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FOIA News: Hillary Clinton vs. FOIA

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Hillary Clinton vs. FOIA

By Kimberly A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 25, 2015

Of all the Clinton email revelations this week, none compared with a filing by the State Department in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court in Washington on Monday. The filing was a response to a FOIA lawsuit brought in March by conservative organization Citizens United. The group demanded documents from Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state related to the Clinton Foundation and to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. What the State Department revealed was a testament to the power of FOIA.

Congressional investigators can subpoena documents, but even if after long delays they get them, the investigators must trust that the agency handed over everything. The agency usually doesn’t. Under FOIA, by contrast, the agency is required by law to provide plaintiffs with a complete inventory and broad description of every document it has that pertains to the request—but is withholding. This is known as a Vaughn index. The State Department on Monday handed over its Vaughn index to Citizens United and, boy, are these email descriptions revealing.

We find that the State Department has—but is not releasing—an email chain between then-Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and a Clinton Foundation board member about the secretary of state’s planned trip to Africa. We find that the State Department has—but is not releasing—emails between Ms. Mills and foundation staff discussing “invitations to foreign business executives to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.” We find many undisclosed email chains in which State Department officials talk with Clinton Foundation officials about Bill Clinton speeches and Bill Clinton travel, including to events in North Korea and Congo.

Read more here.