A trove of emails that the State Department gave the House Select Committee on Benghazi only two weeks ago show that longtime Hillary Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal pushed his business interests in Libya on the then-secretary of state and that she forwarded an email discussing a CIA source which was classified at the time it was sent.
That’s according to House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Trey Gowdy, who stated in a letter sent Thursday to Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings that he plans to release the 1,500 emails within the next five days.
Much of Gowdy’s 13-page letter is spent responding to recent claims made by Cummings and other Democrats that Republicans are using the Benghazi investigation in order to hurt Clinton’s presidential chances.
But Gowdy shot down those accusations, saying that the committee has uncovered numerous new details about the security in place ahead of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and on the Obama administration’s response to it.
The latter half of the letter is more damning for Clinton. It centers on communications between the Democratic presidential contender and Blumenthal, a former journalist who has been a Clinton confidante for decades.
Though many of the exchanges involved discussions about Libya and Benghazi, the State Department turned the records over only two weeks ago. In May, the State Department released what it claimed at the time were all of the emails related to the North African country.
While it is still unclear why the agency withheld the documents for so long, the discovery of the records corresponds with the departure of Catherine Duval. She took a job in the legal affairs division of the State Department last August and handled the production of Clinton’s emails. Duval, who previously worked at the IRS on the production of Lois Lerner’s emails, had also worked at Williams & Connolly, the law firm that employees Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall.
In his letter to Cummings, Gowdy refers to emails from Blumenthal which indicate that he was pushing business interests on behalf of a company called Osprey Global Solutions, which sought private contracts in post-civil war Libya. That despite Blumenthal having no official position within the U.S. government. In fact, the Obama administration famously blocked him from a job at Clinton’s State Department because of his dirty political work during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Other Blumenthal emails show that the Clinton insider was heavily critical of Obama and other U.S. officials.
“The fact that former Secretary Clinton relied so heavily on an individual for the Libyan intervention, her quintessential foreign policy initiative, whom the White House explicitly prohibited from working at the State Department is mind boggling,” Gowdy wrote.
“Blumenthal was not merely acting as a steward of information to Secretary Clinton but was acting as her de facto political advisor.”
Gowdy says that beginning in Feb. 2011, Blumenthal sent numerous emails — with subject lines such as “Latest Libya intel,” “No fly zone over Libya,” “Intel on Gaddafi’s reinforcements,” and “Libya WMD” — to Clinton in an effort to convince her to depose Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and install private security forces.
Gowdy says that Clinton often responded to these emails, which were full of “unvetted intelligence,” and forwarded them to her top aides. When Blumenthal’s missives to Clinton were first revealed in May, Clinton defended herself by saying that her friend’s emails were “unsolicited.”
“Dozens of emails between Clinton and Blumenthal show an individual who tried to heavily influence the Secretary of State to intervene in Libya,” Gowdy writes in his letter.
He asserts that Blumenthal “pushed hard” for a no-fly zone in Libya even before senior U.S. official began discussing that strategy internally. In a Feb. 22, 2011 email, Clinton told Blumenthal that she was presenting the no-fly zone option to the “[U.N.] Security Council.” She urged him to “stay tuned!”
The U.S. pushed the no-fly zone through the U.N. Security Council soon after.
Gowdy also asserts that Blumenthal’s emails show a strong distaste for President Obama and other top U.S. officials. In one email, Blumenthal pointed to polls which showed that voters were faulting Obama for not pursuing intervention in Libya.
Blumenthal unloaded on “[Obama] and his political cronies in the WH and in Chicago.” He asserted that they were “to say the least, unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya or anywhere else in the [Middle East].”
“Why is that? Hmmm. Obama’s lukewarm and self contradicting statements have produced what is at least for the moment, operational paralysis,” Blumenthal continued.
After the no-fly zone was established in Libya, emails show that Blumenthal pushed Clinton to pursue a strategy of arming rebels in order to depose Gaddafi.
In a memo entitled “Win this War,” Blumenthal wrote that “victory cannot be achieved without the rebels gaining ground, getting to the gates of Tripoli, an uprising, and marching in.”
The Libyan civil war and the overthrow of Gaddafi has been cited by Clinton and her allies as one of her crowning achievements while in office. But Gaddafi’s removal left a vacuum of power, one which was filled by terrorists — the kind that launched the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.
Clinton responded internally to the memo, telling her aide, Jake Sullivan, in a March 30, 2011 email that the information was “quite troubling.”
“I agree about the need to keep the attack tempo up,” she wrote the next day.
Gowdy offers a theory about why Blumenthal was so interested in regime change in Libya. As has been previously reported, Blumenthal was in business with a controversial former CIA operative named Tyler Drumheller and Cody Shearer, a longtime Clinton loyalist. As other Blumenthal correspondence has made clear, Drumheller and Shearer, through Osprey Global Solutions, were the authors of much of the information Blumenthal shared with Clinton.
Gowdy highlights an exchange from July 2011 which indicates that Blumenthal was directly pushing his business interests in Osprey. Emails also suggest that Clinton helped advance those efforts.
In a July 14, 2011 email, Blumenthal urged Clinton to endorse Osprey during a meeting she had scheduled in Turkey.
“Tyler, Cody and I acted as honest brokers, putting this arrangement together through a series of connections, linking the Libyans to Osprey and keeping it moving,” wrote Blumenthal, who asked Clinton to convey that Osprey could provide medical help and military training to the National Transition Council, which served as the temporary government following the Libyan civil war.
Clinton forwarded the email to Sullivan, asking him to read it before discussion the next day. To Blumenthal, she wrote: “Got it. Will followup tomorrow. Anything else to convey?”
Gowdy also states that Blumenthal sent Clinton information that was apparently classified. In a March 18, 2011 email, Blumenthal stated that “Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted].”
“This information, the name of a human source, is some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but also human lives,” Gowdy wrote to Cummings.
Clinton forwarded that sensitive email to a colleague, thus “debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address.”
In announcing the release of the emails, Gowdy said that they will be available by the time Clinton appears publicly before the Benghazi Committee on Oct. 22. He said that the information in the emails will likely be brought up during the hearing, which Democrats are working hard to prevent from occurring.
Gowdy also said that the newly-revealed emails means that the Benghazi Committee will need to hear from Blumenthal again. He first testified in a closed-door setting in June.
“The revelations in these new emails raise the likelihood that the Committee will need to bring back Sidney Blumenthal to reopen his deposition,” Gowdy wrote.