Eight former aides declined to cooperate with the State IG; two others failed to respond to the IG’s requests.
When the State Department watchdog on May 25 released a damning report on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lapses in email management, the footnotes added a new wrinkle to the story that could force other shoes to drop in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“In addition to Secretary Clinton, eight former Department employees declined OIG requests for interviews,” Inspector General Steve Linick wrote after itemizing by title the dozens of current and former State employees who did cooperate with investigators in the highly scrutinized controversy. Two additional individuals did not respond to the IG’s requests.
Still unanswered is the question of which State Department specialists in information technology, records management and classification law OK’d the unusual arrangement. The IG found no evidence that Clinton had sought permission for the private server, though Clinton has repeatedly said that the arrangement “was permitted.”
As it happens, many of those who declined to talk to the IG have been or soon will be deposed by the FBI, which is probing possible mishandling of classified information at State, as well as lawyers for Judicial Watch, the conservative legal transparency group that has won rulings from two judges allowing interviews with Clinton associates.
Government Executive has assembled profiles of 12 current or former aides and associates with Clinton who have or will be interviewed. (Neither the IG staff nor State press officers would identify the individuals beyond their titles, but public records and Judicial Watch documents provide a solid selection.)
Judicial Watch takes credit for launching the Freedom of Information Act litigation last year that forced the State Department to confirm Clinton’s use of a private server. And it considers the State watchdog report “scathing” but built on many facts Judicial Watch already knew.
“The narrative that Mrs. Clinton would like you to believe is that she was not savvy about email and therefore this just happened,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Government Executive. “The counter-narrative is that she knew exactly what happened at State—she knew the law and her associates knew the law and sought to upend FOIA and the Federal Records Act.”
What, in Fitton’s view, would Clinton be trying to hide? “The emails already released are what they tried to hide”—the emails to her daughter, for example, Fitton said. “None were released voluntarily. We already know what they were hiding. The question is what [emails] have not been turned over yet and that State has not released.”
Here are the main players in the multiple investigations, and the status of their interviews:
Hillary Clinton, currently out on the campaign trail as primary season nears an end, declined to be interviewed by State Department IG staff. She has said repeatedly that she has not yet been interviewed by the FBI but is ready. Judicial Watch, meanwhile, maintains a plan to follow through on a judge’s assertion that Clinton might be interviewed in its FOIA litigation over whether the State Department did a thorough search for documents related to the 2012 deaths of four American officials in Benghazi, Libya. Justice Department lawyers last week challenged that request.
Cheryl Mills, an attorney and academic administrator who worked for the Clinton White House during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton, was counselor and chief of staff to Hillary Clinton during her four years as secretary of State. Mills, who also was counsel to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, was deposed on May 27 by a Judicial Watch attorney (see transcript). Very little thought was given to email issues during the 2009 transition to the State Department, she said, though the staff routinely complied with FOIA records requests handled by another office. Mills is also scheduled to testify in a case involving the “special government employee” status of Clinton deputy Huma Abedin.
Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff at State during the Clinton years, is a trusted personal aide who interned for then-First Lady Clinton in the 1990s. Her multiple roles on the Clinton campaigns, with the Clinton Foundation and State Department are under various reviews. Many of the Clinton emails released over the past year had her name in them. She has been interviewed by the FBI on email classification issues but declined to speak to the IG staff. She is scheduled to testify in the Judicial Watch proceedings on June 28.
Jake Sullivan was director of policy planning at State for much of Clinton’s tenure, having worked on her 2008 presidential campaign. He is reported to have authored many of the emails that the State Department has withheld for national security concerns. He previously was chief counsel and senior policy adviser to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. He left State in 2014 to teach at the Yale University Law School. He declined to speak to the IG staff and his interview status with the FBI is unclear.
Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of State for management since 2007, is a career Foreign Service officer. He remains responsible for the people, resources, budget, facilities, technology, financial operations, consular affairs, logistics, contracting and security for State operations, and is the secretary’s principal advisor on management issues. He played a major role in the controversy over U.S. consulate security during the Benghazi attack. Kennedy did cooperate with the State IG and is scheduled to testify to Judicial Watch on June 29.
Bryan Pagliano is an information technology specialist who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and was appointed to do IT at the State Department by Patrick Kennedy, according to a Reuters report. He is said to have set up the private server in Clinton’s New York home. He declined to testify before Congress on creation of the private email server and received an immunity grant from Justice. He declined to cooperate with State IG staff, but has been interviewed by the FBI. He is scheduled to testify to Judicial Watch June 6.
Stephen Mull, most recently the U.S. ambassador to Poland, was executive secretary of the State Department from 2010 to 2012. From 2008 to 2010, Mull served as senior advisor to then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns. He is scheduled to testify to Judicial Watch on June 6.
Lewis Lukens was executive director of State’s Executive Secretariat from 2008 to 2011, providing all logistical and travel support for Clinton and traveling with her frequently. He testified on May 18 to Judicial Watch’s attorney, saying he had been asked to arrange a way for incoming Secretary Clinton to access the Internet in her office—where her Blackberry was banned for security reasons—to check personal email. "The reason that I proposed a PC was that it would make it easier for her to log on,” Lukens said. That personal computer was never installed. “And at that point, as far as I knew, there was no requirement for her to be connected to our system.” More recently Lukens was ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, and is now a visiting diplomat at the University of California at Berkeley.
John Bentel was director of State’s Executive Secretariat’s Office of Information Resources Management before retiring in 2012. His possible role was singled out by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on May 26 after the State IG report came out for having warned Secretary Clinton that transparency laws would apply to any email arrangement. The IG said Bentel told concerned State Department staff “never to speak of Secretary Clinton’s personal email system again.” Bentel declined to speak to the IG staff or Grassley’s Judiciary Committee, but through his attorney, he said he learned of Clinton’s private server only later from the press. Bentel told the House Select Committee on Benghazi the same thing, Yahoo News reported.
Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of State for Management and Resources from 2011 to 2013, did not respond to interview requests from the State Department IG. He is now vice chairman at Morgan Stanley.
Clarence Finney, a current State Department deputy director of the Executive Secretariat staff, is a records management official. He has been requested to testify by Judicial Watch.
Lauren Jiloty, a former special assistant to Clinton, worked on Clinton’s Senate staff and previously on that of Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla. According to LinkedIn, she now works as senior executive assistant at bgC3, LLC, a think tank founded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Judicial Watch has requested her testimony.
Monica Hanley was a Clinton aide at State from 2009 to 2013 who appears in the released Clinton emails as helping Clinton with the times of her favorite TV shows and striving to ease Clinton’s “confusion” about organizing phone calls. She previously worked for Clinton’s Senate office and became Clinton’s transition personnel office director, according to The Daily Caller.
This is only a partial list. Judicial Watch also plans to hear testimony on June 8 from unnamed specialty witnesses who will be selected by the State Department.
(Photos of Cheryl Mills via Susan Walsh/AP, Patrick Kennedy via the State Department, Jake Sullivan via Cliff Owen/AP, Huma Abedin via Seth Wenig/AP, Bryan Pagliano via Cliff Owen/AP, and Lewis Lukens via Harry Hamburg/AP)