Statement on the Release of Secretary Clinton’s Benghazi Emails
Washington, DC— Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., today issued the following statement after the State Department released 300 self-selected emails from former Secretary Hillary Clinton, over which the department had no control and no custody for nearly two years. These emails were turned over to the State by former Secretary Clinton in the fall of 2014 in reaction to a request from the Select Committee:
“More than six months after the Select Committee first discovered Secretary Clinton’s unusual email arrangement with herself, and after the media discovered Secretary Clinton relied exclusively on a personal server housing a personal email account eschewing any official email address, State Department transferred 300 messages exclusively reviewed and released by her own lawyers,” Gowdy said. “These lawyers, it must be noted, owed and continue to owe a fiduciary responsibility to Secretary Clinton to protect her interests. To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility."
“It is also important to remember these email messages are just one piece of information that cannot be completely evaluated or fully understood without the total record. The Committee is working to collect and evaluate all of the relevant and material information necessary to evaluate the full range of issues in context. We will not reach any investigative conclusions until our work is complete, but these emails continue to reinforce the fact that unresolved questions and issues remain as it relates to Benghazi.”
“The Select Committee continues to believe the American people have a right to the full and complete record of her official emails and, therefore, asked Secretary Clinton to turn her server and the full body of emails over to a neutral, detached, independent third party for review. This is also why the State Department must comply with a months-old subpoena for emails of the former Secretary’s top aides, whose emails have never been received or reviewed by any congressional committee."
“The Committee’s interest is in building a complete record from which the final, definitive accounting regarding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi can be provided. The best way to answer all questions related to the attacks in Benghazi continues to be having access to the full public record, not a "record" controlled, possessed and screened exclusively by Secretary Clinton's personal lawyers.”
Background Information on Released Emails:
Among the emails the Select Committee finds highlight the existence of significant investigative questions:
- September 24, 2012—“Compiled protest and Benghazi Statements.” A document that reinforces issues relating to characterization of the motives for the attacks. For example, Jake Sullivan noted, “You never said spontaneous or characterized the motives. In fact you were careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method. The way you treated the video in the Libya context was to say that some sought to *justify* the attack on that basis.”
- August 24, 2012 — “H: Intel on new Libya president. Sid.” In this document two and a half weeks before the attacks, Jake Sullivan writes to the Secretary, “Some warning signs,” in response to the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi, which forced the Red Cross to suspend activities, and reinforces questions about what was done in response to these warnings.
- April 4, 2012—“Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on Libya.” This document characterizes Secretary Clinton’s ownership of U.S. policy in Libya.
- April 8, 2011—“UK game playing; new rebel strategists; Egypt moves in. Sid” In this document, Secretary Clinton responded to a Blumenthal memo with, “Fyi. The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”
There are several instances of State personnel notifying the Secretary about security concerns and issues:
- April 10, 2011 – Forwarded email about deteriorating security
- April 22, 2011 – Request for continuous coverage in Benghazi, “security permitting”
- April 24, 2011 – Forwarded email about hotels being targeted
- June 10, 2011 – Email including information about credible threat info against hotel and that personnel are evacuating to alternate locations
- August 21, 2011 – Email regarding concerns about Islamist militias
- January 9, 2012 – Email stating that disarming and reintegrating of militias isn’t going as well as they had hoped
- February 24, 2012 – Email stating that militia rivalries are dangerous
- August 24, 2012 – Email stating that there are “some warning signs”
The Committee also has an interest in understanding the inexplicable gaps in the Secretary’s emails during key times of her involvement in Libyan policy, including:
June 10-August 8, 2011—Time period where Secretary Clinton was heavily involved in Libya policy
September 14-October 21 2011—Dates of Secretary Clinton’s trip to Libya, when the now-famous picture of Clinton on her blackberry was taken
October 21, 2011-January 5, 2012—Time period when the State Department was extending the Benghazi mission for another year
April 27- July 4 2012—Time period of increased security during which an IED was thrown at the compound blasting a hole through the wall and during which the British ambassador was attacked