Get ready for another round of “what difference at this point does it make?” The New York Times got a look at 850 pages from the first tranche of Hillary Clinton e-mails that the State Department will release shortly, after a court ordered rolling disclosures rather than a document dump in January. One nugget shows that Hillary had disseminated information that conflicted with the administration’s narrative on the Benghazi attack:
The emails also show that Mrs. Clinton was circulating information about the attacks in Benghazi that contradicted the Obama administration’s initial narrative of what occurred, and that she was concerned about how Republicans could use the incidents to undermine President Obama.
In a separate article, the NYT elaborates on the e-mails — and they show why the Benghazi Select Committee went to the trouble of subpoenaing Sidney Blumenthal. On the day after the attack, Blumenthal chalked it up to the same cause that the White House pushed for at least two weeks, a demonstration over a YouTube video that spiraled out of control. The very next day, however, Blumenthal had changed his tune, emphasis mine:
The next day [September 13], Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a more thorough account of what had occurred. Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan. “Will do,” he responded. That information contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism. (Pages 200-203)
That memo and others like it from Blumenthal apparently got forwarded to others without noting the source, according to the NYT:
From 2011 to 2012, Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and confidant who was a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign, sent her at least 25 memos about Libya, including several about the Benghazi attacks. Mrs. Clinton forwarded most of them to Jake Sullivan, her trusted foreign policy adviser. Mr. Sullivan would then send the memos along to other senior State Department officials, asking for their feedback. There is no evidence those officials were told that the memos were from Mr. Blumenthal. In April 2012, J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador who died in the Benghazi attacks, was asked by Mr. Sullivan to provide his thoughts on the latest information “from HRC friend.” (Pages 127-128) Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said that Mr. Blumenthal had not been working for the government in any official capacity at the time and that his emails to Mrs. Clinton had not been solicited.
This email shows that Hillary Clinton was made aware by her close friend that the YouTube/spontaneous demonstration narrative was nonsense two days after the attack. She even forwarded that knowledge to other administration officials, underscoring its importance. Yet four days later, Susan Rice repeated the nonsensical talking points on five Sunday talk shows, and Hillary herself told families of the victims the same false narrative later. Why? Because, as Schmidt writes, “she was concerned about how Republicans could use the incidents to undermine President Obama.”
Now, one could say that Hillary didn’t consider Blumenthal a reliable source. If so, though, why tell Sullivan to “get this around asap”? Why continue to tell the “spontaneous demonstration” story even while the DIA had circulated a memo on September 16th that corroborated what Blumenthal had told her personally?
Knowing this, the decision by Hillary to send Susan Rice to do the full Ginsburg on September 16th with those phony talking points looks a lot more understandable. As Secretary of State, that task should have fallen to Hillary Clinton, not the then-UN Ambassador, who was out of the loop. Rice, however, wasn’t planning on running for President in 2016. With Blumenthal’s e-mail in on the 13th (and the DIA’s corroboration later), Hillary would have known better than to get stuck on video telling the whoppers that Rice ended up delivering on Obama’s behalf.
What else may be coming out of the e-mails? They’re looking a lot more interesting than we might have suspected.