A close ally of Hillary Clinton said Thursday he corresponded with her about the Benghazi attacks and other national security issues “as a private citizen and friend,” and stressed that the emails he sent her were meant to be read as information “I thought she might find interesting or helpful.”
Sidney Blumenthal, a top aide to President Bill Clinton, also said he’ll cooperate with a congressional panel investigating the attacks, after the panel subpoenaed him to testify on his correspondence.
“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,” he said in a statement provided by his attorney. “The reports I sent her came from sources I considered reliable. 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.”
On Thursday, The New York Times published a trove of emails relating to her handling of the Benghazi incident, including more than two dozen memos sent by Blumenthal on Libya, a country where he had business dealings.
In one, sent the day after the attacks, he gave the same mistaken explanation that White House and State Department officials initially provided, attributing them to “demonstrators … inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious Internet video on the prophet Mohammed.” He sent another memo a day later ascribing the attacks to terrorism.
All were sent to Clinton’s private email, a breach of White House email protocol that has sparked considerable controversy and persistent questions for Clinton as she makes a second run for the presidency.
She sometimes forwarded them to her staff, asking them to look into the details. At one point, Clinton attempted to bring Blumenthal onto her staff at the State Department, but she was blocked by Obama aides, reportedly because of his opposition to the President during the 2008 campaign.
On Tuesday, Clinton downplayed the significance of her correspondence with Blumenthal, acknowledging only having received “unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances.”
“I have many, many old friends, and I always think that it’s important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what’s on their minds,” she told reporters.
She also said: “I’m going to keep talking to my old friends, whoever they are.”
CNN’s Dan Merica and Chris Frates contributed to this report.