Foggy Bottom uncovers additional messages related to the oft-investigated attack. Why didn’t they find the emails sooner?
The State Department has said over and over again that it turned over all ofHillary Clinton’s Benghazi-related emails to the committee investigating the 2012 attack.
Turns out, that wasn’t quite the case. Foggy Bottom mistakenly failed to produce a “small number” of those emails, a senior State Department official told The Daily Beast.
“Following our second review of former Secretary Clinton’s emails… the Department is producing a small number of emails relating to Benghazi,” the official said. The official could not say precisely how many Benghazi-related Clinton emails the State Department missed in its original review, but characterized it as a “handful.”
The original review through 55,000 pages of Hillary Clinton emails involved hard copies of the emails, which had to be hand-sorted on desks in the State Department. These documents have since been digitized, and in recent weeks the State Department did a second, electronic review of the emails in its possession—and found a number of Benghazi-related emails that it did not previously produce.
This revelation comes as the Associated Press reported that Pentagon officials have found emails between Clinton and then-CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus that Clinton did not turn over. Clinton has previously certified that she had turned over all work-related emails to the State Department.
The State Department informed the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Friday that it would deliver to them approximately 925 new Hillary Clinton emails relating to Benghazi and Libya, among them a small number of Benghazi-related emails that it had missed.
These 925 new emails fall into three broad categories:
1. Benghazi-related emails that the State Department missed in its original review;
2. Hillary Clinton emails related to Libya which the State Department assessed not to be directly related to Benghazi. This makes up the vast majority of the 925 emails being released;
3. Benghazi-related emails that the State Department had previously assessed (PDF) to be of a “personal nature and unrelated to the former Secretary’s official capacity.”
The State Department believes that by producing emails related to Libya but not explicitly related to Benghazi, it is going above and beyond what it has been expressly been asked to provide to the committee.
The Benghazi Committee’s Republicans said that the admission was an indicator that the State Department “intends to foster a more cooperative relationship with the committee,” but that it had not received the new production of emails and could thus not comment on it.
“If indeed this is a sign the stonewalling and political protection effort that was previously being run by the Department is diminishing, the Committee welcomes it. The proof will be in the production,” said Republican spokesman Jamal Ware.
Hillary Clinton herself is expected to testify before the Benghazi committee on October 22, the official said. “To accommodate that, the Department undertook another review of the emails provided by former Secretary Clinton to provide such Libya-related emails, and to ensure all Benghazi-related materials have been provided to the Committee.”
But there was also pressure from outside groups to produce these emails. This week POLITICO reported on a Freedom of Information Act filing by the conservative group Citizens United, which describes approximately a dozen Benghazi-related emails that have been withheld from the group’s previous document requests. Most of these documents also appear to have been withheld from the Benghazi committee, the news organization said.
The new release of emails related to Benghazi and Libya dwarfs the original number of Benghazi-specific emails previously released by the State Department. The department had previously provided the Benghazi Committee with 296 emails specifically related to Benghazi back in February.
“The documents provided today do not alter the fundamental facts known about the Benghazi attacks,” the senior State Department official told The Daily Beast.
The State Department has already released more than 13,000 pages of Hillary Clinton emails as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act process, and will publicly release additional documents next Wednesday. The State Department has thus far provided 32 witnesses for interviews and over 70,000 pages of documents.