A high-priced Washington, D.C. attorney who represented a key figure in the “FileGate” controversy — one of the many scandals that marred the Bill Clinton White House — is back in the thick of another Clinton imbroglio, this time as the lawyer for John Bentel, a former State Department information technology official who is refusing to talk to Congress about Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Bentel’s hiring of the Clinton-era lawyer — Randy Turk, of the firm Baker Botts — raises questions about whether the Clintons are working behind the scenes to ensure that people with potentially damaging information remain under their control, one longtime Clinton watcher says.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has also questioned Clintonworld over whether it is covering legal expenses for others involved in the Clinton email scandal. In November, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Clinton’s attorney and those of several of her aides asking whether Clinton is paying their legal bills. (RELATED: Senator Wonders If Hillary Is Covering Legal Bills For Aides)
“It’s the exact same playbook,” Citizens United president David Bossie told The Daily Caller of the similarities between the Clinton operations of the 1990s and today.
It was 1995 when Turk was hired by Craig Livingstone, who then served as head of personnel security at the White House. A former bar bouncer and campaign advance man with no personnel security experience to his name, Livingstone was accused of improperly obtaining more than 900 FBI files in 1993 and 1994 of former Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administration officials.
Republicans at the time accused the Clintons of using the records — which the FBI said were turned over in error — to compile an enemies list. Then-first lady Hillary Clinton was also accused of having viewed the files and of having pushed to hire Livingstone, charges which she denied.
One question asked during the scandal was who was paying Livingstone’s legal bills. “And why?” asked New York Times columnist William Safire.
In 1997, it emerged — thanks to a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — that the Clintons had set up a legal defense fund for Livingstone. Fifty-five of the first couple’s allies and friends pitched in $9,550 to help defray Livingstone’s legal expenses.
Bentel may soon be the target of a subpoena as well.
Grassley and Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman [crscore]Ron Johnson[/crscore] have asked the retiree — who left the State Department in December 2012 — to meet with them to discuss Clinton’s server. As director of information resource management at the State Department’s office of the executive secretariat, Bentel handled tech security issues for top officials at the agency. But Bentel has refused the senators’ request, saying that he has no memory of Clinton’s server.
He makes the second former State Department official to refuse to talk to Congress about Clinton’s server, which is at the center of an FBI investigation into the mishandling of classified information.
Bryan Pagliano, a former information technology specialist at the State Department and the IT director on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a meeting in September with the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Bentel also refused to talk to the Benghazi Committee, he and Turk told Sens. Grassley and Johnson.
But according to Politico, the Republican senators have pressed the issue, telling Bentel and Turk that they have information suggesting that a subordinate of Bentel knew of Clinton’s hardware. The Daily Caller also obtained an August 2011 email earlier this year showing that Bentel’s boss at the time, Executive Secretariat Stephen Mull, knew of Clinton’s server.
So is it mere coincidence that Bentel — who reportedly moved away from Washington, D.C. after retiring — hired Turk, whose services do not come cheap?
That’s one question Citizens United’s Bossie is asking.
“It’s interesting that Randy Turk is back on the grid after this many years,” he told TheDC.
“Who’s paying this retired IT guy’s legal bills? Is anybody within the Clinton operation making recommendations?”
Turk did not respond to TheDC’s questions on the matter. Nor did the Clinton campaign.
There is another notable connection point that can’t be overlooked. One of the contributors to Livingstone’s legal defense fund was Vernon Jordan Jr., a longtime Clinton friend and Washington, D.C. powerbroker.
Jordan has long worked for the high-profile law firm Akin Gump. Clinton’s campaign treasurer, Jose Villarreal, is also a consultant for the firm. (RELATED: Law Firm Representing Hillary’s IT Guy Has Donated Heavily To Her Campaign)
And as it turns out, Bryan Pagliano’s attorney, Mark MacDougall, works there as well.
Akin Gump told TheDC in September that Pagliano — who recently accepted immunity in order to cooperate with the FBI — was put in touch with MacDougall through a family friend. The firm did not elaborate further.