A top former State Department official is charging that senior aides convened an after-hours Foggy Bottom operation to sift through Benghazi-related documents and separate out those that might be damaging to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The documents were supposed to be turned over the the Accountability Review Board, an internal State Department probe that has been criticized for not addressing the potential culpability in the Benghazi matter of Clinton or President Obama.
Sharyl Attkisson broke the story in The Daily Signal:
According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.
At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe . . .
When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.
“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,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”
A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.
Maxwell said he has spoken to House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who sits on the House Oversight Committee.
Maxwell does have an axe to grind. He said he was “scapegoated” by the State Department when he was implicated in security lapses that led up to the attacks. He was later cleared. But as a veteran, senior State Department official, he also is a credible witness.
No doubt there will be subpoenas flying toward any others who might have been in the room.
And let’s all be thankful Attkisson has been freed from her former overlords at CBS and can continue her aggressive coverage of the administration’s scandals.