State Dept. scrambled to send senators classified Russia documents hours before inauguration

by WorldTribune Staff, December 14, 2018

The Obama State Department provided classified information on alleged Russian election interference to multiple senators and went to great lengths to do it before President Donald Trump was sworn into office, according to documents obtained by a government watchdog group.

Obama officials disseminated classified Russia election meddling documents to senators hours before President Donald Trump was sworn in. / Getty Images

“We made the deadline! Thank you everyone for what was truly a Department-wide effort!” a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs boasted as the documents were delivered to the senators less than 24 hours before Trump’s inauguration, one of the documents obtained by Judicial Watch revealed.

Among those receiving the classified documents were Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, and Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican.

Included in the heavily redacted documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit:

  • A Jan. 5, 2017 email chain shows then-State Department Congressional adviser Hera Abassi indicates that assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s bureau pushed to expedite delivery of the Russia investigation related documents to the senators. (In June 2016 Nuland permitted a meeting between Trump dossier author Christopher Steele and the FBI’s legal attache in Rome. Nuland told CBS News that the State Department knew about the Steele dossier by July 2016.) In the email, Abassi writes: “I told Cardin’s folks … that the process is long. Can we ensure that there are no holdups on our end?” Minutes later, Abassi confirms that Nuland was fully aware of the information that the State Department was providing to members of Congress alleging Russia interference information: “This is definitely on EUR A/S radar!”
  • In a Jan. 18, 2017 email, Foreign Service Officer Kerem Bilge writes to State Department Congressional advisor Hilary Johnson and others: “Highest class is SECRET/NOFORN.” Johnson replies: “FYI – so we can keep the SECRET/NOFORN header, and should declassify it 25 years from tomorrow. I forwarded the fully cleared version to the two of you on the high side [Editor’s Note: “high side” is State Department term for high security classification system], but let me know if there’s anything else you need from me on this. Note: we’ll need to make sure there is someone in Senate security tomorrow who can accept these.
  • Also on Jan. 18, 2017, Johnson confirms that classified documents were sent to Sens. Corker and Cardin. “Flagging that I sent you a high side request for clearance of the draft transmittal letter to send documents to Senators Corker and Cardin.”
  • In a Jan. 19, 2017 email with the subject line “Signed, sealed, delivered”, Naz Durakoglu, senior adviser to Nuland writes: “We made the deadline! Thank you everyone for what was truly a Department-wide effort!” Trump was inaugurated less than 24 hours later.

“These documents show remarkable evidence of the non-stop, unethical effort in the Obama State Department to gather and send its own dossier of classified information on Russia in an effort to discredit the incoming Trump administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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