by Tom Fitton –
Judicial Watch –
Nothing to see here but wedding plans, family vacations and yoga routines. That’s the malarkey that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters during her 20-minute press conference held at the United Nations on Tuesday, March 10. Revelations she exclusively used a “private” email account for her official business during her time in office have erupted in the past few days, raising legal questions and security concerns. So far, we are being led to believe that Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of correspondence to the State Department for review, which accounts for 30,000 of the 60,000 emails she supposedly had in her account(s?). What about the other half? She claims these included mundane personal items like those yoga classes, and, in classic “limited, modified hangout” fashion, put out more false talking points suggesting that she “chose not to keep her private, personal emails that were not federal records.” Notice she did not say she deleted the “private, personal emails” or how and who defined which records were personal vs. official.
I know that Judicial Watch’s tenacious investigations into Benghazi, the Clintons’ illicit fundraising schemes at State, and other important matters ended the seven-year cover-up of Clinton’s secret emails. There are 18 lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, and about 160 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that could be affected by Mrs. Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business.
In Judicial Watch’s various FOIA lawsuits, lawyers for Judicial Watch have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered, and searched. And, as you will see below, just yesterday we took important court action that could force the accountability that so many Americans want for this massive scandal.
Your JW is not standing still. We have launched a full-scale investigation for the truth about Clinton’s secret email system, which could have been used to conceal documents and avoid disclosure under the law. The American people cannot wait for Congress to figure out what is going on with the Obama administration in full cover-up mode.
Here is a portion of what Clinton had to say during her press conference:
“There are four things I want the public to know. First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two. Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue. Second, 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.
“Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work- related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails – emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes. No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy. Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see.
Clinton described the process by which she would turn over emails in a statement from her office. Apparently, this will include a search of the names of State Department staffers, which means anything from a “.gov” email address and various keyword searchers of the emails sent and received during her time at the State Department. But there’s no surety that Clinton’s team is turning over all government-related documents since she maintains control of the private server.
There are also lingering security concerns. Clinton made the incredible assertion there are no classified materials in any of the thousands of emails she sent and received. No sensible person finds this believable – not even the New York Times, which quickly put out a report citing a former State Department official who said that it was “unlikely” Clinton had no classified material:
“I would assume that more than 50 percent of what the secretary of state dealt with was classified,” said the former official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to seem ungracious to Mrs. Clinton. “Was every single email of the secretary of state completely unclassified? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine.”
At the risk at seeming “ungracious,” I will tell you that Hillary’s “no classified” material line is absurd! How do we know? Because the Obama State Department withheld classified material in response to our blockbuster FOIA lawsuits on Benghazi. Go to the documents linked through here and you’ll see the blacked out classified material. No one can seriously believe that none of these emails (or any similar emails) were ever received or sent by Hillary Clinton.
This scandal has criminal implications for Mrs. Clinton and who knows how many high-ranking government officials in this administration. Even President Obama couldn’t help but mislead about Hillary Clinton’s emails. He first suggested that he only read about the secret emails in the newspaper, and then was forced to admit that he sent emails to the very same secret email account he says he didn’t know about! By the way, we’ve never seen an Obama email in any of our thousands of FOIA requests or nearly 200 FOIA lawsuits.
Here are some of the steps that JW is taking to further break open the case. We have submitted six new FOIA requests with the State Department, besides the numerous requests filed earlier this month, directly seeking Clinton’s emails. Here’s what we are asking for in the new requests:
Communications between employees of the U.S. Department of State and former Secretary Clinton and/or her representatives relating to emails sent or received by former Secretary Clinton on non-“state.gov” email addresses: from June 1, 2014, to the present.
Records concerning the use of a non-“state.gov” email address by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Including records concerning security, classification, preservation, and compliance with the Federal Records Act and/or the Freedom of Information Act: from January 20, 2009, to February 20, 2009.
Records that identify the number and names of all current and former officials, officers, or employees of the State Department from January 20, 2009, to the present who used email addresses other than their assigned “state.gov” email addresses to conduct official State Department business.
Records that identify the policies and/or procedures in place to ensure that emails that were sent or received by officials, officers, or employees of the U.S. Department of State who used email addresses other than “state.gov” email addresses to conduct official State Department business were searched for responsiveness to FOIA requests.
Communications between employees of the Department of State and officials or employees of the White House and/or Executive Office of the President relating to the use of non- “state.gov” email addresses by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: from June 1, 2014, to the present.
Communications between officials or employees of the Department of State and Members of Congress or Congressional staff, or Congressional Members or staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi relating to the use of non- “state.gov” email addresses by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: from June 1, 2014, to the present.
These, again, are just requests. Keep reading below for a special report on the historic court action we took to get to the truth about this scandal.
