,” he is also paid about $200,000 a year consulting part-time for Media Matters and related organizations. He will also say at the time of the interview that he is still being paid that much or even more.
Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who also will run Clinton’s main Super PAC in her 2016 presidential campaign. Additionally, Blumenthal will say he works for Correct the Record, American Bridge, and American Independent Institute, which also are pro-Clinton organizations run by Brock.
In June 2016, when this information is publicly revealed by accident in a document released by Congressional Democrats, the Los Angeles Times will call Blumenthal’s part-time salary an “eye-popping amount of money” which “exposes once again the absurd amounts of money people in the orbit of the Clintons sometimes seem to rake in just for, well, being in the orbit of the Clintons.” (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016) (Fox News, 6/19/2015)
Blumenthal appears to be secretly working with the State Department to influence the media’s portrayal of Clinton and the department on Benghazi.
Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the message, “Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear. Philippe can circulate these links. Sid.” The email also includes links to four recent Media Matters stories questioning aspects of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation of the government’s response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that is very critical of Clinton and her State Department. For instance, one of the stories, published the same day Blumenthal’s email is written, has the title: “Right-Wing Media’s Libya Consulate Security Mythology Falls Apart.”
None of the articles have a Blumenthal by-line, but his “got this done” comment suggests he is somehow involved in making them. Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who will later head Clinton’s main Super PAC for her 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton replies with the message “Passing on,” and forwards the email to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, as Blumenthal requested. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 9/26/2012) (Media Matters, 10/9/2012)
In June 2015, Blumenthal will reveal under oath that he was paid around $200,000 a year by Media Matters for a part-time consulting beginning in late 2012, or around the time of this email. (Fox News, 6/19/2015) (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016)
In early 2009, President Obama banned Clinton from giving Blumenthal a State Department job, but this email suggests the ban was not entirely effective.