Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was asked in an official congressional inquiry from former House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) about whether she used a private email for government work as far back as 2012.
The letter from Issa to Clinton, sent on Dec. 13, 2012 and obtained by Breitbart News after an explosive New York Times expose on it late Tuesday evening, specifically asks eight detailed questions about government record-keeping.
“Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal e-mail account to conduct official business?” the first question reads. “If so, please identify the account used.”
The next two questions asked about whether she or other senior agency officials used text messages or alias email accounts to send or receive government work messages – and the fourth question asks for specific details on the agency’s policies on such accounts.
“Please provide written documentation of the agency’s policies regarding the use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business, including, but not limited to, archiving and record keeping procedures, as well as disciplinary proceedings for employees in violation of these policies,” Issa asked Clinton.
The next question follows up on that. “Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using non-official accounts?” Issa asked Clinton.
The next question asks about social media accounts before the final two of the eight questions to Clinton hone in yet again on agency policies.
“What agency policies and procedures are currently in place to ensure that all messages related to official business sent or received by federal employees and contractors on private, non-governmental e-mail accounts or social networking platforms are properly categorized as federal records?” the seventh question to Clinton from Issa reads.
“Have any agency employees been subject to disciplinary proceedings for using non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business since January 20, 2009?” the final question from Issa to Clinton reads. “If so, please provide a list of names, dates of proceedings, and final outcomes.”
An identical version of Issa’s letter to Clinton was also sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Attorney General Eric Holder, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, GSA administrator Daniel Tangherlini, Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills, and Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients.
At this time, it is unclear if any other of the agencies responded to Issa’s inquiry. But thanks to a New York Times report from Michael S. Schmidt on Tuesday evening, it is now known that the State Department – through Thomas B. Gibbons, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs – responded to Issa’s letter after Clinton left office.
Clinton resigned from the State Department on Feb. 1, 2013 – as Schmidt wrote on Tuesday evening, “seven weeks after the letter [from Issa] was sent to her.”
Gibbons waited several more weeks, until March 27, 2013, to respond to Issa’s letter on the State Department’s behalf. Gibbons did not answer in that letter whether Clinton used a personal email address, and it’s unclear based on the Times report – which does not include the full text of the letter Gibbons sent back to Issa – how specific he was in answering any of the other questions Issa had for Clinton and her State Department.
“When Mr. Issa received a response from the State Department on March 27, all he got was a description of the department’s email policies,” Schmidt wrote.
From the two sections of the letter Schmidt did quote in his piece, however, it is clear that Clinton was in violation of the State Department policy that employees should not be using personal email addresses to conduct official business.
Any employee who had a personal account, Gibbons wrote in the letter according to Schmidt’s report, “should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.”
Gibbons added, according to Schmidt, that “employees may use personal email on personal time for matters not directly related to official business, and any employee using personal email ‘should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.’”
Schmidt also paraphrased another portion Gibbons’ letter by writing that the “State Department offered training on its record management programs to its employees.”
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach on Tuesday, Schmidt wrote, “declined” to “answer questions about why it had not addressed Mr. Issa’s question about whether Mrs. Clinton or senior officials used personal email accounts.”
“The department responds to thousands of congressional inquiries and requests for information each year,” Gerlach told Schmidt instead of answering specific questions. “In its March 2013 letter, the department responded to the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into the department’s ‘policies and practices regarding the use of personal email and other forms of electronic communications’ with a letter that described those policies in detail.”
There are several major takeaways from this development, as it breathes brand new life into the scandal rocking Clinton as she just launched her 2016 presidential campaign this week.
The first is that she was clearly aware that her private email account was a serious issue as far back as during her time at the State Department.
Secondly, she deliberately decided to not respond to the inquiry – waiting for officials at the State Department to do so well after she resigned, and even further after the deadline for a response. The actual deadline was Jan. 7, 2013.
The third major takeaway is that after Clinton was made aware this was an issue, she deleted upwards of 30,000 emails that she or her staff deemed to be private and not government-related. Since the full text of Gibbons’ response to Issa at this time is unavailable, it’s unclear what the official policy was – according to him – for preserving or archiving such records, or ensuring as Issa put it proper categorization of such messages.
At her widely panned press conference at the United Nations last month, Clinton herself claimed that it is a government official’s personal responsibility to determine what messages are worthy of keeping records of and which ones are not.
“In going through the emails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal that were not in any way related to my work,” she said in response to a question about that angle of the scandal. “I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear. For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related. I am very confident of the process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced. And I feel like once the American public begins to see the e- mails, they will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official’s daily communications, which I think will be quite interesting.”
It’s absolutely clear at this time, however, that she deleted emails after receiving Issa’s inquiry.
In fact, in a document released in early March 2015 – in response to the widespread media scrutiny she was receiving – the “Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton” made clear the decisions about which emails to delete and which ones to keep was made after a 2014 correspondence with senior State Department officials, well after Issa’s letter.
“Following conversations with Department officials and in response to the Department’s October 28, 2014 letter to former Secretaries requesting assistance in meeting the Department’s record-keeping requirements, Secretary Clinton directed her attorneys to assist by identifying and preserving all emails that could potentially be federal records,” the Clinton document reads. “This entailed a multi-step process to provide printed copies of the Secretary’s work-related emails to the Department, erring on the side of including anything that might potentially be a federal record. As the State Department has said, Secretary Clinton was the first to respond to this letter.”
Kurt Bardella, a former senior adviser to Issa when he was chairman of the committee–who, in the interest of full disclosure, now serves as a communications aide for Breitbart News Network–but served with Issa at the time this letter was sent to Clinton, said there are more questions than answers that are coming from this development.
“The fact is in December of 2012, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was directly asked if she used a private e-mail account,” Bardella said. “Why did the State Department wait until after Secretary Clinton left office to respond to the Issa letter? Were Secretary Clinton’s efforts to deliberately conceal her official activities through use of her private e-mail prompted by then-Chairman Issa’s request? As is status-quo with the Clintons, there are far more questions than answers and it’s likely that these revelations of her secrecy are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Clinton has been oddly secretive in her first few days as a presidential candidate. In an interview with Breitbart News earlier on Tuesday, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus argued that Clinton’s campaign rollout has been deliberately underwhelming, and she is “hiding” because she is afraid of answering any real questions from press or voters about her email scandal.
“The reason why she didn’t give a speech is because she can’t avail herself to the media,” Priebus said. “She cannot get herself in a situation where she’s going to have to deal with a question about Benghazi or about the emails or about her speeches or about the Clinton Foundation or about her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. She wants to be able to have a few days and a couple weeks of peace and change the subject from what’s been plaguing her and the only way she can do that is by hiding and that’s what she’s doing: Hiding.”
Last April House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a report implicating Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in colluding with the IRS and Lois Lerner against the nonpartisan voters rights group “True the Vote.”
Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of “True the Vote,” testified before Congress in February. She was targeted by FBI, IRS, ATF, and OSHA after she filed for tax exempt status for her voters rights group.
Engelbrecht said this during her testimony before Congress and Cummings: “Frankly, to sit before my accuser and be silent in the face of what he did was unconscionable.”
This week the House Oversight Committee released more emails that prove the IRS was feeding Rep. Cummings with confidential tax information on the voter fraud prevention group True the Vote.
New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. Further, information shows the IRS and Cummings’ staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization, indicating coordination and improper sharing of confidential taxpayer information.
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, along with five Subcommittee Chairmen are demanding Cummings provide an explanation for the staff inquiries to the IRS about True the Vote and for his denial that his staff ever contacted the IRS about the group.
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” the letter to Cummings states. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
A report published last April 2014 confirmed that Lois Lerner funneled information on Conservative group True the Vote to Democrat Cummings.
New IRS E-mails: Lois Lerner Funneled Elijah Cummings Info On Targeted Conservative Group – Ranking Democrat previously denied his staff contacted the IRS about group True the Vote
WASHINGTON – Newly delivered internal IRS e-mails sent and received by former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner and other IRS employees show that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Minority staff, working for Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, began contacting the IRS in August 2012 about targeted non-profit applicant True the Vote. The IRS produced this e-mail on April 2, 2014 – only days after Oversight Committee Members had taken new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to task for withholding relevant e-mails. The Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen on the Oversight Committee today sent a letter to Ranking Member Cummings demanding an explanation for his staff’s queries, why the Minority hid these efforts from the Majority, and why the Ranking Member denied such actions by his staff at a February Subcommittee hearing:
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” wrote the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen of the Oversight Committee. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
The letter notes:
* The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff.
* Five days after Cummings contacted True the Vote seeking “copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities,” the IRS sent True the Vote a letter requesting True the Vote provide “a copy of [True the Vote’s] volunteer registration form,” “…the process you use to assign volunteers,” “how you keep your volunteers in teams,” and “how your volunteers are deployed… following the training they receive by you.”
* On or before January 25, 2013, Cummings’ staff requested more information from the IRS about True the Vote. The head of the IRS Legislative Affairs office e-mailed several IRS officials, including former Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, that “House Oversight Committee Minority staff” sought information about True the Vote. On Monday, January 28, Lerner wrote to her deputy Holly Paz: “Did we find anything?” When Paz informed her minutes later that she had not heard back about True the Vote’s information, Lerner replied: “thanks – check tomorrow please.”
