Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton: Congress 'AWOL' on ‘All Significant Investigations of Misconduct by Federal Gov’t.’

By Barbara Hollingsworth | August 12, 2016 | 3:53pm EDT
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. (Judicial Watch)

(CNSNews.com) –  Congress has been “AWOL [absent without leave] on almost all significant investigations of misconduct by the federal government,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told CNSNews.com on Thursday.

Fitton made the comments after the conservative watchdog group made public 296 pages of previously unreleased State Department records, including 44 emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to turn over last year despite her sworn declaration that she had done so.

The emails “show [that] the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law,” according to the conservative watchdog group, which currently has 18 active Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits.

Over the past four years, Judicial Watch has uncovered troves of new information dating back to 2009 on Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business and the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya while she was secretary of state that has apparently eluded seven congressional committees.

CNSNews.com asked Fitton if any members of Congress have been in contact with his group regarding these latest revelations.

We have not had any interest from members of Congress in our work,” Fitton replied.

Asked if he was surprised by that, Fitton answered: “No. Congress as an institution is AWOL on almost all significant investigations of misconduct by the federal government,” he said.

Whether they’re incapable or unwilling or too conflicted or compromised, they are not conducting investigations of any significant nature. So we keep on doing our work independent of Congress.

CNSNews also asked Fitton if he was surprised to discover that former Clinton aide Huma Abedin was allowed to work at the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm tied to the Clinton family while she was employed at the State Department.

“I was not surprised at all, and this is the tip of the iceberg, I guarantee you,” he replied.

State Dept. documents also show that on Dec. 11, 2012, spokesman Brock Johnson informed Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief-of staff, that “Anne Weismann [of] Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) [is] requesting records sufficient [to] show the number of .email accounts associated with” Clinton.

On Wednesday, Judicial Watch released Mills’ responses to interrogatories in which Mills acknowledged “having conversations with Bryan Pagliano….in or around March 2013, when the email account of [Clinton advisor] Sidney Blumenthal was compromised by a hacker known as Guccifer. As I recall, these discussions involved whether this event might affect Secretary Clinton’s email…”

Pagliano, who helped set up Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state, refused to testify before a House committee investigating Benghazi.

In April, President Obama said he would not interfere with the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s private email server. But “there was no investigation to interfere with,” Fitton told CNSNews.

Fitton noted that the FBI’s Public Integrity Unit failed to find any criminal offenses despite the fact that classified information was found on Clinton’s private server.

In a July 5 statement, FBI director James Comey said that “although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

That was the same FBI unit that also investigated the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of 426 tax-exempt organizations, including many conservative and Tea Party groups, Fitton pointed out.

Last October, the Justice Department informed members of Congress that “our investigation found no evidence that any IRS employee acted with criminal intent…. What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action – but it does not warrant criminal prosecution.”

Judicial Watch has been granted discovery by two federal judges in two of the 18 FOIA cases it has filed. One of those two cases involves Abedin’s outside employment with the Clinton Foundation.

The other lawsuit involves the now discredited “talking points” used by former UN Ambassador Susan Rise in an discredited attempt to link an anti-Muslim video with the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Judicial Watch provided CNSNews with a list of its major court filings:

Huma employment - The lawsuit seeks records regarding the authorization for Abedin to engage in outside employment while employed by the Department of State. It was reopened because of revelations about the clintonemail.com system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)). 

Benghazi talking points - July 2014 Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records and communications in the Secretary’s Office related to the since discredited talking points used by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to describe the nature of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). 

 We asked. They said they had nothing further. We believed them. September 2013, JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA lawsuit) against the State Department seeking records concerning Huma Abedin’s “special government employee” status, which allowed her to represent outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State.

Abedin’s outside clients included Teneo, a strategic consulting firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. According to Fox News, Abedin earned just under ½ million dollars: $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, in addition to her $135,000 SGE compensation.

March 12, 2015, after reports of HRC’s non-government email system were made public, JW, citing misconduct and misrepresentation by HRC and State, asked a federal court to reopen the lawsuit that had been closed in good faith.

Case reopened. Court ordered production ignored. Records nearly destroyed.

 June 19, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan reopened This is the second Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit that has been reopened because of Hillary Clinton’s hidden email records.  Judicial Watch is aware of no prior instances of Freedom of Information lawsuits being reopened by federal courts.

July 31, Judge Sullivan ordered the State Department to request that Clinton and her top aides confirm, under penalty of perjury, that they have produced all government records in their possession, return any other government records immediately, and describe their use of Hillary Clinton’s email server to conduct government business.

