When a room full of frustrated reporters take turns asking the same question, it’s probably one that needs answering, but that didn’t deter the ever-dodging queen of State Dept. BS, Marie Harf.
During Wednesday’s State Department press briefing, the Dept. spokesperson dodged questions on whether Cheryl Mills, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, had blocked Freedom of Information Act requests for information relating to Clinton.
The issue came up because of a Wall Street Journal report indicating that Mills had interfered with FOIA requests.
Harf replied that she “had no knowledge or information to confirm the claims made in the report,” what the law provides for the release of FOIA requests.
“The department only withholds materials that are exempt or excluded from public release under the terms spelled out in the Freedom of Information Act,” she said. “And that’s what governs what is ultimately released.”
Harf continued to be pressed on the issue.
“Would it ever be appropriate for any State Department personnel to advocate for a document not to be released?” she was asked.
“I’m just not going to get into that,” Harf said.
Justin Fishel, Fox News State Department correspondent jumped in.
“Are you saying it wouldn’t be inappropriate for people in this positions …”
“To be made aware of documents that could potentially respond to FOIA,” she interrupted, and then reiterated that she wasn’t in a position to confirm or deny the Wall Street Journal report.
But Fishel wasn’t satisfied and continued to press Harf.
Would it be appropriate for a member of the secretary’s staff or inappropriate for a member of the secretary’s staff to negotiate with …”
“I’m just not going to address that kind of hypothetical,” Harf interrupted again.
After the two argued whether the question posed was hypothetical, Fishel again pressed Harf.
“Would it be inappropriate for you or for someone on the secretary’s staff,” he said,” to negotiate with the FOIA office? Is that inappropriate?”
“I’m not going to direct a broad question like that,” she said, having given up on her “hypothetical question” argument.
She closed by stating again that the Freedom of Information Act determines what documents may be released to the public, which had nothing to do with the question.
When another jumped in, Harf cut off all questions on the issue be simply stating “I wasn’t here at the time.”
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