Steve Linick

October 2, 2019 – Closed-door State Department IG meeting disappoints U.S. media

“For two days the mainstream media were breathlessly reporting on an “urgent request” from the State Department Inspector General for a closed-door meeting.

Media sources whipped their left-wing audiences into an anticipatory frenzy with predictions of devastating information soon to come from an “explosive” and “highly unusual” request.  It must be connected to President Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo hiding devastating information, they said

Well, the super-anticipated ‘closed-door’ briefing was held today, and the IG handed out packets of information related to revelations of Democrats colluding with the Ukraine government.  The exact opposite of what the media and the professional left anticipated.

WASHINGTON –  The State Department’s Inspector General shared a packet of months-old news stories and other Ukraine-related documents during an “urgent” briefing with Congressional staffers on Wednesday, sources told the Daily Caller.

Sources familiar with the meeting said the IG handed over a packet containing, among other old materials, news articles written this past spring by The Hill’s John Solomon about Democratic ties to Ukraine.

[…]  The briefing was a huge blow to Democrats, who were expecting bombshell information regarding the Trump administration’s contact with Ukraine and investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.

In fact, several news outlets reported earlier in the day that the briefing would be about State Department leadership retaliating against career employees who wanted to cooperate with the Democrats’ investigation into Trump. (read more)

Whether the briefing was a set-up to embarrass the media is now being debated.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/02/2019)

September 12, 2019 – Grassley and Johnson ask State OIG why he failed to issue report on his investigation into the meeting between Steele and State Dept officials, before the Carter Page FISA application

“U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick today seeking an explanation as to why his office did not issue a report on its investigation into the October 2016 meeting between Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence employee Tatyana Duran, then-Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec, and then-Special Envoy Jonathan Winer. The senators also seek to understand why the state department OIG did not interview all parties present at that October 2016 meeting.

“We write seeking to understand why the OIG did not issue a report on its investigation and did not interview employees who most likely have relevant information regarding the subject matter of the inquiry,” the senators wrote.

The senators asked the state department OIG about its failure to interview Mr. Winer in light of him introducing Mr. Steele to high-ranking state department officials with direct access to their counterparts at the FBI days before the FBI sought a FISA order to surveil a Trump campaign official.

The senators also learned the state department OIG discovered at least one department official, Mr. Winer, utilized non-official email accounts to conduct official department business, and they have requested an explanation as to why the OIG did not interview Mr. Winer about his use of personal email when he directed others to upload those emails to classified systems within the department.  In addition, the senators learned that the state department OIG determined a department employee may have engaged in anti-Trump political conduct, in violation of the Hatch Act, and the OIG referred that individual to the Office of Special Counsel for Investigation. That Hatch Act investigation is ongoing.

The Office of Special Counsel is the permanent, independent investigative agency for personnel matters in the federal government and is not related to Robert Mueller’s temporary prosecutorial office within the justice department.

The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Sens. Johnson and Grassley’s May 9, 2019, letters to the state department and the FBI can be viewed here.

(GrassleySenate.gov, 9/12/2019)

September 12, 2019 – State Dept official Jonathan Winer used a personal email account to hide his communications with Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson

Senators Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley have a few questions that are put in a letter dated September 12, 2019, to State Department OIG Steve Linick who reviewed a meeting between State Dept officials and Christopher Steele. The review or lack thereof appears to have left them with more questions than answers. Here is a clipping of the relevant part of their letter:

(Grassley/Johnson/Linick Letter, 9/12/2019)

The State Department’s internal watchdog slams the department’s FOIA process.

The State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick issues a report claiming that the department “repeatedly provided inadequate and inaccurate responses to Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests involving top agency officials, including a misleading answer to a request three years ago seeking information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email use.”

Politico states the new report also points to “a series of failures in the procedures the office of the secretary used to respond to public records requests, including a lack of written policies and training, as well as inconsistent oversight by senior personnel.”

According to the report, “These procedural weaknesses, coupled with the lack of oversight by leadership and failure to routinely search emails, appear to contribute to inaccurate and incomplete responses.”

CREW's Logo (Credit: CREW)

CREW’s Logo (Credit: CREW)

One important flawed department response was a letter sent to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in May 2013 after the organization asked for details on email accounts used by Clinton. State’s response to CREW was, “no records responsive to your request were located.” The report says the inspector general’s office “found evidence that [Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills] was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up.” However, according to the report, none of those officials appear to have reviewed the results of the search done in the department’s files, and there was “no evidence” that those staffers who did the search and responded to CREW knew about Clinton’s private email setup.  CREW followed up last year by saying it never received any final response to its FOIA request.

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

Other flaws pointed out by the inspector general’s report include extreme delays in other cases, such as an Associated Press FOIA request for Clinton’s schedules that was pending without substantive response for five years.

Politico also filed a FOIA request for legal and ethics reviews of former President Bill Clinton’s paid speeches. That request was pending for four years before the department began producing records.

The Gawker Logo (Credit: Gawker Media)

Another failed response involved a Gawker request for emails that former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines exchanged with 34 news organizations. Politico reports “that request initially received a “no records” response from [the] State [Department], even though State has now found 81,000 potentially responsive emails in its official files. At a court hearing last month, a government lawyer would not concede that the no-records response was inadequate.” (Politico, 1/7/2016)

Clinton falsely claims she was allowed to use her private email account for work.

In Clinton’s United Nations press conference, she states, “The laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed.” (CBS News, 3/10/2015)

150310LinickMcCulloughCSpan

Jennifer L. Costello, assistant inspector general (left), inspectors general from the State Department, Steve Linick (center), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Charles McCullough (right), are swearing in to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

However, a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude that while it was permissible for a department employee to have a private email account and use it occasionally, it was not allowed to use one exclusively for work matters. Plus, she was required to get approval from other department officials to use a mobile device, to use a private server, and more, and she never did. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

In July 2016, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, author of the May 2016 report, will be specifically asked under oath in a Congressional hearing about Clinton’s above comment. He will reply, “I can tell you our report said that she didn’t have approval from senior officials at the department. And we don’t believe it was permitted, both under the rules, and none of the senior officials who were there at the time gave her approval or were even aware that she had a server, according to them. So, let me see if I can digest that long answer into a very short, concise statement. It is not an accurate statement.” (C-SPAN, 7//7/2016)