By Greg Richter
A former State Department official says he witnessed departmental employees separating out damaging documents on the Benghazi investigation before handing them over to the Accountability Review Board, The Daily Signal reports.
Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson says the man, former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, told her he saw the actions take place in a basement room at the State Department over a weekend.
Maxwell headed the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the time and was in charge of collecting emails and documents related to the probe of the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic facility on Sept. 11, 2012.
“I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,” Maxwell told Attkisson.
Once there, he said he saw stacks and boxes of documents. He saw one person who directly worked for him there, though he had not been advised of her extra duties.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,'” Maxwell told Attkisson. “Seventh floor” referred to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her advisers.
Maxwell said he suggested that was unethical, to which the woman replied, “Ray, those are our orders.”
Moments later, Maxewell said, two high-ranking State officials walked in. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told Fox News they were Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan.
“When Cheryl saw me, she snapped, ‘Who are you?'” Maxwell told Attkission.” Jake explained, ‘That’s Ray Maxwell, an NEA deputy assistant secretary.’ She conceded, ‘Well, OK.'”
Maxwell said he decided to leave a short time later because “I didn’t feel good about it.”
Maxwell was eventually put on paid leave for a year, though no formal charges were filed. He told Attkisson he and three other State Department employees were scapegoated while higher-ranking officials responsible were not disciplined.
He said he talked to the State Department ombudsman about his punishment.
“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you,'” he said.
“I told her that ‘my name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me.’ Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016.'”
Maxwell was later reinstated and subsequently retired after a 21-year career in foreign service. He was a supporter of President Barack Obama’s campaign and even contributed money, but has since soured on both Obama and his old boss, Clinton, he said.