Hillary Clinton: Second Federal Judge Orders Limited Discovery In ‘Emailgate’ Lawsuit
A second judge ordered conservative legal advocacy organization Judicial Watch to investigate Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of private email account in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit request.
On March 29, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lambert released an order permitting Judicial Watch to conduct limited discovery of State Department officials on the adequacy of the Department’s “search for responsive documents” in a FOIA request seeking to search for Benghazi talking points records.
MEDIA ALERT Court Hearing Scheduled for Thursday, 3/31 in Judicial Watch FOIA Case on Benghazi, Clinton Emails: https://t.co/FkKZGz11mq
— Judicial Watch (@JudicialWatch) March 30, 2016
Judge Lambert admitted the organization’s request to conduct discovery is unusual in FOIA cases, but he believes it is necessary for this particular instance. “Where there is evidence of government wrongdoing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases,” Lamberth indicated in his order.
According to the federal judge, the state insists it had no legal duty to search Clinton’s correspondence when Judicial Watch’s request reached them because Clinton had not yet submitted her email archive to the government at the time. The state asked that Clinton submit all of her communications records, but she reportedly only turned over half of her email records in December 2014, months after her tenure as Secretary of State had ended.
“The government argues that this does not show a lack of good faith, but that is what remains to be seen, and the factual record must be developed appropriately for the Court to make that determination,” Lamberth stated. He also mentioned the “constantly shifting admissions by the Government and the former government officials.”
As soon as the discovery is completed, Lamberth will determine whether the State Department acted in good faith with regard to Clinton’s potentially responsive emails.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton explained the importance of Lamberth’s ruling:
“This remarkable decision will allow Judicial Watch to explore the shifting stories and misrepresentations made by the Obama State Department and its current and former employees. This Benghazi litigation first uncovered the Clinton email scandal, so it is good to have discovery in this lawsuit which may help the American people find out why our efforts to get Benghazi answers was thwarted by Clinton’s email games.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 25, 2016
The FOIA lawsuits, filed against the State Department, are a separate issue from the current FBI probe into the existence of classified items on the former Secretary of State’s private email server.
Previously, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order that seeks to depose several Clinton staff members in another FOIA lawsuit related to her email server scandal. Lamberth mentioned Sullivan’s ruling in his new order and stated that Judicial Watch will have to wait until Judge Sullivan has given his final decision in the case he is handling before they take the next step.
“It’s a remarkable decision that highlights the serious issues with the State Department and Mrs. Clinton’s activities,” Fitton said in an interview regarding the court rule. He added that the discovery “will allow us to get into the shifting explanations and potential misrepresentations and exactly where the missing records might be.”
Judicial Watch is calling for the deposition of eight key Clinton personnel, including Huma Abedin, former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, whom Hillary Clinton commissioned to set-up her private email server at her New York home.
The State Department is reportedly scheduled to give its response to the discovery proposal on Tuesday. Sullivan is said to rule on the matter by April 15. Lamberth gave Judicial Watch ten days to enter additional discovery requests “tailored” to this present case.
[Image by Spencer Platt, Getty Images]