The Wall Street Journal summarizes what information it is possible to gleen as the result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, and what we already know shows just how much trouble Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is facing.
Congressional investigators can subpoena documents, but even if after long delays they get them, the investigators must trust that the agency handed over everything. The agency usually doesnâ€™t. Under FOIA, by contrast, the agency is required by law to provide plaintiffs with a complete inventory and broad description of every document it has that pertains to the requestâ€”but is withholding. This is known as a Vaughn index. The State Department on Monday handed over its Vaughn index to Citizens United and, boy, are these email descriptions revealing.
We find that the State Department hasâ€”but is not releasingâ€”an email chain between then-Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and a Clinton Foundation board member about the secretary of stateâ€™s planned trip to Africa. We find that the State Department hasâ€”but is not releasingâ€”emails between Ms. Mills and foundation staff discussing â€œinvitations to foreign business executives to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.â€ We find many undisclosed email chains in which State Department officials talk with Clinton Foundation officials about Bill Clinton speeches and Bill Clinton travel, including to events in North Korea and Congo.
Huma Abedin, a longtime confidante of Mrs. Clintonâ€™s, was somehow allowed to work, simultaneously, at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and as a consultant to Teneoâ€”a consulting firm run by Clinton loyalist Doug Band. All three of Ms. Abedinâ€™s hats come into play in an undisclosed email exchange regarding a 2012 dinner in Ireland. As the Washington Examiner reported in May, Mrs. Clinton received an award at the dinner from a Clinton Foundation donor. The ceremony was promoted by Teneo. Mrs. Clinton attended in her official capacity as secretary of state. Sort through that.
We already know that the Clinton Foundation continued to take foreign money even while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. We now know this was only the start of the entwining. These email summaries show that the Clinton Foundation was the State Department and the State Department was the Clinton Foundation. All one, big, seamless, Clinton-promoting entity. We would know far more if State released the full emails. It is citing personal privacy as one reason not to make some public. In others, it claims the emails â€œshed no light on the conduct of U.S. Government business.â€
Separately, we learn that the State Department is withholding from Citizens United and congressional investigators 14 separate exchanges between department employees regarding Benghazi. Most of these involve discussions of the State Departmentâ€™s statement about the attack, or its responses to congressional inquiries about the attack. In short, those documents go directly to the focus of Congressâ€™s probe: whether the administration covered up what it knew about the attack or the risks to the four American diplomats who were killed. The State Department is claiming attorney-client privilege for its withholding, since most of the exchanges involve Ms. Millsâ€”who we now find also served as an attorney at the department. The Clintons think of everything.
All told, there are at least 35 FOIA lawsuits pending for Clinton-related email. Nearly everything important weâ€™ve learned has come from those suits. They are why the State Department is releasing emails; why we know they contained classified information; why we know Mrs. Clintonâ€™s aides also used unsanctioned email accounts; why we know that the State Department is covering for Mrs. Clinton.