New emails show possible Benghazi deception by Hillary Clinton, Obama admin
Congress released nearly 200 pages of newly uncovered emails involving former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, raising questions Monday about whether the Obama administration and the Democratic presidential candidate herself were truthful when they said they turned over all of her email communications on Benghazi.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the select House committee looking into the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya, demanded the State Department say whether it has the emails — a way of testing whether the administration withheld them against the wishes of the committee, or whether Mrs. Clinton never turned them over in the first place, contradicting her public statements.
Mr. Gowdy gave the department a deadline of the end of the day Monday.
“Once again the Benghazi Committee uncovers information that should already be part of the public record but was not made available to the American people or congressional investigators,” Mr. Gowdy said.
The new emails were between Mrs. Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime aide who had no official position in the State Department but whom the Clintons appeared to rely on for advice and political intelligence work.
Mr. Blumenthal turned them over to the committee himself and has also been deposed by the committee behind closed doors.
Democrats countered that “many” of the emails had been turned over before and said Mr. Gowdy’s decision to release the set Monday was a political effort to tar Mrs. Clinton.
“Before today, Chairman Gowdy had not officially released a single email from a single witness in this entire investigation, which has lasted more than a year. Now, he has apparently decided that this one witness is so critical that his emails — and his alone — must be released,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Benghazi probe.
Mrs. Clinton has admitted she set up and used her own email server and account during her time at the State Department, which meant her communications weren’t able to be searched under open-records or congressional information requests, as required by law.
Prodded by Mr. Gowdy’s committee last year, nearly two years after she left office Mrs. Clinton turned over to the State Department about 30,000 messages she decided were related to official business. She said she withheld and expunged another 32,000 messages, and says she has wiped the server clean to prevent anyone from recovering any of them.
The State Department is under a court order to produce all of the emails publicly, though it claimed to have already given Mr. Gowdy’s committee all emails related to the Benghazi investigation.
Mr. Gowdy said the latest releases, however, poke a hole in that version, saying that either Mrs. Clinton didn’t actually turn over all appropriate messages to her former employer, or else the State Department didn’t comply with the committee’s demand for information.
“These emails should have been part of the public record when Secretary Clinton left office and at a bare minimum included when the State Department released Clinton’s self-selected records on Libya,” Mr. Gowdy said.
He also questioned the propriety of Mrs. Clinton relying on Mr. Blumenthal for external advice on Libya, given that the State Department had its own intelligence gathering tools that she should have been using.
Democrats have called for Mr. Gowdy to release the transcript of the committee’s deposition of Mr. Blumenthal, which took place last week, saying it would show there was nothing nefarious in the arrangement between him and Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Cummings said the transcript has been available since last week and would put the new emails in context.
“By the chairman’s own admission, these emails have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi, and their selective release demonstrates the Select Committee’s singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president,” the congressman said.