Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received monthly missives about the growing unrest in Libya from a longtime friend who was previously barred by the White House from working for her as a government employee, according to emails received on her personal account.
The messages show the role played by Sidney Blumenthal, who was working for the Clinton family foundation and advising a group of entrepreneurs trying to win business from the Libyan transitional government. Blumenthal repeatedly wrote dispatches about the events in Libya to Clinton, who often forwarded them to her aides at the State Department.
Clinton’s earlier efforts to hire Blumenthal, who has spent nearly two decades working for the Clinton family, as a State Department employee had been rejected by Obama administration officials who said they feared his role spreading harsh attacks against Obama in the 2008 presidential primaries would cause discomfort among members of their new White House team.
Clinton is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, which has heightened the scrutiny of her use of a private email account and server while serving as secretary of state.
Blumenthal’s continued role was revealed in nearly 350 pages of emails, published Thursday by The New York Times, about the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Last year, Clinton gave the State Department 55,000 pages of emails that she said pertained to her work as secretary sent from the personal address she used while at the agency. The messages about the events in Libya were given for review to a special House panel investigating the attacks. They are expected to be released by the State Department in the coming days after months of delay.
The panel, which was initially formed to investigate Stevens’ death, has become a vehicle to broadly question Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, revealing potential ammunition for Republican attacks on the 2016 campaign trail. This week, the panel subpoenaed Blumenthal to testify on Capitol Hill.
There is nothing in the emails to suggest that Clinton was actively soliciting Blumenthal’s advice or alleged intelligence information, although the documents contain few replies she may have sent to him. Her responses are polite, in one case thanking him for “useful” information.