Tuesday, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a federal judge ordered the State Department to do a search of its own email archives for anything Hillary Clinton may have written about Benghazi. From Politico:
In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, State searched the roughly 30,000 messages Clinton turned over to her former agency at its request in December 2014 after officials searching for Benghazi-related records realized she had used a personal email account during her four-year tenure as secretary.
State later searched tens of thousands of emails handed over to the agency by three former top aides to Clinton: Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan. Finally, State searched a collection of emails the FBI assembled when it was investigating Clinton’s use of the private account and server.
In all, State found 348 Benghazi-related messages or documents that were sent to or from Clinton in a period of nearly five months after the attack…
Justice Department lawyers representing State argued that making them search other employees’ accounts for Clinton’s emails would set a bad precedent that would belabor other FOIA searches.
In March 2015, Clinton gave a public statement about her email server in which she said she believed anything she emailed to people on their state.gov accounts would be archived. “The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department,” Hillary claimed. So, apparently, this is how Hillary expected her emails to be preserved, making it necessary to search the accounts of her subordinates to locate her emails. Now lawyers are claiming that would be too much work.
The real question, which can probably never be answered, is what emails she deleted as “personal” before turning her work emails over to the State Department. I wrote about this several times last year, but there seemed to be some Clintonian parsing going on in the explanations offered by her camp about what was turned over. In any case, we know that dozens of work-related emails were not turned over by Hillary. They had, at some point, been removed from the list of documents she gave to the State Department in late 2014.
I’m skeptical that anything significant will turn up from this search of the state.gov email system. Hillary created this system to cover her tracks and had two years to do just that after she left office. Besides, I doubt we could find an email more incriminating than the email Hillary sent to her daughter Chelsea the night of the attack. From the Washington Post:
“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow. Let’s try again later.”
Clinton appears to be ascribing the attack to a terrorist group, although the Obama administration later described it as the result of a spontaneous protest. Families of some of the four Americans killed in Benghazi have previously complained that the Clinton emails appear to show her passing along information about the attacks that they claim was denied to them.
Instead of that fairly clear assessment of what really happened, i.e. “by an Al Queda-like group,” we got 2 weeks of the administration claiming this was a protest gone wrong. Hillary, perhaps wisely, ducked out of backing this claim, instead opting to let Susan Rice appear on five Sunday news shows following the attack.