State Department fights Benghazi panel on emails

State Department fights Benghazi panel on emails
© Getty Images

The State Department is pushing back against plans from Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi to release more than 200 documents ahead of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE’s public testimony this week.

In a memo to the committee obtained by The Hill, the State Department warned top Republican committee staffers that the documents had not gone through the proper review process to be released publicly.

“As a result, it is the department’s position that these documents are not appropriate for public release,” the State Department said in the Oct. 17 memo.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, given the committee’s “stated intent to [publicly] release them,” the department made changes that it said “reflects our best efforts — within the limited timeframe allowed by the committee — to redact any sensitive information that could damage national security, subject any people or U.S. facilities to harm or damage, interfere with any law enforcement activities or result in an unwarranted intrusion of personal privacy.”

The warning follows committee Republicans’ notice last week that they would release 1,500 new Clinton emails concerning the situation in Libya around the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi. Much of those emails were sent to Clinton from longtime associate Sidney Blumenthal, and contained information from private analysts about the situation in Libya.

Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy remembers political opponent, good friend Elijah Cummings Hill editor-in-chief: 'Hard to imagine' House leadership without Cummings Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 MORE (R-S.C.) warned the State Department that he would release Blumenthal’s emails without any redactions if it did not quickly respond, the department’s memo indicated.

In response, committee spokesman Jamal Ware said that the State Department was merely protecting itself against the possibility that secret information is revealed to the public. 

“The State Department wrote this letter to protect its equities in litigation because it has no say in the decisions of the judiciary,” he said in a statement.

“Similarly, State has understood from the beginning the committee retains its constitutional right to conduct oversight, which may include public release of the documents,” he added. “That is why the State Department entered into an agreement with the committee to protect sensitive information understanding all along that material may be released.

“All three branches of government are now entangled in the mess caused by Secretary Clinton's unusual email arrangement.”

The State Department memo was previously reported on by Politico.

Clinton is scheduled to testify in an open session of the Benghazi panel on Thursday.

Committee lawmakers were engaged in a partisan fight this weekend over the name of a CIA source contained in Clinton’s email inbox. The name of that source — former Libyan official Mousa Kousa — was accidentally revealed by the Benghazi Committee, due to what the State Department described as a “human error."