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Clinton confidante at center of Benghazi damage-control tied to probe of suspected diplomat crimes
Mr. Hicks testified that other higher-ups at the department ordered him not to meet with Mr. Chaffetz during the visit, but he ignored them. At one point, he met with the congressman without a State Department attorney present because the lawyer did not have a high enough security clearance to attend the meeting. Afterward, the call came from Mrs. Mills, demanding “a report on the visit,” said Mr. Hicks, who added that Mrs. Mills “was upset” by the attorney’s absence.
Mr. Hicks suggested that the call was serious because it had come from an official so high in the State Department and so close to Mrs. Clinton. “A phone call from that senior of a person is, generally speaking, not considered to be good news,” he said.
The call may simply show how seriously Mrs. Clinton’s uppermost staff members took the task of ensuring that officials like Mr. Hicks had the necessary legal protections as the Benghazi scandal unfolded.
But the attention given to Mrs. Mills — along with Mr. Hicks’ comments about her call during a congressional hearing on Benghazi — has made the appearance of her name in the more recent internal OIG memo scandal all the more pertinent.
According the memo, Mrs. Mills may have similarly attempted to block an investigation last year into suspected misconduct by Brett McGurk, whom President Obama had nominated to become ambassador to Iraq.
The memo outlines how agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s special investigations division had opened an probe into Mr. McGurk, who was working at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad at the time, on suspicion that had been improperly emailing government information with his girlfriend, a Wall Street Journal reporter.
“Some of the information may have been cleared for release, but other information reportedly was not,” states the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times after it was first reported by CBS News.
Investigators “never interviewed McGurk, allegedly because Cheryl Mills from the Secretary's office interceded,” the memo states. “Email from Mills reportedly shows her agreeing to a particular course of action for the case, but then reneging and advising McGurk to withdraw his name from consideration for the ambassadorship.”
Mr. McGurk withdrew his name from consideration for the post last June.
His case is just one of eight outlined in the memo and appears to rank low in terms of the level of potential criminal behavior that was alleged.
State Department officials remained vague this week about details of any of the cases and refused to say whether any of them have been resolved during the inspector general’s ongoing investigations.
In one case, the memo states that an agent from the special investigations division had opened a probe into the activities of Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, and “determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.”
“The ambassador’s protective detail and the embassy’s surveillance detection team (staffed by host country nationals) were well aware of the behavior,” the memo states.
But as the agent “began to plan surveillance on the ambassador to obtain corroboration, the agent reportedly received notification that [Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick] Kennedy had directed [the Bureau of Diplomatic Security] to cease the investigation and have the agent return to Washington.”
Mr. Kennedy issued a statement Tuesday saying he has “never once interfered, nor would I condone interfering, in any investigation.”
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About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
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