Were Hillary Clinton’s missing Blackberries backed-up? Who did Sidney Blumenthal talk to that spilled classified information to him, and to whom (besides Clinton) did he give it? Was the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violated by Bill Clinton? All these questions and more were asked and answered by Chairman Jason Chaffetz of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee who joined me this morning to outline the hearings ahead for Team Clinton this fall:
HH: I’m so pleased to welcome to the program Jason Chaffetz, Congressman from Utah, chairman of the house Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Chaffetz, a good Tuesday morning to you, thank you for joining me early.
JC: Hey, good morning. Good morning.
HH: Hey, the FBI report is what I want to focus on. There are so many questions raised and left unanswered by this report. What was your reaction to it?
JC: Well, first, it’s a good start. You’re starting to see a portion of what the FBI has produced. But I see no reason why they shouldn’t release all the unclassified documents. This one, they dumped, you know, afternoon on the Friday before Labor Day. But it’s chock full of more information, but there’s more to come.
HH: Will you be holding hearings on this report?
JC: We will be holding hearings. And I’m sure this report will toggle into that as well.
HH: What sort of witness list can we expect for those hearings?
JC: We, well, I don’t want to reveal it, yet, but we do have a hearing, two that are scheduled that are coming up. One is the Freedom of Information Act, how is it the State Department essentially lied to the media, the world, and the public? And remember, it’s our information. These aren’t Hillary Clinton’s emails. These are federal records. And so we want to know from the State Department how they misled the American public for so long. The second thing we want to do and have scheduled for a week from, or for next Monday is all these redactions that they’ve given, all of these things. We may need to go into a classified setting, because the FBI, State Department, Department of Defense, others, they’re holding information back that members of Congress should be able to see as well as the public.
HH: Now Chairman Chaffetz, I note in particular Footnote QQQ of the FBI report in which it is said that the FBI obtained 177 of Sidney Blumenthal’s memos. More on him in a moment. The FBI recovered two additional memos during the investigation from Blackberry backups provided by Cooper. I’ve never heard of Blackberry backups before. Had you?
JC: Well, actually, this came up in the IRS hearings that we looked at, because while the IRS told the world that they had looked through everything and they had certified that they couldn’t find anything, the Inspector General went and said hey, let’s go look at the Blackberry backups. And we still have a lot of questions about what the FBI did and did not do in terms of recovery. And were those documents, again, federal records, were they destroyed once there was a preservation order and a subpoena in place? It looks like the answer is yes.
HH: It does. That was my next question. It does look to me as though the Congress sent out subpoenas, and documents were destroyed after those subpoenas went out. Is that your conclusion?
JC: The, we will have letters out later today, and I think you’ll see that laid out in a more specific timeline. But I issued a preservation letter in September of 2012. Darrell Issa put one out. Trey Gowdy put out a subpoena. And then if you look at the proximity of when documents were destroyed, you know, we’ve got some questions.
HH: Document hold letters may not be familiar to our audience, but they have the legal force of obliging people not to destroy documents in a civil or a criminal setting, and to do so is an obstruction of justice, correct?
JC: It is.
HH: Let me go to another detail. This one was new to me, that the Pagliano server and the PRN, the Platte River Network servers, were stored at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, New Jersey. Now I didn’t know that. I assume you did know that. But do we have any idea whether they have security protocols in place governing the people that work there?
JC: No. One of my biggest concerns is that what the FBI provided to us, the names of the people, some of the details of this were classified, were redacted. Now there’s no classification here. By their very definition, these are not covert operators. They did not have security clearances. And that’s why we want to get to and know who these people are, what did they do, when did they do it. There’s a lot of questions that I think our letters out later today will help clarify.
HH: Yeah, there’s also a reference to another company, Datto, that had a backup device in Connecticut that took multiple snapshots of Hillary’s server system daily with a retention period of 60 days. Do we know any, had you, did you know anything about Datto?
JC: There are at least three other companies that we have not yet mentioned, again, all outside purveyors that were able to touch this. My concern, one of the biggest flaws that Hillary Clinton did is took classified information, some of it so secure and sensitive that even I as the chairman of the Oversight Committee do not have the proper security clearance to see, because it, they’re very compartmentalized, the Special Access Program stuff. But they don’t have security clearance, and she granted them the security clearance without the authorization, without the background checks. And who knows what they did with this material, because the FBI didn’t recover any of the actual phones themselves, and it begs a lot of questions of what these IT people did, didn’t do, where are the backups, where is this hanging out, and were they hacked?
HH: That brings me to my last specific question. John O’Neill is a fabled FBI agent. He was the number one al Qaeda chaser. He knew more about bin Laden, forced out of the FBI in 2000 in part because he lost a briefcase with sensitive material in it. Here, we have 13 Blackberries missing, 2 of 5 iPads, and one laptop. If anybody else lost this many devices or even one device with sensitive material, some of it classified, some of it SAP, could they get a clearance ever?
