The White House under Barack Obama had tracked a December 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email exchange through unsecured devices, according to newly-obtained emails released by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch.
"A federal court granted Judicial Watch discovery on Clinton emails because the court wanted answers about the cover-up. And now we have answers because it looks like the Obama White House orchestrated the Clinton email cover-up", the watchdog's president, Tom Fitton, who suggested that Hillary Clinton had deliberately used a private email system to evade FOIA, tweeted on 10 May.
However, on 23 April 2019, Judicial Watch revealed that messages to and from Clinton's private email address had been found in the Obama White House, specifically the executive office of the president, which shows that the administration's high-level officials were aware about the then secretary of state's unsecured email server.
Earlier, on 7 January 2016, the State Department's inspector general reported that the department's response to the CREW's FIOA request was "inaccurate and incomplete".
On 20 December 2012, Sheryl Walter, the State Department official in charge of FOIA requests, asked State Department officials whether they had received a FOIA request from CREW "on the topic of personal use of email by senior officials". "Apparently other agencies have. If we have it, can you give me the details so I can call the WH back? I think they'd like it on quick turnaround", Walter noted.
On the same day, Walter informed Heather Samuelson, Hillary Clinton's White House liaison, about the request, adding that "as a practical matter given our workload, it won't be processed for some months" and asked to let her know if there were "any particular sensitivities".
In a 10 January 2013 email to Samuelson, Walter asked whether she got "any intel [sic] re what other agencies are doing re this FOIA request that seeks records about the number of email accounts associated with the Secretary (but isn't specifying 'personal' email accounts so we are interpreting as official accounts only)".
Walter also asked whether the Clinton aide had "any-concerns about that approach".
'No Records Were Located'
A few months later, on 10 May 2013, the State Department's Information Programs and Services wrote to CREW, that "no records responsive to your request were located".
The Daily Caller shed light on why CREW did not file an appeal to the May 2013 FOIA denial and remained mute about the request: "That could be because the group came under the control of David Brock, a close Clinton ally, in 2014", the media outlet suggested.
Somehow, the CREW request issue surfaced yet again on 7 August 2013: "Did we respond to the CREW request yet?" Walter asked Obama administration officials, asking whether they had "a copy of all requests related to Secretary Clinton's emails".
"I don't think we have any litigation of this topic, do we?" she asked.
Geoffrey Hermesman, then a State Department program analyst, informed Walter that there had been 17 FOIA cases that contained Clinton in the subject and of these, "four specifically mention[ed] emails or email accounts" with two of them being "open".
Hillary Clinton 'Does Not Use Email'
The newly released emails contain yet another peculiar detail: in a letter written on 30 January 2013 Tasha M. Thian, agency records officer, claimed that Secretary Clinton "does not use email" while "her staffers do". The notion is contradicted by an email exchange between Hillary Clinton using her firstname.lastname@example.org address and then Commander of United States Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, in 2009.
The collection also includes a 25 January 2013 memo saying that "departing officials are reminded they may not remove any materials from the Department until such materials have been reviewed by records officers to ensure compliance with federal records laws and regulations".
After repeated requests from Judicial Watch, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides, as well as E.W. Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, "to be deposed or answer written questions under oath", the conservative watchdog wrote in its press release. Earlier, the court called the Clinton email system "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency".