A former State Department employee has come out for the first time with the shocking allegation that people close to Hillary Clinton withheld damning documents involving security lapses pertaining to the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, at the time a high-ranking employee in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said that his department was tasked with collecting Benghazi-related documents and emails shortly after the incident, in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Daily Signal reports.
Maxwell says that he was not present when the decision was allegedly made to “separate” the documents. The after-hours session took place during the weekend in the basement of State Department headquarters, in a room he described as looking like a “crisis room” straight out of a Hollywood thriller: a big room with large monitors and computers used for emergency planning.
The Daily Signal reports that Maxwell heard about the meeting after it had occurred, and decided to investigate on a Sunday afternoon. He found stacks and boxes of documents, and an office manager who had gone to the meeting without informing him, even though he was technically her superior. Maxwell described her as being close to top Clinton advisers.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor [Where the offices of the Secretary and her immediate staff are located] in a bad light. ”
“I asked her, ‘but isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.'”
Soon after this exchange, Maxwell relates that two officials who were close to Clinton came in briefly to check on the proceedings of the operation.
After spending a short time looking through papers he says included pre-attack telegrams between the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and the State Department in Washington, Maxwell grew uncomfortable and left.
This raises more questions about the State Department’s Benghazi narrative. When the Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigated the Benghazi attacks in October 2012, it was supposedly granted “unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed.” But according to Maxwell, significant documents could not have made it to the ARB. Maxwell has also criticized the ARB as “anything but independent,” and cited co-chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement before Congress that he had consulted Clinton chief of Staff Cheryl Mills over the phone to give her insider advice after the interviewing potential congressional witnesses.
Maxwell says, “The ARB inquiry was, at best, a shoddily executed attempt at damage control, both in [State Dept. Headquarters in ] Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill.”
Predictably, the State Department has swiftly denounced Maxwell, calling his allegations that documents were held back from investigators “totally without merit.”
Maxwell, a former Navy officer who worked in foreign service for 21 years, was placed on leave by the State Department. He says he was a scapegoat, though no formal accusations were made and he was cleared of all wrongdoing before retiring in November 2013.
Maxwell talked to a State Department ombudsman to discover why he was being placed on leave. He recounts his experience:
“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you.’ I told her that ‘My name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me.’ Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016.”
Raymond Maxwell is now retired from the State Department and has obtained a master’s degree in library information science. Hillary Clinton continues to fuel speculation about a possible 2016 presidential run.