Once again conservative watchdog Judicial Watch is uncovering some of the truth behind the Hillary Clinton email scandal. On Thursday the group released correspondence featuring a letter from one of Hillary Clinton’s closest State Department underlings, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s letter, sent four months ago to Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall, asked Clinton to destroy all electronic copies of a classified email found in the records Clinton had turned over to State six months earlier (see the series of emails embedded here).
Kendall did the right thing and rejected the request because Congress and other investigators had demanded the electronic records be preserved. But correspondence also shows that Hillary ignored a demand to turn over all electronic copies of the approximately 55,000 pages of emails she previously returned in paper form.
The correspondence was disclosed by the State and Justice Departments as part of a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in which the group asked the court to issue a preservation order to protect any emails Clinton has yet to turn over, including those emails that she and her lawyers unilaterally determined to be personal. (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (1:12-cv-02034))
The May 22, 2015, letter from Kennedy to Clinton attorney Kendall reads in part:
I am writing in reference to the following e-mail that is among the approximately 55,000 pages that were identified as potential federal records and produced on behalf of former Secretary Clinton to the Depa1tment of State on December 5, 2014: E-mail forwarded by Jacob Sullivan to Secretary Clinton on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Subject: Fw: FYI- Report of arrests -possible Benghazi connection).
Please be advised that today the above referenced e-mail, which previously was unclassified, has been classified as “Secret” pursuant to Section 1.7(d) of Executive Order 13526 in connection with a review and release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In order to safeguard and protect the classified information, I ask – consistent with my letter to you dated March 23 2015 – that you, Secretary Clinton and others assisting her in responding to congressional and related inquiries coordinate in taking the steps set forth below. A copy of the document as redacted under the FOIA is attached to assist you in your search.
Once you have made the electronic copy of the documents for the Department, please locate any electronic copies of the above-referenced classified document in your possession. If you locate any electronic copies, please delete them. Additionally, once you have done that, please empty your “Deleted Items” folder.
At the very least, this letter proves the State Department knew Clinton had classified information on her server about two months before it was disclosed publicly at the end of July.
Clinton’s attorney responds several weeks later, on June 15 – saying it would not be “prudent” to delete the email. David Kendall writes:
This will also confirm that, pursuant to your request, we have deleted all electronic copies of this document, with the following exception. I have received document preservation requests pertaining to the 55,000 pages of e-mails from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi, the Inspector General of the State Department, and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (DNI). I have responded to each preservation request by confirming to the requestor that I would take reasonable steps to preserve these 55,000 pages of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails in their present electronic form. I therefore do not believe it would be prudent to delete, as you request, the above-referenced e-mail from the master copies or the PST file that we are preserving.
Clinton’s attorney suggests the information may yet be deleted. Kendall’s June letter states:
Once the document preservation requests referenced above expire, we will proceed to make the requested deletions. This present arrangement would cover the single document recently classified “Secret”. Should there be further reclassifications during the Department’s FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] review of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails, it also would cover any such additional documents.
The State Department also disclosed a July 2, 2015, letter from the chief records officer at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Paul M. Wester Jr., to Margaret P. Grafeld, deputy assistant secretary for global information services at the State Department, that shows Clinton never turned over the records as requested. Webster again requests State Department action on the Clinton records:
I would like to reiterate our request that the Department contact the representatives of former Secretary Clinton to secure the native electronic versions with associated metadata of the approximately 55,000 hard copy pages of emails …
Despite this request, the State Department seems never to have followed up with Clinton for the data. On August 6, the State Department reported to the court in another Judicial Watch lawsuit that it had demanded that Mills and Abedin “return all copies of potential federal records in your possession.” The State Department did not provide any correspondence demanding Mrs. Clinton return all copies of potential federal records.
Once again Judicial Watch has saved the day and done the work Congress and the mainstream media should be doing.
“Judicial Watch exposed a cover-up with criminal implications. Why on Earth would John Kerry’s State Department tell Mrs. Clinton to delete classified Benghazi records before finding out where and how this material had been disclosed?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “That the State Department asked Clinton’s lawyer to destroy federal records shows a level of distain for the rule of law that goes beyond the pale. These letters should have been disclosed to more than one federal judge. The evident contempt and obstruction of justice by both Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration will be brought to the attention the courts.
Cross-posted at The Lid