So much for “asked and not answered” as a campaign strategy. Two Inspectors General at the State Department have requested that the Department of Justice open a criminal probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server after finding reason to believe it was used for transmitting “hundreds of potentially classified e-mails.” The New York Times broke the story last night — but they weren’t quite done with it, to which we’ll return in a moment.
The two IGs flagged this issue with the State Department a month ago in a memo to a familiar person in the Libya mess:
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.
The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.” The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management. …
In the course of the email review, State Department officials determined that some information in the messages should be retroactively classified. In the 3,000 pages that were released, for example, portions of two dozen emails were redacted because they were upgraded to “classified status.” But none of those were marked as classified at the time Mrs. Clinton handled them.
In a second memo to Mr. Kennedy, sent on July 17, the inspectors general said that at least one email made public by the State Department contained classified information. The inspectors general did not identify the email or reveal its substance.
Patrick Kennedy, one should recall, was the man responsible for security decisions in Benghazi, but whom the so-called Accountability Review Board never bothered to question in its investigation into the sacking of the consulate. He’s a long-time Clintonista, so it’s not exactly a surprise that this request never made it outside of State. Four weeks later, the IGs have decided that they have to go around Kennedy and State to get eyes on the question of whether Clinton transmitted classified information through her private system — which would indeed be a crime — and just how much went through.
Nor is that the only evidence of State Department stonewalling to come to light, as the NYT’s Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo report:
On Monday, a federal judge sharply questioned State Department lawyers at a hearing in Washington about why they had not responded to Freedom of Information Act requests from The Associated Press, some of which were four years old.
“I want to find out what’s been going on over there — I should say, what’s not been going on over there,” said Judge Richard J. Leon of United States District Court, according to a transcript obtained by Politico. The judge said that “for reasons known only to itself,” the State Department “has been, to say the least, recalcitrant in responding.”
In other words, there has been a systematic attempt to stonewall all of the investigations into State Department activities. Patrick Kennedy seems to be one of the choke points, but Trey Gowdy plans to take this to the top. They have announced that they will summon John Kerry’s chief of staff to explain why documents demanded by the select committee on Benghazi have not been forthcoming. Perhaps they can share the answer with Judge Leon.
It’s a pretty bad story for Team Hillary, but it could have been worse. In fact, it was a little worse on initial publication, Politico’s Dylan Byers reports, and then the Paper of Record watered it down a bit later in the night — even to change the article’s URL:
The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation “into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.”
That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry “into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.”
The Times also changed the headline of the story, from “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” to “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton’s possible role. The article’s URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.
As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.
Will the Department of Justice actually open an investigation into these IG concerns? On one hand, it will be difficult for the Obama administration to shrug off security violations after allowing the worst cyberwar defeat in American history for more than a year. On the other hand, it’s Obama, and it’s the Clintons. Even if the DoJ takes up the case, don’t expect it to be anything more than a stall tactic.