by Tom Fitton –
We were in federal court this week at a hearing regarding our request for testimony under oath from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills and several other State Department officials about Clinton email searches. We requested these searches in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Benghazi terrorist attack. U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth set the hearing.
In his October 4, 2018, order setting the hearing date, Judge Lamberth said:
Two and a half years ago, the Court granted plaintiff’s request for limited discovery, mindful of parallel proceeding before Judge Sullivan and the ongoing inquiries by the State Department’s Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Since those proceeding have concluded, it is time to set a plan for further proceedings in this case.
The development comes in our July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). We seek:
• Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
• Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.This is the lawsuit that forced the Clinton email system issue into the public eye in early 2015.
In 2014, a related Judicial Watch case brought to light the fact that the “Internet video” talking points regarding the Benghazi attack were orchestrated in the Obama White House.
In March 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted us “limited discovery,” ruling that “where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” In May 2016, we filed an initial Proposed Order for Discovery seeking additional information. The State Department opposed Judicial Watch’s proposal, and in December 2016 Judge Lamberth requested both parties file new proposed orders in light of information discovered in various venues since the previous May.
In our filing, we informed the court that, despite repeated conferences with the State Department, we had been “unable to reach agreement on a discovery proposal” and that “[the State Department] is unwilling to agree to any discovery at all in this action.” Our discovery proposal focuses on two main areas:
• Evidence of wrongdoing or bad faith with respect to State Department’s response to Plaintiff’s FOIA request for records related to the talking points provided to U.S.Ambassador Susan Rice following the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack; and
• Potential remedies that may ensure a sufficient search for responsive records is undertaken.\
We seek both documents and depositions. The documents requested include:
• All documents that concern or relate to the processing of any and all searches of the Office of the Secretary for emails relating to the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and its aftermath …
• All communications that concern or relate to the processing of all searches referenced in Document Request No. 1 above, including directions or guidance about how and where to conduct the searches …
• All records that concern or relate to the State Department’s policies, practices, procedures and/or actions (or lack thereof) to secure, inventory, and/or account for all records…
• Plaintiff requests copies of the attached records [previously obtained by Judicial Watch] with the Exemption 5 redactions removed …
In addition to documents, we seek depositions, including a deposition of Hillary Clinton that would include Mrs. Clinton’s testimony on:
[the] identification of individuals (whether State Department officials, other government officials, or third-parties, including but not limited to Sidney Blumenthal) with whom Secretary Clinton may have communicated by email.
It is frankly unbelievable that the State Department is still protecting Hillary Clinton and her aides from being asked basic questions about her illicit email system. The courts were misled and obstructed by Hillary Clinton’s email scheme and we hope to get some more answers about this scandal.
At the hearing this morning, Judge Lamberth excoriated the Justice Department and FBI for false statements about the Clinton email issue. He also said he was “dumbfounded” by the Justice Department for granting immunity to Cheryl Mills, a top Clinton aide. Judge Lamberth noted he had found Mills to have committed perjury in another Judicial Watch lawsuit. In an April 28, 2008, ruling relating to Ms. Mills conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Lamberth called Cheryl Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco… Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.”
Judge Lamberth made no ruling today but one is expected soon.
Even More Classified Material on
Hillary Clinton’s Unsecure Email System
As Hillary Clinton tries to remain relevant by encouraging incivility toward her opponents, she perhaps is also trying to deflect attention from our continuing exposure of her irresponsible use of email when she was secretary of state.
That exposure continues apace. We have received 288 pages of newly uncovered emails that were transmitted over her unsecure, non-“state.gov” email system, three of which contain classified information.
We obtained the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on May 6, 2015, after the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00687)) seeking:
All emails sent or received by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her official capacity as Secretary of State, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Secretary Clinton regarding her non-“state.gov” email address.
The documents are part of an accelerated schedule of production ordered by U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg, which required the State Department to complete processing by September 28, 2018, the remaining documents of the 72,000 pages recovered by the FBI in its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server. These new classified and other emails appear to be among those that Clinton had attempted to delete or had otherwise failed to disclose.
