There remain unanswered questions about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address for official State Department business, as well as her own personal server, located at her home in New York. But what is clear is that Secretary Clinton didn’t hand over her emails out of the goodness of her heart. She was forced to by smart, determined, and effective oversight by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Today she claimed: “I feel that I have taken unprecedented steps to provide these public emails; they will be in the public domain.”
But the fact is she never would have turned over those emails were it not for the House Benghazi inquiry. It’s easy for her to claim openness and transparency now, but she had no intention of ever turning over those emails, as The New York Times documented:
Why did Mrs. Clinton provide the State Department with copies of emails from her personal account?
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman and the State Department have cast her decision to hand over the emails as motivated by the department’s efforts to update its record management system. “When the department asked former secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes,” Nick Merrill, the spokesman, said on Sunday. But State Department officials briefed on the matter have said that the agency asked for the documents as it sought to comply with a request from a special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The paper has also described in detail the negotiations under which Secretary Clinton was forced to turn over some of her emails:
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman and the State Department have cast her decision to hand over her emails as motivated by efforts to update the department’s record management system. “When the department asked former secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes,” Nick Merrill, the Clinton spokesman, said on Sunday.
But it was the review of Benghazi-related documents last summer that, within the State Department, set off the chain of events leading to the public disclosure this week of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email account, according to the current and former department officials.
The decision to ask Mrs. Clinton for her emails went all the way to Secretary of State John Kerry’s chief of staff, who, along with officials working on the response to the Benghazi requests, signed off on it.
Beginning in August, senior State Department officials held negotiations with Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers and advisers to gain access to her personal email records. At one point, her advisers met face-to-face with department officials in Washington.
In October, the State Department sent a letter to Mrs. Clinton and all former secretaries of state back to Madeleine K. Albright, seeking emails and other documents in their possession that related to their government work.
Finally, in December, dozens of boxes filled with 50,000 pages of printed emails from Mrs. Clinton’s personal account were delivered to the State Department. Those documents were then examined by department lawyers, who found roughly 900 pages pertaining to the Benghazi attacks.
Three weeks ago, the State Department handed over the Benghazi emails to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina.
“What we need are facts. The American people deserve the truth about what happened, and that’s all what we’re interested in.”