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State Department Tag

UPDATE: The State Department has filed a Motion to Stay the Judicial Watch case seeking information regarding Huma Abedin's non-State Department employment, including emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton. The full motion is at the bottom of this post. ORIGINAL: The State Department just filed a motion in federal court seeking a "coordinating judge" for various FOIA cases seeking records of Hillary Clinton's emails, among other things. (Full embed at end of post.)
The United States Department of State (“State”), defendant in numerous Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) cases in this district in which the emails of certain former officials are at issue, hereby requests the designation of a coordinating judge to allow the orderly and efficient resolution of common questions of law, fact, and procedure in those cases, pursuant to Local Civil Rules 40.5(e) and 40.6(a).
While seemingly innocuous and purporting to want to streamline court cases, the State Department indicated that it intends to seek a stay of current court cases until the motion is determined:

Yesterday, the Judge in the Judicial Watch FOIA case involving Huma Abedin's outside employment ordered an expedited hearing on Judicial Watch's request to take discovery as to, among other things, Hillary's electronic devices and server. While Judicial Watch did not specify the discovery it wanted, that logically could include the sworn deposition testimony of Hillary as to her electronic devices and server, as well as that of her attorney David Kendall, who maintained custody of electronic records. On Judicial Watchs request, the Judge moved the hearing up from September 10 to August 20. The State Department then filed a motion Motion for Extension of Time seeking to delay the hearing until August 27, because two of its key people were on vacation.
As grounds for this request, defendant states that the two DOJ supervisors who are responsible for this case and related FOIA cases are currently on vacation, and that the additional time is required for defendant to respond to the August 17 Order.
(Full embed at bottom of post) The Judge quickly rejected the request to delay the hearing, even before Judicial Watch had a chance to file a written opposition:
MINUTE ORDER denying [28] Defendant's Opposed Motion for an Extension of Time. However, due to the Court's calendar, the status hearing will take place at 1:00 p.m. on August 20, 2015 in Courtroom 24A, rather than 12:00 p.m. as originally scheduled. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on August 18, 2015. (lcegs4) Modified on 8/18/2015 (ztcr).
UPDATE: Via Byron York, Hillary in a speech today in Nevada says she was the one to make the decision as to what was and was not work related. So she just made herself the key person to testify on the subject:

We noted in a post yesterday that the federal court, in the Judicial Watch FOIA case involving records relating to Huma Abedin's outside employment. had ordered to Department of State to make a supplemental filing today as to efforts to search the server turned over by Hillary to the Department of Justice. The State Department just filed an August 14, 2015 Status Report (full embed at bottom of post), in which it states that it is not even attempting to search the server. The reason is that the server is not under State Dept. control, and it does not feel legally obligated to try to search a server in the possession of another agency. In addition, the State Dept. says that is it relying on Hillary's declaration under penalty of perjury that all documents which are or potentially are federal records already have been produced by Hillary's attorneys. This makes Hillary's sworn declaration all the more central. As we documented last night, there are gaps in the explanation given by Hillary and her attorney's as to the server, including searches. James F. Peterson, a Senior Attorney at Judicial Watch,* provided the following statement:
“The State Department again has ignored a court order to provide any additional details about the missing emails of Secretary Clinton and her staff. Additional court-ordered steps to discover this information plainly are now required.”

The US State Department has problems. Whether we're talking about major, deadly problems like the Benghazi scandal, or their mere inability to keep it together for a press conference, you can always count on State to show time and again what it means to achieve mediocrity at the highest levels. There's mediocrity, though, and then there's plain disregard for the welfare of the human race. Every year, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) puts out a report publicly shaming the worst offenders in human trafficking. The results are no small deal; it may flow from a US agency, but the report is used worldwide as other governments and organizations attempt to balance their interests with the overall goal of improving human rights and putting an end to human trafficking. Correction---we say we have that goal. An independent investigation by Reuters has revealed that this year's J/TIP report was willfully manipulated by diplomatic officials to better address the current geopolitical climate.

Huma Abedin is widely known as one of Hillary Clinton's most trusted aides and advisers. She's also known for keeping a low public profile and for being the wife of Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger. According to a new report by Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post, Ms. Abedin is now going to be the subject of another scandal for Mrs. Clinton's campaign:
Top Clinton aide accused of receiving overpayments at State Department State Department investigators concluded this year that Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s closest aides, was overpaid by nearly $10,000 because of violations of rules governing vacation and sick leave during her tenure as an official in the department. The finding — which Abedin has formally contested — emerged publicly Friday after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and others seeking more information about an investigation into possible “criminal” conduct by Abedin concerning her pay.

