Sidney Blumenthal defended the advice he gave to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Libya and has agreed to testify before a House committee investigating the deadly Benghazi terror attack, according to a statement provided by his lawyer Thursday.
Blumenthal, a former Bill Clinton White House aide and longtime friend of the former first couple, has been at the center of a controversy over numerous memos he sent to Hillary Clinton’s private email account while she was America’s top diplomat, offering his observations and intelligence-like reports on Libya.
“From time to time, as a private citizen and friend, I provided Secretary Clinton with material on a variety of topics that I thought she might find interesting or helpful. The reports I sent her came from sources I considered reliable,” he wrote in the statement provided to msnbc.
Blumenthal, who was recently subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee, added that he would comply. “I have informed the House Select Committee on Benghazi that I will cooperate with its inquiry and look forward to answering the Committee’s questions,” he added.
Blumenthal’s statement came via his attorney, James Cole, who until January was the deputy attorney general of the United States. He is now a partner in the Government Litigation & Investigations practice at the law firm Sidley Austin LLP.
Blumenthal is not a traditional foreign policy expert, but he was involved in business ventures in Libya and sent Clinton unsolicited reports, many of which she passed on to top aides.
Some she marked simply “fyi,” but others she endorsed. “Useful insight. Pls circulate,” she said to an aide in a message containing a memo from Blumenthal, according to a batch of emails made public Thursday by The New York Times. She thanked him and he responded by inviting the Clintons to dinner at his home.
Other times, Clinton and her staff seemed to discard the emails out of hand. “This one strains credulity. What do you think?” Clinton wrote to adviser Jake Sullivan. He agreed: “Definitely. I can share if you like, but it seems like a thin conspiracy theory.”
The memos and Blumenthal’s access to Clinton have become controversial. In Iowa on Tuesday, Clinton called Blumenthal an “old friend” and downplayed the weight of his advice. “He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. He sent me unsolicited emails, which I passed on in some instances, and that’s just part of the give-and-take,” she told reporters after a small business event in Cedar Falls.
“When you’re in the public eye, when you’re in an official position, I think you do have to work to make sure you’re not caught in a bubble and you only hear from a certain small group of people,” she added.
Clinton is also expected to testify before the Benghazi committee, but a date has not yet been set.