Classified information was sent in a January 26, 2010, email from Jake Sullivan, Secretary Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, to Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin explaining that he has “pasted” (his word) from another document a written summary sent to him from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair’s conversations are with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Irish leaders regarding the sensitive Northern Ireland peace process.
Also included is a classified April 8, 2010, email from secret Clinton adviser Sid Blumenthal (who was barred from a State Department position by the Obama administration and regardless continued to advise Clinton on matters of state) about the change of government in Kyrgyzstan.
And the emails include a classified June 13, 2009, email from Sullivan to Clinton and aide Cheryl Mills regarding Sullivan’s discussions with Northern Ireland leaders.
The new documents we obtained also show Hillary Clinton being given speech-making advice by Blumenthal. They reveal a potential conflict of interest between the Clintons. They also contain information about a CIA team killed by al Qaeda:
• In a January 24, 2008, email from Clinton aide (and later 2016 presidential campaign manager) Robby Mook to Maggie Williams and Mills regarding staffing of the State Department, Mook describes seven categories of applicants on a spreadsheet, and includes the category “Friends and Family.”
• A November 6, 2009, email from Hillary Clinton speechwriter Tomicah Tilleman to Sullivan details a memo Blumenthal sent to Secretary Clinton containing suggested material for a planned speech in Berlin. Tilleman wrote: “Due to the need to produce the second Atlantic Council speech, we’re just going to run with Sid’s draft. Megan’s in the process of cleaning it up and cutting it down.”
• In a December 30, 2009, email exchange, senior adviser Phillippe Reines disclosed to Clinton and Abedin that the seven individuals killed in an al Qaeda attack in Khost, Afghanistan, were in fact CIA personnel. The CIA had been trying to keep this fact secret. Reines wrote: “To the extent it’s currently being reported, they are being identified as DOD personnel, not Agency.” He goes on to say that CIA Director Leon Panetta’s chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, told Reines that “The details are thin and he [Bash] couldn’t get into specifics on an open line, but they believe the contact they met with set them up and was either carrying the explosive or detonated it.”
• On June 28, 2009, Bill Clinton’s aide Justin Cooper emailed Hillary Clinton, with a copy to her household assistant Oscar Flores, edits made by Bill Clinton to a speech Hillary was to give at the Council on Foreign Relations. Cooper blind-copied Cheryl Mills on the email. Mills forwarded it to Sullivan with the warning: “I was BLIND COPIED ON THIS SO DO NOT FORWARD ETC.” Bill Clinton’s involvement raises conflict of interest questions, as he was heading up the Clinton Foundation at the time.
• In a February 14, 2009, email exchange, Sullivan apologized to Hillary that it took so long for him to respond to some of her emails, saying in his subject line “Again apologies — not sure why these emails just arrived.” Secretary Clinton had sent her last message to Sullivan at 2:26 p.m. that day, and Sullivan replied at 8:09 p.m., suggesting the email was down for six hours. Hillary replies: “Thanks for both responses. Huma told me State email was down so that may account for the delays.”
• In a March 21, 2009, email to Sullivan and aide Jack Lew, Secretary Clinton noted that under the Obama Fiscal Year 2010 proposed budget, with projected deficits of $1 trillion per year and 5-6% GDP, the United States “wouldn’t be able to join the EU.”
We continue to uncover the mishandling of classified information in Hillary Clinton emails that she tried to hide or destroy. This is further evidence of the urgency for the DOJ to finally undertake a complete and legitimate criminal investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should immediately order a new investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
Last year, the FBI uncovered 72,000 pages of documents Clinton attempted to delete or did not otherwise disclose. Until the court intervened and established a new deadline of September 28, 2018, the State Department had been slow-walking the release of those documents at a rate that would have required Judicial Watch and the American people to wait until at least 2020 to see all the releasable Clinton material.
Hillary Clinton repeatedly stated that the 55,000 pages of documents she turned over to the State Department in December 2014 included all of her work-related emails. In response to a court order in another Judicial Watch case, she declared under penalty of perjury that she had “directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or are potentially federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.”
