By Evan Halper
The Democrats on the House Benghazi committee released their final conclusions from the inquiry into attacks on Americans in that Libyan city in 2012, and in the report they say, once again, that the investigation is a politically motivated sham aimed at damaging the reputation of Hillary Clinton.
But the report, which the Democrats published as a preemptive strike before the Republican majority releases findings likely to charge ineptitude and deception by the former secretary of State, also revealed, apparently unintentionally, details about the eye-popping amount of money a close Clinton friend and advisor made in a contract with a pro-Clinton nonprofit.
Democrats released but redacted a transcript of Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal answering the committee’s questions to make the point that Republicans do not want the public to know what went on during the his interrogation, during which GOP members arguably used their subpoena power to conduct political opposition research unrelated to Benghazi.
But the redaction marks are easily erased by anyone able to use a computer’s cut-and-paste function. Once the marks are lifted, the transcript portion reveals some unflattering things for any partisans on the committee, Republican or Democrat. It shows that Republicans did, indeed, leverage their subpoena of Blumenthal for political gain, digging into his financial contracts with David Brock and forcing him to reveal the details of a lucrative financial arrangement that congressional sources would ultimately leak to Fox News.
And for Democrats, the exchange exposes once again the absurd amounts of money people in the orbit of the Clintons sometimes seem to rake in just for, well, being in the orbit of the Clintons. “I’d say it’s about $200,000 a year,” Blumenthal said when asked by a committee member how much the part-time work offering up advice and ideas was worth.
“Redacted due to Chairman Gowdy’s refusal to allow release of transcript,” says a footnote to the pages of thick black redaction marks. “If released, the transcript would show that Republicans asked Mr. Blumenthal questions about his relationship with Media Matters, David Brock and Correct the Record.” Brock is a longtime Clinton loyalist, and Correct the Record and Media Matters are among the nonprofits he uses to attack Clinton opponents.
And how did Blumenthal get such a contract? “I have had a very long friendship with the chairman of Media Matters, whose name is David Brock, from before he founded this organization, and I have sustained that friendship. And he asked me to help provide ideas and advice to him and his organizations,” Blumenthal said.
Actually, the two got to know each other during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, during Brock’s former incarnation as a right-wing “hit man” journalist. He was starting to undergo his political conversion and in the process was feeding then-White House aide Blumenthal intelligence about what the right was plotting against Bill Clinton. Both men wrote about it in their books.
Below is the full transcript excerpt that Democrats intended not to publish. It is unclear who the questioner is in the first section.
Read the rest here.