Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, refused to speak to investigators with the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General about her handling of a 2012 public records request for information about Clinton’s private email addresses that the agency falsely denied.
That’s according Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who sent letters last week to Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick, in response to a report Linick’s office released last month about the State Department’s mishandling of Freedom of Information Act requests for records pertaining to Clinton’s email account and private email system. (RELATED: State Dept. Gave ‘Inaccurate’ Response To Records Requests For Information About Hillary’s Email Account)
Mills was identified in that report — though by job title and not by name — as having handled a December 2012 FOIA request filed by the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, for information about Clinton’s email addresses.
Linick labeled the State Department’s handling and subsequent denial of the request — which was handed down in May 2013 — “inaccurate and incomplete.” The report noted that the FOIA request was denied even though Clinton clearly had a personal email account which Mills and many other officials knew about at the time.
According to Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brock Johnson, who worked as a State Department spokesman at the time, first emailed the FOIA request to Mills. The longtime Clinton ally then passed the request to another staffer who in turn sent it to a State Department attorney.
“After Ms. Mills received the request, she transmitted it to Ms. Heather Samuelson, a Senior Advisor and White House Liaison at the Department, instructing her to make queries as to the status of the Department’s response to the FOIA request. Ms. Samuelson then tasked it to Mr. Josh Dorosin, a State Department attorney,” Grassley’s letters read.
Grassley wonders in his letter why the FOIA request was denied despite it being passed through so many people familiar with Clinton’s off-the-books email arrangement.
Both Mills and Samuelson have maintained close ties to Clinton since leaving the State Department in February 2013. In fact, both were involved in reviewing the emails that Clinton eventually turned over to the State Department in December 2014. Politico reported in September that Samuelson was charged by Mills and Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, with sifting through Clinton’s emails to determine which ones should be kept and given to the State Department and which should be deleted.
Clinton gave 55,000 pages of emails to the agency. She has maintained that she did not deleted any work-related emails.
Finding out how the State Department came to falsely deny CREW’s FOIA request has not been an easy task, thanks in part to Mills.
Grassley writes in his letter that “when State IG attorneys investigating this matter approached Ms. Mills, she, through her attorney, refused to speak with them.”
Dorosin spoke to investigators but said he could not recall the specific FOIA request. Grassley says that it is unclear if Samuelson and Johnson were interviewed.
To find out how the FOIA request was handled at each step in the process, Grassley called on Kerry to release email traffic from November 2012 through May 2013 for all of the officials involved, as well as for Clinton and Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management. He also asked Linick for information about the State Department’s officials’ interviews with IG investigators.