JC: No. I mean, I asked Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, this question. I asked the FBI director this question. And no, the answer is no. And that’s the thing, the double standard, I think, concerns most of us.
HH: Pages 25 and 26 of the FBI report concerns Sidney Blumenthal. Have you been in, has he testified before your committee when you’ve been a member able to ask questions, Mr. Chairman?
JC: No. I know that Trey Gowdy and the Select Committee behind closed doors did interview him quite extensively, but I personally have not.
HH: Do you have any plans to call him as a witness?
JC: He might. He might. I mean, we still have a lot of moving parts here, and we’re trying to recover this. This, Hugh, this is potentially one of the largest breaches of security in the history of the State Department. So we’re not letting go on this. We’re going to get to the truth. We’ve got to make sure that this classified information isn’t able to walk out the door. Remember, there are two email systems at the State Department. You don’t just simply get a classified email and then whoops, I forwarded to the wrong person. You have to go to great lengths to take it off that system, or summarize what you saw, and put it on the non-classified system. So how Sidney Blumenthal and others are integrated into this really still, we need to get to the truth.
HH: Well, in this three paragraphs on Blumenthal, it says that he sent 24 memos to the Secretary of State, many of which contained classified information which he obtained, as he told the FBI, from a number of different sources, including former United States intelligence community employees and contacts, as well as contacts within foreign governments. I would like for him to testify on the record. He cannot be having classified information. I don’t know if he violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t know that he has any evidence that there is. But I would certainly want him on the record, and so the American people can see he should never be near a government agency again. And yet, he’ll be the first person that Hillary Clinton would bring into her White House.
JC: And this is precisely one of the smart things that actually came out of the White House. Barack Obama and his White House team said absolutely not, you cannot have Sidney Blumenthal anywhere near. You can’t put him on the payroll. And so what did Hillary Clinton do? She thumbed her nose and just put him on the Clinton Foundation payroll, and was a very active contributor back and forth, an advisor which she bristles at, communicating. And the way he represented himself, the access to information, was he given improper information? All legitimate questions that need to still be answered.
HH: Different area, Chairman Chaffetz, is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. One Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian billionaire, was treated to many visits by Bill Clinton to his projects. I believe that’s a thing of value under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and he is a government official under its definition, because if nothing else, he was the ambassador of St. Lucia to the Vatican. But there’s a lot of shady stuff going on here. Does the FCPA fall under the purview of your committee?
JC: We can investigate anything at any time. And this is still a very open question. When I asked the FBI director are you or are you not investigating the Clinton Foundation and its ties, he said he could neither confirm nor deny. So I don’t know the answer to that question specifically, but it’s something we can and have been looking at very specifically.
HH: So run down, if you will, Mr. Chairman, which hearings are coming up. And I gather there are a couple you can’t tell me about that will be coming as well.
JC: Two letters out today, and you’ll see those a little bit later. Thursday, a hearing with the undersecretary for management, Mr. Kennedy, who will come and testify along with a host of others about how did they snooker the American public for years in filling these FOIA requests and the media, and what are they going to do to clean it up, followed by next Monday, if need be, because right now, you’ve got people that are refusing to come and talk to us. So we’re going to have to put out a hearing on why are so many of these things classified? Why not release all of the unclassified stuff? Why aren’t all the 302’s made public? They’re unclassified.
HH: Do you have, you have subpoena power, do you not?
JC: I do.
HH: Will you use it to gather people like Mr. Blumenthal, who ought to tell their stories in public to the American people?
JC: I am not going to be bashful in using it. I’ve tried to bend over backwards to give people a fair, honest chance. But if not, we’re going to start issuing subpoenas, absolutely.
HH: And will this go through right up to the election? I don’t know how long the House is going to be in session. When do you break before the election?
JC: Well, look, even though we may not be in session doesn’t mean we can’t compel people to come in for a deposition or to provide documents and what not. So Hillary Clinton chose this timeline, not me. She decided to hold this information for years. And, but now that the FBI has concluded their portion, and by the way, the FBI did not, has not looked at her testimony before Congress, has not looked at other things that she did potentially with the destruction of documents. So that will continue, and we’re going to go full steam ahead.
HH: Do you expect, last question, do you expect to have a hearing on whether or not obstruction of justice occurred here and bring back Director Comey?
JC: I think that, well, Director Comey is coming, I believe, next week in the Judiciary Committee. Myself, Trey Gowdy, a number of us, Jim Jordan, are on Oversight, but we’re also on Judiciary, so Mr. Comey is already scheduled, I believe, for next week.
HH: Can you get a question in on a Blackberry backups? I’d love to know where those are.
JC: (laughing) Oh, my gosh, we’ve got hours’ worth of questions, so I hope so.
HH: Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, thanks for spending some time on your first day back in D.C. I appreciate it so much. It’s early, and I appreciate it when Chairman Chaffetz and people like that come on to make news on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.