A former State Department diplomat has said that Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to "separate" damaging Benghazi documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board, according to the Daily Signal.
The allegation comes as the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Accountability Review Board was investigating security lapses surrounding the attacks on the Benghazi, Libya U.S. mission. An after-hours session to sift through documents took place over a weekend at the State Department headquarters, according to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell.
Maxwell was a leader in the State Department of Eastern Affairs at the time.
"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 said. A State Department office manager, who Maxwell said was close to Clinton's top advisers, was there for the weekend assignment.
"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,’" says Maxwell. He says "seventh floor" was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.
"I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’"
In October 2012, shortly after the Benghazi attacks, the ARB issued a call for documents. The executive directorate of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs was put in charge of collecting relevant material, which was boxed up and ended up in the basement room before being turned over, according to Maxwell.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said Maxwell told him the same story last year in a private interview.
"For Hillary Clinton's personal chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to be making a concerted effort to hide documents, make sure that the Accountability Review Board and Congress did not see those documents is unbelievable and absolutely wrong," Chaffetz said.
"What they were looking for is anything that made them look bad. That's the way it was described to us," Chaffetz said. The documents were to be removed so Congress and the ARB would not see them.