Remember all the fanfare over Hillary Clinton releasing her emails and claiming that there wasn't any classified information in any of them? Hillary absolutely denied ever sending classified material during her UN press conference:
QUESTION: Were you ever -- were you ever specifically briefed on the security implications of using -- using your own email server and using your personal address to email with the president? CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material. So I'm certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material. At the time, Professor Jacobson expressed skepticism about Hillary's claims:

Yesterday, President Obama stood in front of an international press pool and admitted that "we don't yet have a complete strategy" to defeat ISIS. It was a great moment for American foreign relations. After that disastrous press conference, officials from the Administration slid into a slow meltdown, walking back Obama's painfully telling comments with explanations of what he really meant. From last night, via Mediaite:
State Department spokesman John Kirby was on CNN earlier tonight, speaking with Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer brought up the remark and asked, “What’s taking so long?” This was Kirby’s response:
“What the president was referring to was that the training and equipment strategy that we have been executing isn’t complete yet because there still have to be commitments from the Iraqi side. You need trainees, you need more trainees, and we’re working with them on that.”
But he pointed out the U.S. has already been training and equipped plenty of Iraqi forces already.
You can watch the segment here.

An explosive new report from David Sirota and Andrew Perez of the International Business Times suggests that preferential treatment in weapon sales was given to Clinton Foundation donors while Hillary Clinton was serving in the state department:
Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton's State Department In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing -- the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 -- contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release. The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire, an International Business Times investigation has found.

Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the May 29 inauguration of Nigerian President Elect Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja next week. Buhari stands to replace Goodluck Jonathan, and will take his place in the history books as the first challenger to ever oust an incumbent president in a Nigerian election. Unlike Kerry's recent visit to Somalia, this visit will not be unprecedented. Before January's elections, Kerry visited the country and warned officials that their future relationship with the US depended upon the completion of a successful election. (One could make a fair argument that the elections weren't completely successful---many Nigerian polling places---especially those in the conflict-torn northeastern states---played host to violence and intimidation tactics, and prevented a solid majority of the population from casting a vote.) Kerry's visit is likely to constitute more than just a celebration of a new regime, however. Nigeria is Africa's largest economy, and most successful oil producer, but their first quarter returns reflect the nervousness of their investors, and suggest trouble for the economy:

The Clintons and their defenders are trying to ignore the fact that Hillary used a private email server during her time at the State Department but despite their best efforts, the scandal isn't going away. Josh Gerstein of Politico:
State Dept. official: Hillary Clinton’s email practices ‘not acceptable’ A senior State Department official testifying at the first congressional hearing focusing on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account for official business called such an arrangement “not acceptable” and said other employees have been warned against it. “I think that the action we’ve taken in the course of recovering these emails have made it very clear what people’s responsibilities are with respect to recordkeeping,” Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think the message is loud and clear that that is not acceptable.”
Some people in the media are beginning to realize that the Clintons have a transparency problem and that it's impossible to prove their guilt or innocence without the thousands of emails Hillary decided to delete. Meet Jonah Goldberg, political psychic:

It's not just those lunchtime margaritas messing with your brain---John Kerry finally did something productive. John Kerry went to Somalia. He's the first U.S. Secretary of State ever to do it, and the most senior U.S. official to make the journey since President George H.W. Bush went in 1992 as part of a massive humanitarian operation. The country---and especially the capital of Mogadishu---is so unstable that Kerry was unable to leave the heavily-fortified airport. He met there with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and other civil leaders, and released a video message to civilians discussing the importance of reclaiming a functioning government. From NBC News:
Kerry was greeted upon arrival in Mogadishu by Somalia's President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who called the visit "a great moment" for his nation. "I'm glad to be here," Kerry said, asking if the president had spent a "long time" waiting for his arrival. "It's worth waiting," Mohamud replied. ... A senior State Department official said the "historic" visit would "send a strong signal" to the Somali people about U.S. commitment to the nation. "It will send a strong signal to al Shabab that we are not turning our backs on the Somali people and that we will continue to engage with Somalia until we bring al Shabab's terror to an end," the official said ahead of the visit.

A report released today by the International Business Times suggests the Clinton Foundation was indeed a thoroughfare for trading influence and political favors. Unless of course the timing was purely coincidental, IBT's report indicates the Clinton Foundation accepted money from a Colombian oil company while Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. After procuring the donation, Secretary Clinton then decided to support a Colombian trade agreement, though she'd vocally opposed it during the 2008 election cycle. The IBT report found:
For union organizers in Colombia, the dangers of their trade were intensifying. When workers at the country’s largest independent oil company staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened violence if they failed to disband, according to human rights organizations. Similar intimidation tactics against the workers, say labor leaders, amounted to an everyday feature of life. ...Yet as union leaders and human rights activists conveyed these harrowing reports of violence to then-Secretary of State Clinton in late 2011, urging her to pressure the Colombian government to protect labor organizers, she responded first with silence, these organizers say. The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers. At the same time that Clinton's State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.

The State Department stepped in it. Again. Now infamous for her dippy soundbites, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf might have topped her "ISIS just needs jobs" gaffe today. Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, both former Secretaries of State, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Brutally critical of the administration's much touted Iran deal, the op-ed focused on the White House's dismissive attitude towards the danger Iran poses. Kissinger and Shultz were less than impressed by the administration's insistence on the necessity of a deal with a country whose priorities aren't remotely in the same galaxy as those of the United States, noting:
Cooperation is not an exercise in good feeling; it presupposes congruent definitions of stability. There exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives. Iran’s representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.
In sum, the op-ed eloquently observes the Iran deal is a complete and total cluster. At a press conference held earlier today, Marie Harf was in no mood to discuss the WSJ lashing. Flustered, Harf attempted to avoid questions on the WSJ op-ed, but Associated Press reporter Matt Lee persisted. "I read it and it's far from nuanced. It's pretty damning," Lee says. "You just reject it outright? They say this is a recipe for disaster basically, but you say, no, clearly, you wouldn't be pursuing something you thought was a recipe for disaster. Is that correct?" Lee reads a few lines of the piece, and lobs them back to Harf.

One has to ask, what exactly is going on at the US State Department? We have been following the deterioration of Yemen for months. Despite the obvious dangers to American citizens within this country, I guess our bureaucrats decided they really didn't need an evacuation plan. Fortunately, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government seem to be more on top of the situation.
The US, besides economically developed France, Germany and Sweden, besides 22 nations have sought India's assistance to evacuate its citizens from violence hit Yemen. An US government travel advisory for Yemen pointed out that India would offer its assistance to evacuate American citizens from Sanna to Djibouti. The US citizens have been advised to contact Indian diplomats in Embassy at Sanna for assistance for evacuation either by boat or air. This is significant considering the fact that the US has strong naval presence as well as deployment of its Air Force in West Asia. France also has presence of its Navy in the region to counter piracy. ​

You may recall Hillary claiming she only used one device during her tenure as Secretary of State for "convenience." You may also recall how her once device claim was instantly proven questionable when a video surfaced of her stating otherwise. The day following Hillary's press conference, the Associated Press filed suit against the State Department over the embattled former Secretary's emails after repeated attempts to access records were fruitless. Fast forward several weeks into EmailGate. Today, the AP reports Clinton was using an iPad while serving as Secretary of State, placing Clinton's initial one device claim squarely in the Big Fat Lie category. But it gets better. Evidently, Clinton managed to serve as the Secretary of State and only send four emails containing the word 'drone.' Ever. Or at least that's what the State Department is saying:
The State Department says it can find only four emails sent between former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff concerning drone strikes and certain U.S. surveillance programs, and those notes have little to do with either subject. She asks for a phone call in one, a phone number in another. She seeks advice on how best to condemn information leaks, and accidentally replies to one work email with questions apparently about decorations.

While writers like Ben White are encouraging Hillary to kickstart her 2016 bid immediately, the House Select Committee on Benghazi is still looking for answers. Today, Gowdy sent a letter to Hillary Clinton's counsel confirming the extension of subpoena deadline to March 27, and formally requesting the former Secretary of State surrender her email servers to a mutually agreed upon third party for forensic examination. Gowdy explained Hillary's unusual and likely unprecedented email arrangement, an arrangement that made her the sole arbiter of relevant documentation. Making note that Mrs. Clinton deleted emails, Gowdy wrote, "the deletion of emails is not normal practice once any investigation, let alone litigation, commences. The fact that she apparently deleted some emails after Congress initially requested documents raises serious concerns." The House of Representatives issued the following statement this afternoon:
Washington, DC-- Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy today sent a letter requesting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turn over the server she used for official State Department business to the State Department inspector general or a neutral third party for independent analysis of what records should be in the public domain. “Though Secretary Clinton alone is responsible for causing this issue, she alone does not get to determine its outcome,” said Gowdy, R-S.C. “That is why in the interest of transparency for the American people, I am formally requesting she turn the server over to the State Department’s inspector general or a mutually agreeable third party. “An independent analysis of the private server Secretary Clinton used for the official conduct of U.S. government business is the best way to remove politics and personal consideration from the equation. Having a neutral, third-party arbiter such as the State Department IG do a forensic analysis and document review is an eminently fair and reasonable means to determine what should be made public.

Whew, boy. It is not looking pretty. There are several developments on both fronts -- the email scandal, and the Clinton Foundation foreign government sugar daddy scandal. But we'll start with the email.

1. No one read Hillary's emails before they were presumably destroyed

This excerpt comes from a long piece in TIME:
“For more than a year after she left office in 2013, she did not transfer work-related email from her private account to the State Department. She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department–spurred by the congressional investigation–asked her to do so. And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache–31,830 emails–did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be ‘private, personal records.’”
And to make matters worse:

2. Hillary won't confirm she signed mandatory form indicating she'd turned over all classified documents (including emails) to the State Department

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