Judicial Watch Forces Obama Administration
to Admit To Misconduct in Email Scandal
Like you, I am tired of politicians, who at best are doing nothing but complaining about Obama corruption, overreach, and, in these past weeks, the Clinton email scandal. Despite a day-late-and-dollar-short subpoena issued by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, you can once again expect that Congress (and the media) will follow Judicial Watch’s lead on the burgeoning Clinton email scandal. If truth and accountability are to prevail, it will be through Judicial Watch’s investigation and litigation.
Acting quickly to address the scandal and the abuse of courts and the law (and the public’s right to know), your Judicial Watch has asked a federal court to reopen a closed Freedom of Information (FOIA) case. As you may recall, our lawsuit sought information about Huma Abedin, who was Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations from January 22, 2009, to June 2, 2012. She then became a senior advisor in the same office and was classified as a special government employee authorized to represent individual clients and engage in outside employment. Ms. Abedin held this special position until February 15, 2013.
Here’s where matters take an interesting turn.
By letter, on February 12, 2014, the State Department told us that it had searched the Office of the Executive Secretary, which would have included the offices of the Secretary of State and top staff. Relying upon the State Department’s misrepresentation that the agency conducted a reasonable search, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss its lawsuit on March 14, 2014.
We were scammed by the Obama administration, and I think the court was, too.
That’s why we took the unusual step of filing a Motion for Relief and Request for Hearing in Washington, D.C., with U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.
Since the FOIA at issue here included communications of Secretary Clinton and Ms. Abedin, we are asking the court to reopen this litigation in order to remedy the State Department’s failure to retain and search for these records. This is pretty clear-cut. The State Department should be required to search the 55,000 pages of records returned by Secretary Clinton, conduct additional, broader searches for responsive records that may not have been captured by earlier searches, and otherwise remedy any spoliation.
Judicial Watch is seeking to reopen this lawsuit under a federal court rule (Rule 60(b)(3)) that allows a party to reopen a case due to “fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party”:
The State Department had an obligation under the Federal Records Act to properly preserve, maintain, and make available for retrieval records of its official functions. In fact, it is the obligation of the head of every federal agency to do so. Secretary Clinton plainly violated her own legal obligations. Doing so was misconduct.
It is “incomprehensible” that the State Department did not know that its “searches” did not capture emails of Hillary Clinton and other top State officials:
Despite knowing that the emails of Secretary Clinton and likely the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials were not searched, the State Department represented to Judicial Watch that the records of the Executive Secretariat had been searched. At no point did the State Department inform Judicial Watch that the Secretary’s emails and the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials could not be searched. These were misrepresentations.
Judicial Watch relied upon the State Department’s misrepresentation that it conducted a search of the Office of the Executive Secretariat [which would have included emails of Hillary Clinton’s and other top State officials]. It was lead to believe that the State Department’s search was proper. It now knows it was not. Had Judicial Watch known that the State Department’s search excluded Secretary Clinton’s emails and the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials, Judicial Watch would not have stipulated to the dismissal of this case …
Just to review, Huma Abedin left the State Department in February 2013, and in May 2013, Politico broke the story that, since June 2012, she had been working as a “special government employee” (SGE), a consultant position allowing her to represent outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State. While working as a SGE, Abedin’s outside clients included Teneo, a strategic consulting firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. According to Fox News, Abedin earned $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, in addition to her $135,000 SGE compensation.
While Abedin has failed to disclose the exact nature of her work on behalf of Teneo, the firm describes its activities as providing “the leaders of the world’s most respected companies, nonprofit institutions and governments with a full suite of advisory solutions.” [Emphasis added] Outside of the U.S., it maintains offices in Dubai, London, Dublin, Hong Kong, Brussels, and Beijing. Teneo was also the subject of various investigative reports, including by the New York Times, which raise questions about its relationship with the Clinton Foundation.
These interlocking relationships call out for answers and you can see why the State Department and the Clinton operation would not want Judicial Watch to know the truth.
Hillary Clinton’s misconduct and the resulting misrepresentations by the State Department disrupted and ended our federal FOIA lawsuit about Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest political associates.
Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration concealed records and lied to obstruct a federal court and Judicial Watch from finding out about the secret emails. Time is of the essence. Immediate court action is imperative to retrieve, recover and secure these public records from Mrs. Clinton.
What is perhaps most important about our legal action is the response of the Obama administration. Our lawyers, complying with court rules, checked with Obama Justice Department lawyers before filing our motion:
Undersigned counsel for Judicial Watch conferred with counsel for Defendant U.S. Department of State (“State Department” or “Department”), who stated that the Department “does not oppose reopening the case in this particular circumstance, but does oppose the specific relief sought, and will be filing a response detailing its position.”
Let me translate that for you: the Obama administration agrees that Judicial Watch is correct in its conclusion that there is clear and convincing evidence that Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department engaged in “fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct”! So the next time you see or hear anyone suggest nothing was done wrong in this scandal, remember that the Obama administration disagrees.
Obama’s Hawaii Blow-Out
President Obama seems oblivious to the burden he is placing on Americans with his continuous vacations, getaways, and political junkets at taxpayer expense.
