In her weekly Wall Street Journal column Kim Strassel takes a look at what the Freedom of Information Act has helped to unearth in the litigation brought by Citizens United and others against the State Department. Courtesy of the Vaughn Index produced to justify the withholding of some emails by the State Department, Strassel gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the confluence of forces on Madam Hillary at work:
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.
Huma Abedin, a longtime confidante of Mrs. Clinton’s, was somehow allowed to work, simultaneously, at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and as a consultant to Teneo—a consulting firm run by Clinton loyalist Doug Band. All three of Ms. Abedin’s hats come into play in an undisclosed email exchange regarding a 2012 dinner in Ireland. As the Washington Examiner reported in May, Mrs. Clinton received an award at the dinner from a Clinton Foundation donor. The ceremony was promoted by Teneo. Mrs. Clinton attended in her official capacity as secretary of state. Sort through that.
We already know that the Clinton Foundation continued to take foreign money even while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. We now know this was only the start of the entwining. These email summaries show that the Clinton Foundation was the State Department and the State Department was the Clinton Foundation. All one, big, seamless, Clinton-promoting entity. We would know far more if State released the full emails. It is citing personal privacy as one reason not to make some public. In others, it claims the emails “shed no light on the conduct of U.S. Government business.”
Strassel has more, all of it worth reading, here.