That is an average of about one email every other day for Clinton’s four years as secretary of state. Blumenthal is a journalist, long-time Clinton confidant, and Clinton Foundation employee. But he is also a private citizen with no security clearance, so his emails are never vetted by US intelligence.
In 2015, The New York Times will report that Clinton “took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.” Furthermore, his “involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics, and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.”
Many of Blumenthal’s emails discuss Libya, which becomes a political hot spot due to a civil war in 2011. At the same time, he gets involved with business associates wanting to win contracts from what will become the new Libyan government. Clinton’s State Department would have to give permits for the contracts, but the business plans fall apart before Blumenthal and his partners can seek official approval.
Most of his intelligence appears to come from one of his partners, Tyler Drumheller, who was a CIA official until 2005. It’s not clear where Drumheller gets his information from. Various officials express skepticism about his emails, as they were sometimes based on false rumors. But Clinton continues to encourage Blumenthal with occasional email replies like “Useful insight” or “We should get this around ASAP.” The Times will note that “Blumenthal’s direct line to Mrs. Clinton circumvented the elaborate procedures established by the federal government to ensure that high-level officials are provided with vetted assessments of available intelligence.”
Former CIA official Paul Pillar will later comment that Blumenthal’s sourcing “is pretty sloppy, in a way that would never pass muster if it were the work of a reports officer at a US intelligence agency.” (The New York Times, 5/18/2015) (WikiLeaks, 1/16/2016)