Tags: Hillary Clinton | charles grassley | hillary clinton | state | department | foia | requests

Sen. Grassley Irate Over Reports of Clinton State Dept. FOIA Interference

By    |   Tuesday, 26 May 2015 06:19 PM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is demanding answers from the State Department regarding Hillary Clinton's ongoing email scandal and whether or not her staff inappropriately got involved in FOIA requests.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Grassley asked a series of questions and pointed out inconsistencies between media reports and claims from the Clinton camp surrounding her use of private email addresses and a private server during her time as Secretary of State (2009-2013).

Grassley also attempted to find out more information about FOIA requests, and whether media reports about members of Clinton's staff using their position to interfere with them are true.

"In addition to Secretary Clinton's actions, news reports indicate that her staff, including her Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, took a special interest in reviewing and approving State Department responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on behalf of Secretary Clinton," Grassley wrote in the May 22 letter, which was obtained by Politico.

"According to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Mills exercised substantial control of document production, going so far as to 'flag as problematic a few [documents] that the department's records-law specialists felt obligated to release[.]' In one instance, a State Department employee wrote an email in reference to a pending document release and noted, 'I believe, though, that this is still pending with Cheryl Mills' office...The real action, for now, is with Cheryl's office.

"In the aggregate, the FOIA management dynamics at the State Department during Secretary Clinton's tenure is troubling. Indeed, the State Department's chief FOIA official recently testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Secretary Clinton's actions were 'not acceptable.' Notably, President Obama declared early in his Presidency that, 'The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.'

"Moreover, the President stated, 'Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve.' But as recent reports indicate, it appears the political concerns of senior agency staff are undermining the public's right to know under FOIA. This is, without question, a far cry from the spirit of our nation's transparency laws, as well as from the President's 'presumption of openness.'"

Grassley asked nine questions at the bottom of his letter, three of which pertain to FOIA requests.

"Generally, is it standard protocol for the Secretary of State's Chief of Staff to review documents subject to a FOIA request before production? Is it within the Chief of Staff's authority to withhold documents from production under a valid FOIA request?" Grassley wrote.

"When there is a conflict between the State Department's FOIA administrative structure, including specialists in the Office of Government Information Services, and a political appointee regarding a document, which individual/entity ultimately has authority to make the decision to produce the document?

"When there is a conflict between the State Department's FOIA administrative structure, including specialists in the Office of Government Information Services, and the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State, which individual ultimately has authority to make the decision to produce the document?"

Grassley added there could be "serious doubt" in the department's FOIA compliance if Clinton used private email addresses to bypass official government channels.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee has direct jurisdiction over FOIA," Grassley wrote. "Accordingly, the Committee needs a clearer understanding of the effects Secretary Clinton's actions have had on FOIA compliance. If high level officials like Secretary Clinton use not one, but two, private email addresses that can circumvent official government email channels, compliance with the intent, spirit and plain language of FOIA, as well as other relevant law, is in serious doubt."

Clinton is running for president and has gone unchallenged from other Democrats running or thinking of running, as she has led every poll of potential Democrat candidates for months, Real Clear Politics documents.

At the moment, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only other official candidate on the left.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is demanding answers from the State Department regarding Hillary Clinton's ongoing email scandal and whether or not her staff inappropriately got involved in FOIA requests.
charles grassley, hillary clinton, state, department, foia, requests
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2015-19-26
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 06:19 PM
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