State Department officials sent the White House as many as 34 different sets of internal documents that had been requested by Congress or under the Freedom of Information Act so the president's staff could review them for potentially embarrassing information.
Although the agency acknowledged having records of the exchanges, officials refused to release any part of the documentation under FOIA exemptions that allow the government to withhold information about its decision-making process.
All 34 exchanges took place between January 2012 and the end of 2013, when Cause of Action, a watchdog group, filed a request for any records that indicated the State Department had handed over documents requested by Congress, the Government Accountability Office or individuals under FOIA.
The exchanges were made possible by a controversial policy, which was laid out in a 2009 memo, that compels agencies to refer documents that could contain "White House equities" to the president's counsel for review.
Critics have said the vague definition of "White House equities" could allow the White House to block the release of any documents that might raise uncomfortable questions for the president.
For example, the State Department refused to provide some Benghazi-related documents to the House Select Committee on Benghazi because those records contained "important executive branch institutional interests."
The policy creates delays in the disclosures of records as well given the fact that attorneys for the White House must perform a second round of reviews on documents already screened by agency officials.
Cause of Action has noted that the 2009 "White House equities" policy "stands in stark contrast" to the president's inaugural promise that his would be the most transparent administration in history.
The time period outlined in the group's FOIA request likely included a series of document requests from Congress in relation to Benghazi, as multiple investigations were underway during the roughly two-year span.
But the State Department declined to elaborate on the nature of the 34 records it withheld.
Cause of Action did not request the actual records under review by the White House, but only documentation that an exchange of documents between the State Department occurred, such as a cover letter.
Even so, the agency refused to release any part of the documents, raising further questions about a policy that could have prevented as many as 34 different requests from being filled.