Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to hide her emails about Benghazi and Libya for years, including long after she left the Obama administration. In fact, she or her team may have even instructed tech companies involved with managing and storing her emails to delete some records last year, after she was told to turn them over to the State Department. She also deleted thousands and thousands of emails she did not want to turn over, and the State Department confirmed in June that she withheld at least 15 emails related to Libya.
Those public records would have never been recovered if the Committee had not obtained them from Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton confidant who was banned from working in the Obama administration but employed by the Clinton Foundation and Clinton propaganda groups Media Matters, Correct the Record, and American Bridge. Further, a new batch of emails finally delivered to the Committee just two weeks ago indicates that Blumenthal was Clinton’s primary advisor on Libya: nearly half of all the emails sent to and from Clinton regarding Benghazi and Libya prior to the September 2012 terrorist attack involved him. It’s unclear if he had a security clearance, but he did email Clinton the name of a CIA source, “the most sensitive kind of classified information,” according to John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel.
Of course, this is relevant to the Committee’s investigation into what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack. The families of the four Americans who were killed deserve the truth. That’s been the focus of the Committee from day one, and nothing has changed. But Democrats have attempted to undermine and block the Committee’s work from the start, before any of this information – including a single Clinton email – came to light. As they’ve demonstrated over the last few months, they will say anything to distract from the FBI’s investigation into Hillary’s email, and discredit the Committee’s fact-based investigation into what happened in Benghazi.
So, here are 11 facts you need to know right now:
1. President Obama says Hillary Clinton “made a mistake,” and questions about her email are “legitimate.”
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 12, 2015
- “[S]he made a mistake,” President Obama told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate …. [I]t is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public.”
2. Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff thanked Republicans on the Committee for their “professionalism” just last month.
- After she testified to the Committee in private for nearly 10 hours last month, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, “emerged … smiling and laughing with Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.),” according to Politico. “She stood beside the South Carolina Republican and lawmakers from both sides of the committee, and thanked them for their ‘professionalism’ and ‘respect’ and ‘the work they're doing.’”
3. Seven Democrats joined Republicans in voting to create the Committee.
- Democratic Reps. Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Patrick Murphy of Florida, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia all supported the creation of the Committee in May 2014.
4. If the Obama administration had not stonewalled congressional oversight and withheld relevant information, the Committee probably would not exist.
- “If Hillary Clinton wants to blame someone for the House Select Committee on Benghazi … she should start with President Barack Obama,” Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake explained last week. “Until May 2014, Republican leadership resisted forming the special committee for nearly a year and a half. All of that changed when House Speaker John Boehner discovered that the White House had not shared with the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform important e-mails and talking points on what administration officials were encouraged to say in the aftermath of the attack. … The [select] committee today combing through the former secretary of state's e-mails was empaneled in part because the White House didn't fully comply with the initial Benghazi investigation.”
5. The Committee’s membership is less partisan than others created in the past.
- The Committee has a majority-minority party ratio of seven-to-five. Under the previous Democratic majority, then-Speaker Pelosi established a Select Committee with a more partisan nine-to-six ratio.
6. The Committee’s chief counsel was the Army’s senior military lawyer for four years under President Obama.
- Retired three-star general Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman was hired by Chairman Gowdy in August 2014. He served as judge advocate general for the Army from 2009 to 2013.
7. Hillary Clinton’s unprecedented email arrangement has cost taxpayers more than $14 million – so far.
- According to the State Department, the cost of sorting through the emails Clinton chose to turn over has reached $14 million – more than three times the cost of the Select Committee’s investigation. The process of going through these emails, redacting classified information, and releasing them will likely stretch through January, and the State Department has established a full-time staff of more than a dozen people to complete the task. Nearly all of these costs would have been avoided if Clinton had simply used a government email account for her work as she was supposed to.
8. Democrats claim that the Committee is “the longest-running congressional investigation ever.” PolitiFact says that’s false.
- “While the Benghazi investigation has lasted about 17 months, we found other investigations that lasted 30, 40 and even 90 months,” reported PolitiFact. “And the number of longer investigations only goes up once probes by permanent committees are included. We rate the claim False.”
9. The Committee is the first and only Benghazi investigation to include Hillary Clinton’s emails and dozens of key witnesses.
- “This committee has interviewed 41 witnesses no other committee interviewed,” Chairman Gowdy explained. “Seven were eyewitnesses to the attacks. We have reviewed 50,000 pages of documents never before given to Congress — including the emails of top State Department personnel. … [Hillary Clinton’s] emails make up 5% of what the committee has. … Our committee has also accessed new documents from the White House, CIA, Defense Department and Justice Department.”
10. Democrats on the Committee have shown zero interest in getting the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and a majority of them have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
- The Democrats on the Committee “have not requested a single new witness interview nor … made one single document request to any Executive Branch agency,” Chairman Gowdy noted in a letter last week. One member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on September 4th calling for the committee to be disbanded, even though its existence had virtually no impact on his personal schedule: he had failed to attend all but one hour of one witness interview in the entire history of the committee.
11. Reporters and journalists have ridiculed the Clinton team’s claim that there’s a “partisan witch hunt.”
- David Ignatius, Alexis Simendinger, Eugene Robinson, Chris Cillizza, Mark Halperin, Karen Tumulty, Bob Woodward – all agree that it’s impossible to claim this when President Obama’s own Justice Department is investigating Clinton’s email. As Ron Fournier wrote, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign—not the vast right-wing conspiracy—has repeatedly and intentionally misled the public.” Lawrence O’Donnell said Clinton’s decision to use personal email for official government business “was an absolutely unacceptable choice from the start,” Carl Bernstein said her wounds were “self-inflicted,” and John King said she “has only herself to blame.”