Time for Trey Gowdy to subpoena Sidney Blumenthal's emails

The key to unraveling Hillary Clinton’s private email system may well be found on the hard drive (if it still exists) of Sidney Blumenthal, longtime Clinton family consigliere. If not, his email provider can be subpoened. Writing in the Washington Times, Monica Crowley, a former post-presidency aide to Richard Nixon, outlines a plausible theory of why Hillary went to the trouble and expense of setting-up her private email server.

No it wasn’t so she didn’t have to require an aide to schlep a second device (a lie nobody believes), and according to this theory, it wasn’t even to keep her emails out of congressional oversight, as James Carville said last weekend. It was, in this theory, because Hillary was running her own “rogue intell operation” and wanted to keep it secret from her boss, the President of the United States and the intelligence establishment.

Mr. Blumenthal is the Clintons’ longtime and fiercely loyal political hit man. He orchestrated many of the sleaziest attacks on Clinton opponents, including smearing Monica Lewinsky as a “stalker” at Mrs. Clinton’s request. His mastery of the dark arts was so notorious that it may have been the reason Mr. Obama pointedly denied Mrs. Clinton’s request to appoint him to a special, official role in her State Department.

But Mrs. Clinton has never been one to take “no” for an answer. It now appears that despite Mr. Obama’s order, Mr. Blumenthal may have still served Mrs. Clinton’s political and policy needs, but in a shadowy, non-official capacity.

We already know that Hillary was discussing sensitive intelligence issues with Blumenthal thanks to publication of hacked emails:

Mr. Blumenthal apparently sent numerous emails to Mrs. Clinton immediately after the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012. Those emails were hacked allegedly by the hacker Guccifer (whom some claim is actually Romanian intelligence) in March 2013.

Guccifer released a screenshot of what it claimed is Mrs. Clinton’s private email inbox, chock-full of emails from Mr. Blumenthal to her hdr22@clintonemail.com address. The website Gawker then published the screenshot, complete with subject lines and dates of the Blumenthal emails. Gawker noticed that Mrs. Clinton was using a private account and alerted the State Department.

Interestingly, given concerns about the vulnerability of her server, The Russian Times then published four lengthy emails from Mr. Blumenthal to Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps they are neither real nor accurate, but they should be investigated.

In the form of a number of questions, Crowley raises the possibility that Hillary was running her own back-channel operation, away from the eyes and ears of the State Department and executive branch:

Was the real reason Mrs. Clinton created a private communications system because she planned to run her own intelligence operation via Mr. Blumenthal, away from the prying eyes of the president, his White House, the intelligence and diplomatic communities, Congress, the press and the American people?

Was she essentially freelancing some national security policy, operating outside normal channels?

Did she set up this private system because she didn’t trust the Obama team to provide the intelligence that she needed or wanted?

Further, was it arranged so she could run her own intelligence operations? After Benghazi, it was reported that she had been so obsessed with overthrowing Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi that Mr. Obama simply gave her the Libya portfolio. Her role in the result — Gadhafi’s assassination and the subsequent Islamist-induced chaos, leading to the Benghazi attack — would likely be something she’d want under her control. And if it proves true that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was overseeing a covert gunrunning operation from Benghazi to Syrian rebels on Mrs. Clinton’s watch, wouldn’t she want to keep that under her control, too?

The Russian “reset” was also her portfolio. Was Mr. Blumenthal running secret back channels with Moscow for her? And with Tehran over the nuclear negotiations?

This is, to be sure, speculative. But it also fits what we know so far about the contents of her emails as exposed by Guccifer, and what we can observe about the handling of Benghazi and Russia.

Crowley raises the vey interesting question of who paid Sidney Blumenthal. Could it have been the Clinton Foundation, which has received so much funding from such public-spirited entities as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and a highly connected Chinese construction company? No matter who was paying him, Blumenthal cannot claim executive privilege. And if he has destroyed his hard drive, questions must be asked under oath about whom he discussed that with.

The relationship between the Clinton and Obama factions of the Democratic Party seems to have led to a hall of mirrors situation in the conduct of our foreign policy. This is as far from what our founders intended as could be imagined.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman