According to a retired high-level U.S. diplomat, top aides to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton concealed embarrassing documents from investigators probing the deadly Islamic-terror attack of September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. For longtime Clinton watchers, this story of sneaky staffers and stashed papers sounds like an episode of a 1990s teledrama called Whitewater.
Former deputy assistant secretary of state Raymond Maxwell says he learned about unusual activity in the State Department’s basement as the Accountability Review Board (ARB) sought official records pertinent to the Benghazi assault, which killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
“I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,” Maxwell told the Washington-based Daily Signal’s Sharyl Attkisson, an Emmy-winning former CBS News correspondent. Maxwell, a 21-year-veteran Foreign Service officer, says he encountered an office director who served Clinton’s leading advisers. She stood among cartons of documents and piles of papers.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” Maxwell told Attkisson. The secretary and top personnel occupy State’s seventh floor.
Maxwell asked his colleague, “‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’”
Maxwell says that Hillary’s then–chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and then–deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, also were in the basement, inspecting pre-attack diplomatic cables and other items and deciding what to show the ARB and what to spare them. Maxwell considered this “an exercise in misdirection.”
“The Clinton aides’ late-night basement document-sanitization-project is called, in common parlance, conspiracy and obstruction of justice,” says Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who represented the U.S. government in some 350 criminal cases. The author of Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice told me: “These revelations scream for a full congressional inquiry, and really — a grand-jury investigation — that now must include possible charges of criminal conduct by government officials and the involvement and knowledge of the Secretary herself.”
Powell added: “This conduct implicates crimes of conspiracy (18 U.S.C. Sections 371 and 1512) and witness tampering (which includes misleading conduct that causes someone to withhold a document from an official proceeding (18 U.S.C. Section 1512(a)(1)(c)). The penalties for these criminal offenses include terms of imprisonment for up to 20 years.”
“That allegation is totally without merit,” protested State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach. Nonetheless, Maxwell’s accusations are consistent with Hillary’s past.
“In 1988, Mrs. Clinton ordered the destruction of records relating to her representation of Mr. [Jim] McDougal’s Madison S&L,” states the 1996 Final Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation. “This was not a routine destruction of records. At the time, federal regulators were investigating the operation and solvency of Madison in anticipation of taking it over.”
“By July 1993, the Clintons and their associates had established a pattern of concealment with respect to the Clintons’ involvement with Whitewater and the Madison S&L,” the special congressional panel wrote. “At every important turn, crucial files and documents ‘disappeared’ or were withheld from scrutiny whenever questions were raised.”
On July 20, 1993, White House aide and Hillary’s former Rose Law Firm partner Vincent Foster was found fatally wounded, with a gun in his hand, at Washington’s Fort Marcy Park. Christopher Ruddy’s chilling book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, details this perplexing tragedy.
“Almost immediately after law enforcement officers left Mr. Foster’s office, Mr. [Bernard] Nussbaum went to work to conduct the real search in secret,” the Whitewater committee concluded. White House counsel Nussbaum and Hillary’s then chief of staff, Maggie Williams, reentered Foster’s office, without police supervision.
Associate counsel Clifford Sloan’s contemporaneous notes cite the Clintons’ initials: “get Maggie — go through office — get HRC, WJC stuff.”
“Ms. Williams and Mr. Nussbaum collected the files, including at least one marked Whitewater,” the special committee explained. “Ms. Williams saw a file marked ‘taxes,’ picked it up, and placed it among the materials to be removed from Mr. Foster’s office. . . . Ms. Williams then consulted with Mrs. Clinton, and transferred one or two boxes of documents to the White House Residence for further review by the President and Mrs. Clinton.”
That July 27, Robert Barnett, Esq., of Williams & Connolly LLP, visited the super-exclusive upstairs residence, accepted the documents swiped from Foster’s office, and swaddled them in a warm blanket of attorney-client privilege.
As for Raymond Maxwell, he says he is disappointed with Obama, although he previously supported him and even donated $750 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, as opensecrets.org confirms. Before retiring from State, Maxwell was placed on administrative leave after the Benghazi attack — without formal charges. Maxwell was cleared and reinstated.
While in limbo, Maxwell complained to a State Department ombudsman.
“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you,’” Maxwell told Sharyl Attkisson. He says the ombudsman continued, “‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016.’”
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.