Hillary Clinton battled South Carolina Rep. [crscore]Trey Gowdy[/crscore] during the final leg of her testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday over whether she was obligated turn over emails between her and her longtime friend, Sidney Blumenthal.
Clinton resorted to lawyerly obfuscation in explaining why she was not required to provide those emails to the State Department.
Though Clinton has repeatedly claimed she turned over all of her work-related emails, emails that Blumenthal gave the committee earlier this year showed that his records included at least 15 emails that Clinton did not give the State Department.
Clinton appeared unable to explain the missing records and so resorted to a cagey response.
“I was under no obligation to make any of his emails available unless I decided they were work-related,” Clinton claimed. “And the ones I decided were work-related I forwarded to the state.gov accounts of the people with whom I worked.”
Gowdy, who chairs the Benghazi Committee, appeared puzzled by Clinton’s statement.
“Is there any question that the 15 that [Blumenthal attorney] James Cole turned over to us were work-related? There’s no ambiguity about that. They were work-related,” he said.
While Clinton and Blumenthal have been friends for decades, the former journalist and Bill Clinton White House aide frequently sent the then-secretary of state intelligence reports about issues clearly related to State Department business. The reports dealt with goings-on in Europe, the Middle East and Libya. In some cases, Blumenthal urged Clinton to advance the business interests of Osprey Global Solutions, a defense contractor that he was involved with.
Clinton often forwarded those reports and other emails from Blumenthal to her State Department aides. She also frequently encouraged Blumenthal to continue to provide intelligence. In some cases she forwarded his reports to the White House. Clinton scrubbed Blumenthal’s name from those records, however — a fact which was also brought up during Thursday’s hearing.
The White House famously blocked Clinton’s State Department from hiring Blumemthal.
In explaining why she did not deem Blumenthal’s messages to be work-related, Clinton said: “They were from a personal friend, not any official government official, and they were, I determined on the basis of looking at them, what I thought was work-related and what wasn’t and some I did not have time to the read.”
“On the 15, did your lawyers find them and decide they were not work-related or did they not find them?” Gowdy asked.
“I don’t know why he had emails I didn’t, and I don’t know why, apparently, I had emails he didn’t. And all I can tell you is I turned over every work-related email in my possession,” she said.