How could Cheryl Mills still have an active top-secret clearance while the FBI probes Hillary Clinton’s secret e-mail server and the massive amount of classified information transmitted through it? Charles Grassley may want to start demanding answers to that question. Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne report in an exclusive that despite common practice, Mills has been allowed to keep her clearance — because Hillary requested it:
Current and former intelligence officials say it is standard practice to suspend a clearance pending the outcome of an investigation. Yet in the case of Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, two letters indicate this practice is not being followed — even as the Clinton email system remains the subject of an FBI investigation.
In an Oct. 30, 2015, letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa — who has been aggressively investigating the Clinton email case — Mills’ lawyer Beth A. Wilkinson confirmed that her client “has an active Top Secret clearance.” The letter said previous reporting from the State Department that the clearance was no longer active was wrong and due to “an administrative error.”
A second letter dated Feb. 18, 2016, from the State Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Julia Frifield, provided additional details to Grassley about the “administrative error.” It, too, confirmed Mills maintained the top secret clearance.
Hillary tasked Mills with researching through government records more than two years ago, long before the existence of the e-mail server became known. Mills had left State when Hillary did, about eleven months prior to this designation, but her clearances would not necessarily have been closed out with her departure. One might think that her access to certain programs would and should have been curtailed — especially the “special access programs” that ended up in the Hillary e-mail system. Those are so closely held that they’re more eyes-only than Top Secret.
Clinton had the privilege of assigning an aide as a researcher (as other former government officials routinely do), but shouldn’t that privilege have ended with the discovery of Hillary’s unauthorized and unsecured e-mail system, and the evidence that more than 1500 messages contained classified information ranging from Confidential to Top Secret and the SAP designations — including HCS-0 denoting critical human intelligence? Fox’s source, who has decades of experience in these matters, certainly believes so:
Dan Maguire, a former strategic planner with Africom who has 46 years combined service, told Fox News his current and former colleagues are deeply concerned a double standard is at play.
“Had this happened to someone serving in the government, their clearance would have already been pulled, and certainly they would be under investigation. And depending on the level of disclosure, it’s entirely possible they would be under pretrial confinement for that matter,” Maguire explained. “There is a feeling the administration may want to sweep this under the rug.”
The other interpretation here may be that the State Department isn’t going to budge in its defense of their operation during the Clinton years. They have almost entirely argued that the issues in the classified-information spillage have more to do with disputes over the necessity of classifying the data at all — although they backed off from that when the SAP data was found, deciding that even a redacted version of the e-mails was too dangerous for release in 29 cases. State might be keeping Mills’ clearance in place to give the impression that there’s nothing to see here, and people should just move along.
It’s also possible — although it seems unlikely — that the FBI has told them that Mills won’t be a target in the probe. That would be curious, to say the least, since the FBI does not rule out potential targets until the investigation concludes. Any way one cuts it, though, this is a very odd development under the circumstances, and Grassley should start asking for some explanations.
Meanwhile, the State Department has suddenly discovered 1600 pages of previously unacknowledged material relating to Benghazi in its coffers, Politico reports. And that material involves Hillary’s “top aides”:
Minutes before the new set of emails was posted on the State Department website Friday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi announced that the agency just handed over more than 1,600 additional pages of Libya-related records — a disclosure that comes about four months after Clinton took the stand to testify.
The State Department in early January told a federal court in a FOIA lawsuit that it recently discovered a new batch of documents from the Office of the Secretary, which could have included materials from Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and deputy chiefs of staff like Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, among others schedulers. A State official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the records sent to the Hill Friday are from this trove. …
In a court filing earlier this month, State said officials originally overlooked the records because they didn’t realize some of the documents had been “retired” to State archives, but Benghazi Committee Republicans took it as what they’ve called ongoing stonewalling from the administration. “The administration still has not turned over records this committee requested nearly a year ago,” the GOP-controlled panel tweeted.
It’s interesting that State buried that release with the final tranche of Hillary’s e-mails, eh? In October, Hillary and the White House both argued that the select committee was just a rehash of other investigations, but State keeps somehow finding material they’ve never released before on the subject. That seems like the same pattern of denial that State used for FOIA demands during and after Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State, does it not?