Hillary Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination is fraught with difficulties.
On Wednesday, U.S. Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan signed an order granting a request from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch to question several of Clinton’s aides and former State Department staffers about the purpose for the creation of her private email system.
According to the Hill, Sullivan said in a court order that Hillary Clinton might soon have to ask questions under oath herself.
“Based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary. If plaintiff believes Mrs. Clinton’s testimony is required, it will request permission from the Court at the appropriate time.”
The court order leaves open the possibility that Clinton will be forced to answer detailed questions on the eve of her formal selection as the Democratic presidential nominee about the reasons for the creation of the server.
Among the Clinton aides who have been asked to testify are former chief of staff Cheryl D. Mills, deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, and undersecretary Patrick F. Kennedy.
Bryan Pagliano, the IT official who was tasked with the creation and maintenance of the private Clinton server, is also among those included in the list. Pagliano has earlier refused to testify before Congress, invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
He has previously been deemed as a “devastating witness” in the case and has been granted immunity by the FBI on the grounds that he reveal the full details about how and why Clinton’s personal email system was set up.
Sullivan also ordered the State Department to prepare an official answer about Clinton’s emails.
The whole process is set to be finished in a period of about eight weeks, meaning that a deposition may be in the cards for Hillary Clinton almost a month before the Democratic Convention, which is set to take place in the last week of July.
Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who has been closely observing the development of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails, said her deposition is necessary to know the reasons behind the creation of the server. But he expects Clinton’s legal team to fight tooth and nail in such a situation.
“Her legal team is really going to fight that really hard. You have to take her deposition in this case to fully understand how it was designed and the whys and the what-fors.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called Sullivan’s court order regarding the deposition of Clinton’s close aides “a significant victory for transparency and accountability,” and predicted that it would shed a light on Clinton’s email practices.
Ever since the case came to light about a year ago, Hillary Clinton’s critics have accused her of setting up the private server and then deleting half its contents to evade public scrutiny. They have accused Hillary of sharing classified governmental information on her private server, making it easier for hackers to retrieve such information.
It remains to be seen if Hillary Clinton is asked to testify under oath before the Democratic Convention, but after Wednesday’s court order, it appears increasingly likely. And if it does happen, no matter where Clinton stands in the Democratic race currently, her chances of clinching the nomination would surely be in jeopardy.
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