We’re Investigating the Anti-Kavanaugh Smear Operation
In confirming Judge Kavanaugh the Senate has confirmed a good man with an impeccable record of honoring the U.S. Constitution. Judge Kavanaugh’s record shows him to be a believer in the rule of law, and I believe he will serve the American people with distinction.
We are grateful that a majority of the Senate rejected the leftist smears, abuse of process, and rejection of constitutional norms. Now there must be accountability for this lawless assault on our constitutional republic. We have launched an investigation into the Senate ethics and legal abuses by anti-Kavanaugh senators. And we will continue to pursue our Senate ethics complaint against Sen. Booker for his admitted violation of Senate rules, the violation of which requires expulsion from the Senate.
Justice for Justice Kavanaugh and our fight to uphold the rule of law has only just begun. You can see my “after action” report on the Kavanaugh travesty here.
Big Judicial Watch Court Victory
Against the Violent Left
The violent left hates the rule of law. In fact, one of their leading activists sought to derail a Judicial Watch freedom of information investigation with a meritless lawsuit. Thankfully, a federal court judge has put an end to this legal assault. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the details.
A California teacher’s case to block Judicial Watch from obtaining public records about her violent Antifa activism is “entirely frivolous,” a federal judge said during a hearing this week in San Francisco.
The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) middle school teacher, Yvette Felarca, is a national organizer for a radical leftist group, and last year Judicial Watch filed a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to get information about her violent Antifa activism. Claiming to be the victim of a political witch hunt, Felarca sued the district in federal court to keep it from fulfilling its legal obligation to provide Judicial Watch with the records.
In Judicial Watch’s 24-year history of submitting thousands of public records requests and litigating hundreds of public records lawsuits in state and federal courts nationwide, a third party has never sued to stop a government agency from responding to one of its requests. Additionally, Judicial Watch has never been required to litigate a state public records act lawsuit in a federal court. At this week’s hearing Judge Vince Chhabria, an Obama appointee at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, found the controversial teacher’s argument to be “entirely frivolous” and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state law claims. A written order will follow, representing a huge victory for the public’s right to information about government and the taxpayer-funded officials that operate it.
In her lawsuit to keep the district from furnishing the records, Felarca alleges that Judicial Watch is misusing the law for political means and the district should refuse to provide the information. It also calls Judicial Watch’s record request “illegal,” though it aligns perfectly with California law, which states that “governmental records shall be disclosed to the public, upon request, unless there is a specific reason not to do so.” In this case there is not, which helps explain Felarca’s preposterous argument.
In her federal complaint she asserts that “BUSD’s pursuit of Judicial Watch’s illegal CPRA request would transform the CPRA into something unrecognizable and far-removed from its original intent of making the acts of government officials public. Instead, it would become a tool for employers and political organizations to spy on and police public employees for their political beliefs and affiliations, including concerted activities for their mutual benefit.” Judge Chhabria didn’t buy it.
Felarca works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements. In 2016 the teacher and two of her radical pals were arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Felarca was captured on video calling a man a Nazi and punching him in the stomach repeatedly while shouting obscenities at him.
More than a dozen people were injured in the riot, at least 10 with stab wounds, and the capitol grounds suffered thousands of dollars in property damage. Felarca accused local authorities of a “witch hunt” and tried to get the charges dropped but in May a Sacramento County judge declined. A local newspaper story on the two-hour hearing quotes the judge, Michael Savage, saying: “The bottom line is this: There’s nothing … that shows that the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office planned to carry out any discrimination against the defendants.”
In January a separate judge ordered Felarca to pay more than $11,000 in attorney and court fees for her frivolous attempt to get a restraining order against Troy Worden, the former head of the University of California (UC) Berkeley College Republicans. The two political adversaries went head to head when Felarca led violent protests against conservative speakers that Worden’s group promoted at UC Berkeley. Felarca claimed Worden was stalking her and she got a temporary restraining order. Then she filed for a permanent restraining order. The Alameda County commissioner that ordered Felarca to pay Worden’s legal fees said her request for a restraining order “was not brought in good faith.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton