Posted tagged ‘Cheryl Mills’

Why did the DOJ Back Cheryl Mills’ Specious Privilege Claims?

September 7, 2016

Why did the DOJ Back Cheryl Mills’ Specious Privilege Claims? Power LinePaul Mirengoff, September 6, 2016

(Please see also, The Curious Role Of Cheryl Mills As Both Witness and Lawyer In The FBI Investigation by Jonathan Turley, September 7th. — DM)

Shannen Coffin sees Cheryl’s Mill’s participation in Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview as “Exhibit A for those who wonder whether [the] interview was all for show.” Count me among those wondering, all the more so after reading Coffin’s piece.

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Coffin explains:

Mills was hip-deep in the events at the heart of the FBI’s criminal investigation and was herself a material witness who had previously sat for her own interview. Yet not only was she allowed by the Department of Justice to participate as counsel in Clinton’s interview, her communications with Clinton and other material witnesses also were actively protected by the Department of Justice throughout the criminal and civil investigations.

Typically, the DOJ would look askance where a material witness sought to act as a lawyer for the subject of a federal criminal investigation. In Mills’s case, Justice lawyers went out of their way to accommodate this highly unusual dual-hat role.

That Mills was involved in the events the FBI was investigating cannot be disputed. She was a regular correspondent with Clinton on the private email system and she testified as a fact witness about her personal knowledge of Clinton’s email setup in both the FBI investigation and related civil depositions.

Mills nonetheless purported to represent Clinton as her lawyer. However, as Coffin points, Mills was not a lawyer for Clinton during her tenure at the State Department. Although her title was “Chief of Staff and Counselor,” she has testified that the “counselor” position was “not a lawyer role”; it was a “policy role.”

Mills says she became Clinton’s lawyer after the Secretary of State stepped down in 2013. At that time, Clinton hired Mills as her personal lawyer to coordinate the response to State’s demand for return of her emails.

As such, Mills frequently invoked the attorney-client privilege to avoid answering questions about Clinton’s email setup. For example, when asked about the email setup and conversations she might have had with Clinton’s IT specialist, Bryan Pagliano, Mills refused to answer, claiming those conversations were privileged attorney-client communication.

The problem with this claim is that Mills’s knowledge of facts learned while serving in a non-legal capacity at the State Department cannot possibly be protected by an attorney-client privilege. How did Mills get around this? Coffin tells us:

To fix that problem, Mills conveniently claimed that she did not know anything about Clinton’s email setup during her tenure at the State Department and only learned of relevant facts in her later capacity as Mrs. Clinton’s personal lawyer.

But this raised a new problem — Mills quite obviously knew about Clinton’s email setup while she was at State:

Mills’s implausible claim she was unaware of the nature of Clinton’s email setup during her tenure at State is undermined by documents showing that Mills was deeply involved as chief of staff in resolving questions regarding Clinton’s email use.

A March 2009 memo addressed to Mills from the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, for instance, advised against Clinton and her staff using BlackBerry devices in the executive suite, known as “Mahogany Row,” because it was a secure area. Similarly, an August 2011 email chain addressed “communications issues” flagged by Mills, including a suggestion from State Department IT officials (later rejected by Huma Abedin) regarding the possibility of a State-issued BlackBerry for Clinton.

Mills also invoked the attorney-client privilege based on the claim that certain facts she became aware of as Clinton’s chief of staff were off-limits because she had “refreshed her recollection” as to those facts during her time representing Clinton in the private sector. But, as Coffin says, Mills could only “refresh” her recollection because she had knowledge of those facts during her tenure as Clinton’s chief of staff, putting those facts well beyond the protection of any privilege.

How did Mills get away with her specious attorney-client privilege claims? How, for that matter, did she get away with serving as Clinton’s lawyer on matters being criminally investigated that she participated in as a federal employee?

Easy. The Obama Justice Department didn’t object.

Worse, the DOJ actively supported Mills’ claims when the FBI tested them:

The Washington Post reported that when the FBI interviewers broached the question in her May interview of how the email server was set up, Mills and her lawyer walked out. Clinton and her lawyers had demanded that that topic be off-limits to the FBI because of Mills’s more recent role as Clinton’s lawyer. The Justice Department apparently agreed. Department lawyers were reportedly taken aback that their FBI colleague had ventured beyond what was anticipated.

The DOJ also backed Mills’ legal position during her civil deposition:

On two occasions in that deposition, a lawyer from the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, which represents the State Department in the FOIA cases, invoked Mrs. Clinton’s personal attorney-client privilege to object to questions about Mills’s knowledge of the email setup. When Mills was asked what Pagliano had told her about the setup of the server, a Department of Justice lawyer objected that those conversations had taken place “during the time that [Mills] was representing Secretary Clinton.”

If such a privilege existed, it certainly was not the place of the Department of Justice to invoke it to protect Mills from testifying.

Thus, Coffin concludes:

On one hand, DOJ was purportedly investigating Clinton, and perhaps even Mills, for the mishandling of government information, including over 2,000 classified emails. On the other, the same Department of Justice was shielding Mills from accounting for her role in the email scandal.

Is it any wonder that the FBI and Department of Justice came to the conclusion that they did?

No. Not really.

Hillary Appointed Clinton Foundation Donor, Financial Bundler to Sensitive Intel Post

June 12, 2016

Hillary Appointed Clinton Foundation Donor, Financial Bundler to Sensitive Intel Post

by Aaron Klein

11 Jun 2016

Source: Hillary Appointed Clinton Foundation Donor, Financial Bundler to Sensitive Intel Post – Breitbart

Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

Hillary Clinton is facing controversy over the appointment to a sensitive State Department intelligence advisory board of a Clinton Foundation donor who also served as a financial bundler for Clinton’s campaigns.

Businessman Rajiv K. Fernando seems to have no obvious qualification to serve on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), which, according to its charter, provides the State Department with “independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy.”

Fernando’s position on the board came with top secret security clearance and provided him with access to highly sensitive U.S. government information.

Emails obtained by the conservative Citizens United group under a Freedom of Information Act show that after ABC News sent inquiries on the matter, Clinton’s staff worked to “protect the name” of Clinton, and “stall” the news network in its reportage on the matter. Days later, Fernando resigned from the board, claiming he did not have any more time to spare due to work constraints.

Following requests for comment on his July 2011 appointment, State Department official Jamie Mannina sent an August 15, 2011 email expressing concern about the issue. “We must protect the secretary’s and under secretary’s name, as well as the integrity of the board. I think it’s important to get down to the bottom of this before there’s any response,” he wrote, in the email released by Citizens United.

An email response by Clinton aide Wade Boese reveals that Fernando was added to the board at Clinton’s insistence by Clinton’s then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

“The true answer is that S staff (Cheryl Mills) added him. The board’s membership preceded me. Raj was not on the list sent to S; he was added at their insistence,” Boese wrote. According to ABC News, “S” was commonly used to refer to Clinton.

Another telling email was sent in response to an ABC News inquiry regarding another board appointee, Rep. Harold P. Naughton, Jr.  ABC News reported:

Boese wrote to Hartman to say the department would have a far easier time explaining Naughton’s credentials. “The case for Rep. Naughton is an easy one. We are on solid ground,” he said.

In 2011 and 2012, ABC News sought answers from Fernando himself:

Fernando himself would not answer questions from ABC News in 2011 about what qualified him for a seat on the board or led to his appointment. When ABC News finally caught up with Fernando at the 2012 Democratic convention, he became upset and said he was “not at liberty” to speak about it. Security threatened to have the ABC News reporter arrested.

Fernando’s expertise appeared to be in the arena of high-frequency trading — a form of computer-generated stock trading. At the time of his appointment, he headed a firm, Chopper Trading, that was a leader in that field.

Fernando is currently a superdelegate pledged to Clinton.  He is listed on the Clinton Foundation website as having given between $1 million and $5 million.

ABC News reports on Fernando’s longtime financial support to Clinton and Democrats:

He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for president, giving maximum contributions to her campaign, and to HillPAC, in 2007 and 2008. He also served as a fundraising bundler for Clinton, gathering more than $100,000 from others for her White House bid. After Barack Obama bested Clinton for the 2008 nomination, Fernando became a major fundraiser for the Obama campaign.

Prior to his State Department appointment, Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, WomenCount, that indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.

Fernando was also reportedly one of Obama’s top 2012 financial bundlers, raising at least $500,000 for Obama’s reelection bid.

In May 2015, Clinton attended a fundraiser at Fernando’s Chicago home.

Like Bill Clinton, Fernando’s father C K Fernando, was a Fulbright Scholar. C K Fernando founded an NGO that first received recognition from the Bill Clinton White House.  C K Fernando served as chairman of Sri Lankan Americans for President Obama in 2009.

Fernando’s name, meanwhile, does not appear on the State Department’s list of former ISAB board members.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who served on the ISAB board from 2006 to 2009, elaborated on the seriousness of the information to which board members were exposed.   “Most things that involve nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy are dealt with at a pretty sensitive basis — top secret,” he said, telling ABC News that the meetings take place in a secure facility.

With research by Brenda J. Elliott.