After extracting the information from the U.S. Department of the Air Force, Judicial Watch’s investigative team pulled together taxpayer-funded expenses that went into the Obama family’s 2014 Christmas vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Hawaii visit from December 19, 2014, to January 4, 2015, marked the seventh Hawaii vacation for the family during the Obama presidency. Just the flight expenses alone to Hawaii cost taxpayers $3,672,798.
Summing up totals for the trip to Hawaii, to the West Coast, and to Martha’s Vineyard last year, the trips cost nearly $3 million alone in transportation. Let’s break down the specifics. The documents we obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that the Obama family spent 17.8 hours in the air round-trip at $206,337.00 per hour, bringing the total cost to taxpayers to $3,672,798.60. Other figures your JW unearthed show that over the past three years, the Obama Hawaii Christmas vacations altogether have cost taxpayers $15,540,515.10 in transportation expenses alone. This includes outbound and return flight expenses in 2012 totaling $4,086,355.20. (The Secret Service provided documents for Obama’s Christmas 2012 trip to Honolulu. The grand total is $654,599.40 including $409,225.78 in hotels.) Flight expenses for the Obamas’ 2013 Christmas vacation to Hawaii cost taxpayers $7,781,361.30.
It is good to be the king. Can you imagine that any but the most wealthy of Americans could afford all those luxury trips to Hawaii from DC for a family of four?
The average family of four regular Americans spent just $4,580.00 on vacations in 2013.
The president does not seem inclined to cut corners and save expenses with an eye toward the U.S. taxpayer. The Obama family rented the same plush oceanfront estate they’ve used for the past several years. The four-member Obama family spent its extended two-week vacation at a palatial mansion with: “13 bedrooms, a prime location on Kailua beach and all the mod cons that the First Family could ask for … Beyond the lawn lies the famous beach, up which the waves roll majestically, 24 hours a day,” according to the London Telegraph.
In separate, but related news, we have also obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that the flight cost for Obama’s July 2014 fundraising expedition to Seattle, Washington; San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; and the flight cost for the Obama family’s August 2014 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard came to a whopping total of $2,825,751.80 in taxpayer-paid transportation expenses.
Obama’s three-day fundraising tour in Seattle, raising money for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), began on July 22. His visits to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles included at least five fundraisers. Afterwards, the Obama family left in Air Force One for atwo-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard from August 9-23.
Obama received heavy criticism for moving forward with the West Coast fundraisers in July and the August vacation due to numerous major international crises at the time: escalated fighting in Gaza and the surge of illegal aliens over the U.S. border. Only a week before heading west, Obama also drew fire for attending fundraisers in New York immediately after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine.
Obama’s fundraising trips were also deemed inappropriate by some because of the heavy burden they place on American taxpayers forced to foot the majority of the bill for explicitly Democratic fundraisers. According to campaign finance laws, the DNC only has to pay the equivalent of a commercial airline ticket to fly Obama, while taxpayers must pay for the lion’s share of Air Force One’s operating cost. It is a scam. Reimbursement by the parties and candidates for the tremendous costs to taxpayers is ridiculously low – just relatively modest airfare and money for hotel and food. It is a scam and the actual process for billing is secret, as the AP reports:
When a presidential trip includes multiple stops, some of them for political events and some for official purposes, then travel costs get divided up between the campaign and the government. But following a decades-old White House tradition, Obama aides declined to share details on how that’s done.
The Washington Examiner has appropriately dubbed Obama the “Vacationer in Chief.” With Michelle Obama preparing to take a trip to Japan and Cambodia this month, the
Examiner “calculated that the first family has racked up 38 holidays, working vacations, and fun trips like a date night in New York. They are on par to take at least 45 holidays before leaving office.”
We can never know the full cost, as the Examiner acknowledges, but the FOIA documents we have obtained make it very evident that this president is not exactly parsimonious when it comes to taxpayer funded money. Our friends at the Examiner note that JW has been the key to exposing the ongoing abuse of taxpayer dollars by President Obama:
Costs are hard to pin down, and most come as a result of Freedom of Information Act suits from taxpayer watchdog Judicial Watch which pegged the Obama-Biden vacation tab at $40 million last year. That was before the first lady and daughters took spring break in China, and the first family’s annual summer vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Christmas in Hawaii, and this year’s holidays.
The Obamas’ travel is out of control. They are treating the Air Force One like an Uber ride. Our military deserves better. And the Secret Service is stretched to the breaking point by President’s Obama’s abusive travel. One need only read the reports this week about Secret Service agents driving drunk through a possible bomb crime scene to know that morale in that agency must be in the pits. This out-of-control traveling presidency is putting the security of the president and others at risk!
Politicians of both parties in Washington are hesitant to rein Obama in because restraining his perks of power might result in cutting off their taxpayer-provided, unnecessary perks of office.
So it once again falls to JW to track and expose this waste, fraud, and abuse. Americans want this information, want accountability, and our team here is happy to be of public service!
Tom Fitton – President