August 6, State Department, as directed by a July 31 court order, provided the letters it sent asking for government records in the possession of HRC and Co.   The letters show that, on July 31, the State Department, for the first time, demanded that Mills and Abedin “return all copies of potential federal records in your possession.”  The State Department did not provide correspondence demanding Mrs. Clinton return all copies of potential federal records.  Despite the court’s July 31 order for immediate disclosure, the State Department and its Justice Department attorneys took six days to disclose the 13 letters, which total 19 pages.

August 7, Clinton and company ignored the July 31 court order that they provide assurances under penalty of perjury about that all records in their possession have been produced and to describe their use of HRCs’ email system. Mills attorney instructed her to delete any emails following the planned Aug 10 production date. JW immediately notified the court of this plan to destroy federal records!  That same night, Judge Sullivan ordered the preservation of emails.

August 8, Hillary Clinton submits email information to the court under penalty of perjury

State Department foot dragging and gamesmanship.

August 17, Judicial Watch is granted an early hearing because State had yet to make an effort to find out what electronic devices HRC and company used to conduct official government business for four years or where these electronic devices may be located or if they are still in existence.

Similarly, State offered no evidence whatsoever concerning servers, backups, or other devices in its possession.

 August 19, JW learns that State did not provide a secure BlackBerry to HRC. Hello, Best Buy?

August 20, the court orders the government to talk to itself and sort itself out.  State is ordered to begin an effort to coordinate with the FBI in a search for responsive records.

Embarrassing documents begin to appear.

September 21, JW released more than 50 pages of new emails from the clintonemail.com server account of Huma Abedin showing the exact movements of the Secretary of State on the unsecure email system, endangering the lives of countless people.

September 24, documents show Clinton approved the “special government employee” sweetheart deal for Abedin.

October 16, Abedin failed to produce important financial transaction records of her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, as required by law before obtaining her position as a “special government employee.” Abedin also failed to provide any information on future employment.

New Year, new, embarrassing documents.

January 6, 2016, email shows Mills was toying with her new company logo the day after the Benghazi attack.

January 11, State Department found “thousands” of new records from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

February 1, documents show a plans for a hidden IT network by setting up a “stand-alone PC” so that Clinton could  check her emails in an office “across the hall” through a separate, non-State Department computer network system.

February 2, The FBI confirms for the first time that Mrs. Clinton’s use of a “private” email server is a matter for law enforcement. 

February 16, State Department records show the agency asked HRC to return emails in July 2014, rather than November as State told the court.

Judicial Watch gets testimony under oath.

February 23, the court grants JW “discovery” and opens the door to deposing Hillary

Meanwhile, more emails.

March 16, State Department documents show that NSA rebuffed HRC’s attempts to obtain a secure BlackBerry.

April 26, State released a Benghazi-related email that if released when it was first supposedly found, would have disclosed HRC’s email system years earlier.

We announce those to be deposed.

May 4, Judicial Watch announces that former top Clinton State Department aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Bryan Pagliano are among those to be deposed.  The court also notes that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.”

The email hits keep coming.

May 5, JW releases over 240 pages of emails that again appear to contradict statements by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails were turned over to the State Department and that she did not use her clintonemail.com system until March 18, 2009. An email by Abedin says she’s displeased with Clinton’s “I’m Exhausted Thing.”

May 9, hard evidence arrives that Clinton IT Director Pagliano was foisted upon the State Department by a top Clinton political operative. 

May 12, Clinton emails reveal Clinton knew about the security risk of a private BlackBerry and that she avoided the use of a secure phone.

Deposition testimony and drama.

May 26, the deposition of Ambassador Lewis Lukens, former deputy assistant secretary of state and executive director of the State Department’s executive secretariat, is released.

May 31, the deposition of Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff throughout her four years as secretary of state, is released.

June 3, the court orders Pagliano to produce his immunity agreement and the legal basis for asserting Fifth Amendment claims.

June 6, the deposition of Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, executive secretary of the State Department from June 1020 to October 2012, who suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be issued a State Department BlackBerry, which would protect her identity and would also be subject to FOIA requests, is released.

Recently, Bryan Pagliano’s attorneys confirm for the first time that Mr. Pagliano has “use” immunity agreements with federal prosecutors investigating the Clinton email matter. 

Karin Lang deposition.

Judicial Watch Releases State Department Inspector General Investigation Records Related to Hillary Clinton Emails

Bryan Pagliano deposition.

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