An announcement by Judicial Watch has revealed that the U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered the U.S. Department of State to hand over to Judicial Watch eight identical paragraphs of Hillary Clinton's emails.
The two redact materials are dated September 13, 2012. They contain Clinton’s emails on phone calls made by President Barack Obama to Egyptian and Libyan leaders immediately following the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
The two emails had the subject line Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt. They were also among the emails stored on Clinton’s unofficial email server. Judge Jackson reviewed the documents directly and rejected the government’s contention that the records had been properly withheld under the FOIA B(5) “deliberative process” exemption.
That led Judge Jackson to rule that the two records, even if just barely pre decisional, are not deliberative. He also said that The State Department had pointed to very little, to support its characterization of these two records as deliberative, and the Court’s in camera review of the documents reveals that they do not fall into that category.
The release of the full emails may reveal what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew about the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
After Judge Jackson’s March 20 ruling, the State Department asked the court to reconsider. Arguing that, due to an internal mistake, it failed to claim that the emails were classified and, therefore, exempt from production under FOIA Exemption B(1).
However, Judicial Watch argues that the failure was not a mistake, but instead was part of a deliberate effort by the State Department to protect Clinton and the agency by avoiding identifying emails on Clinton’s unofficial, non-secure email server as classified.
It turns out that there were several attempts made by top State Department official to keep Clinton’s emails unclassified. This was done by Patrick Kennedy who pressured the FBI to pull the move. There were also reports from an FBI employee indicating that State had a motive to minimize the classified nature of the Clinton emails in a bid to protect the State interests and those of Clinton.
A State Department employee had also told the FBI that the State Department’s Office of Legal Counsel interfered with the FOIA processing of email from Secretary Clinton’s server, instructing reviewers to use Exemption B(5) (deliberative process exemption) instead of Exemption B(1) (classified information exemption).
This has led Judicial Watch to argue that an agency’s deliberate withholding of an FOIA claim, either to gain a tactical advantage or, as appears to be the case here, to protect the agency’s interests and those of its former head, is a motive undoubtedly inconsistent with FOIA’s broad remedial purpose.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has posed a crucial question on President Trump, asking him is he knows that his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Fitton also urges Trump’s administration to put to stop what seems like a great example of the ‘deep state’ trying to get away with a cover-up.