* On January 31, 2013, Paz attached True the Vote’s form 990s, which she authorized the IRS to share with the Minority staff. Neither Cummings nor the IRS shared these requested documents with the Oversight Majority. None of the Minority’s communications about True the Vote with the IRS were shared with the Committee Majority even though Ranking Member Cummings frequently complains about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff.
Cummings denied that his staff, “might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies” at a February 6, 2014, Subcommittee hearing:
Here is the exchange:
Ms. Mitchell: We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any – if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we – we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.
Mr. Cummings. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Meadows. Yes.
Mr. Cummings. I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy. What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.
Click here for a copy of the letter from the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairman to Ranking Member Cummings.
Click here for documents about Cummings’ interactions with the IRS about a targeted conservative organization.
Top Democrat Elijah Cummings faces up to five years in prison for his criminal actions.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has declared his candidacy for Speaker of the House of Representatives against John Boehner.
“After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change,” Gohmert said in a statement timed alongside a Sunday show interview with Tucker Carlson.
“There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message,” Gohmert stated. “However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up.”
“I applaud my friend Rep. Ted Yoho for putting his name forward as an alternative to the status quo. Ted is a good man for whom I could vote, but I have heard from many supporters and also friends in Congress who have urged me to put forward my name for Speaker as well to increase our chances of change. That is why I am also offering my name as a candidate for Speaker.”
Gohmert’s statement elaborated as to how he can win the Speaker’s race.
“There is false information being floated that any Republican candidates in addition to the current Speaker will split the vote and give the Speaker’s gavel to Congresswoman Pelosi,” Gohmert said. “This is nothing but a scare tactic to keep the current regime in power.”
“As long as Republicans vote for an adult American citizen for Speaker, no Democrat can win. Only if 30 Republicans voted ‘Present’ would there be a chance for a Democrat to win.”
“To win the Speaker’s race, an adult American citizen has to get a clear majority of all Members of Congress on the House floor voting for an eligible person. Voting ‘Present’ simply reduces the number of votes required to win a majority. If no one wins a majority on the first ballot, then we go to a second vote, then a third, until someone gets a majority.”
Gohmert solidified his growing stature in the Republican Party this year with the successful launch of GOHPAC, a tea party PAC to defend primary challengers from their GOP establishment rivals. The PAC helped shine a media light on young conservative candidates like Dan Bongino and Boehner’s Ohio-based primary challenger J.D. Winteregg in the run-up to Dave Brat’s historic defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in the Virginia eighth district primary.
In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said Thursday that one-third of the unaccompanied illegal minors – girls and boys – apprehended at the U.S. border had been raped during their journey.
“And half of those – I would say about one-third of those kids have been raped, have been brutalized on the way up here, so we have to take care of those kids and then respect the immigration laws, and the ones that have to be returned will be returned under the law,” said Cuellar.
“But again, I’m for supporting strong border security, but once those kids are here temporarily, we have to treat them with respect,” he added.
The one-third that Cuellar cited is comprised of both girls and boys who were sexually assaulted on the U.S., Cuellar said.
“And like I said, the kids that we talked to and the folks that take care of them, about one-third of those kids got raped on the way up here – little girls and little boys that got abused on the way up here,” he said.
So far, 5,143 unaccompanied illegal children have been apprehended along the Southwest border during the first two months of Fiscal Year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 to Nov. 30, 2014), according to the Customs and Border Patrol.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, 68,541 unaccompanied minors were apprehended during Fiscal Year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014).
California U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter made the alarming claim Tuesday that at least ten fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been apprehended trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border.
“ISIS is coming across the southern border,” Hunter told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.
“You say that they’re coming in the southern border which changes all the dynamics. Do you have any information or any evidence that they are actually coming in the southern border now?” asked the host.
“Yes,” said Hunter.
“Tell me what you know,” said Van Susteren.
“I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas,” said Hunter, who received the information from a confidential border patrol source.
“They caught them at the border, therefore we know that ISIS is coming across the border,” Hunter continued. “If they catch five or ten of them then you know there’s going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the border patrol.”
Hunter is not the first lawmaker to report such disturbing news.
Last month Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson about a report that four men with ties to terrorists were apprehended trying to enter the U.S. through Texas on Sept. 10.
Johnson said that he had heard reports “to that effect,” but did not elaborate.
In his interview Tuesday, Hunter cited remarks made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who in August warned that, because of open borders, terrorist activity posed an “immediate threat.”