State Department is investigating Psaki deletion after all

Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller reports that the State Department is searching the emails of “four or five” individuals as part of an investigation into who ordered the deletion of a discussion between Jen Psaki and reporter James Rosen from the video of a Dec. 2, 2013 press briefing. In the deleted segment, Rosen inquired, “Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” Psaki responded, “James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”

The “this” referred to was secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Iranian regime in 2011. The deleted excerpt was important, and therefore deleted, because it amounted to admissions that (1) contrary to what Team Obama was saying, its negotiations with Iran predated the election of a so-called moderate president and (2) the administration is willing to lie.

Initially, the State Department claimed the deletion was the product of a technical glitch. Later, current spokesman John Kirby admitted that the deletion was at someone’s direction. However, Kirby said the person who received the direction couldn’t remember who gave it, and that there would be no further investigation.

But now there is one. Deputy spokesman Mark Toner says that emails and other records of officials who “might have been aware of what was happening or of what happened” will be examined during the course of the State Department office of the legal adviser’s probe into the excising of the video. That cohort includes the “spokesperson, deputy spokesperson, assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries at the time who would have had purview over the video,” according to Toner.

Psaki was the spokesperson at the time of the excision. Marie Harf was the deputy. Both have denied ordering that the video be edited. If their denials hold up, that seemingly will leave two or three assistant secretaries and/or deputy secretaries as prime suspects.

The problem is that the order to delete may not be reflected in any document. The woman who received the order apparently says that it came in a phone call. The State Department says that the relevant telephone records have been long deleted.

Thus, the investigation may well end up at a “dead end,” the term Kirby used to describe its status at the outset. It may be that the State Department is pretty sure its investigators won’t turn up relevant emails and is simply going through the motions because of the heat it took from reporters when Kirby said there would be no further investigation.