Much of Thursday’s House committee hearing, which probed the events leading up to an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, focused on Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and “fixer” of the Clintons. Several GOP committee members pointed out how she prioritized Blumenthal’s correspondence over that from Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, who didn’t even have Clinton’s email address.
So we learned that Clinton never directly corresponded via email with Stevens, who requested armed reinforcements multiple times just before he was killed in the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Hillary did, however, regularly correspond with Blementhal about affairs in Libya.
Why is this important?
Remember: Blumenthal didn’t work for the State Department. In fact, he was persona non grata in the White House. Clinton wanted to hire him, but President Obama refused to allow him to serve under his administration. That didn’t stop her from communicating with him about how things were going in war-torn Libya. Coincidentally, (or not-so-coincidentally) Blumenthal was working as an adviser to a shady business venture that sought to work with Libyan rebels. But more on that later.
He also sent her numerous private intelligence reports on the situation in Libya. She would then forward these reports to the White House — after deleting his name from the emails, of course.
“He was a friend who sent me information that he thought might be in some way helpful,” Clinton said on Thursday about the document swapping she did with Blumenthal. But the email correspondence between the two — and financial records indicate — that he was more than just a friend.
Let’s review the four times when their relationship got weird:
1. Blumenthal Asked For Too Many Favors
Blumenthal had invested in Osprey Global Solutions, a military contractor that wanted to do business with the Libyan rebels. While this was going down, he pushed Clinton, who was serving as Secretary of State at the time, to support business relations between western military contractors and Libyan rebels. This kind of prompting, combined with his financial interests, seems to be on the illegal side of things, according to National Review. A cynic might even characterize Blumenthal’s efforts as blatant war-profiteering.
2. He Was Getting Paid To Be Their Friend
The Clinton Foundation hired Blumenthal in 2009, despite grumblings from other employees that he only got the job because he was a friend of the Clintons. He was getting paid $10,000 a month while handling the business venture in Libya and urging Clinton to help him out with it in her role as America’s most powerful diplomat.
3. He Advised Her, A Lot
When the use of torture overseas became a hot topic in the media during Clinton’s first year as secretary, Blumenthal was quick to advise her to keep quiet.
“Jane Mayer’s piece details the many moving and uncontrolled parts of the torture debate, which has become chronic and will flare up again and again. The ‘distraction’ will not go away. I would avoid ever being drawn into commenting on any aspect.”
This kind of advice and media finagling was evidently a regular thing he chatted about with Clinton. He sent her numerous emails claiming credit for manipulating the media into covering news a certain way that was favorable to Clinton. This sort of odd advice mixed with humblebrags is par for the course between these two, at least according to her emails.
And let’s not forget those late-night phone chats.
In the initial batch of Clinton’s emails that were made public, there was one that alludes to the kind of friendship they had:
To: Sidney Blumenthal
Date: Oct. 8, 2009; 10:35 p.m.
Subject: Are you still awake?
Body: I’ll call if you are
Translation: “Are you still awake, Friend? Can we talk?? Please?!”
4. Clinton Paid More Attention To Sid’s Emails Than the Safety of Americans
Clinton apparently cared more about Dear Old Sid’s emails than she did the safety of her diplomats. As Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) pointed out during the third round of Thursday’s committee hearing, she had asked Stevens to read and react to some of Blumenthal’s emails the same day she denied his request for more security at the Libyan embassy. Oh, and he asked for more security because the embassy suffered a bomb attack the day before.
So not only does it appear that Clinton dismissed the warning signs of a dangerous threat to American lives, but she also prioritized her friendship with Blumenthal over the safety concerns of Ambassador Stevens, who was serving under her.