March 29, 2016: The State Department will need to reveal more on why they kept Clinton’s emails secret.

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth declares that Judicial Watch is entitled to more details on how Clinton’s private email account was integrated into the State Department record-keeping system and why it wasn’t searched in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Lamberth refers to “constantly shifting admissions by the government and the former government officials.” He says, “Where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” “Discovery” will allow Judicial Watch access to more information, and often includes depositions of targeted people.

The State Department has been slow responding to a FOIA request file in May 2014 about the government response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

A different judge granted Judicial Watch discovery in a related case in February 2016. (Politico, 3/29/2016)

April 5, 2016: The State Department wants to limit questions about Clinton’s email scandal.

The department argues in a court filing that top aides to Clinton should not be questioned about the on-going FBI investigation of Clinton’s private email and server, nor should they be questioned about the contents of their emails. Because of a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled in February 2016 that he would permit “narrowly tailored” discovery. Judicial Watch wants to question Clinton’s aides chief of staff Cheryl Mills, deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, and computer specialist Bryan Pagliano, and they want access to four others.

Although the State Department doesn’t object to the aides being questioned, they want to limit the questions to the issue of how and why Clinton’s private server was created. Judicial Watch hasn’t asked for Clinton’s testimony yet, but said they may do so in the future. (Politico, 4/5/2016)

June 28, 2016: Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin is deposed in a civil suit; she says Clinton didn’t want her personal emails accessible by anybody.

Photo of an ABC News report on Huma Abedin's deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News).

An ABC News report on Huma Abedin’s deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, and continues to play a major role as the vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She is deposed under oath for nearly six hours as part of a civil suit brought by Judicial Watch regarding the State Department’s slow response to certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

Amongst other things, Abedin says:

  • She isn’t aware whether Clinton personally deleted any emails while still in office.
  • She cannot recall whether she or Clinton discussed with any State Department officials Clinton’s using only her own server for government business.
  • She never searched or was asked to search her government or her private email accounts in response to requests or lawsuits under FOIA. But a review of all requests to the State Department during that time found several asking specifically for her emails on a number of subjects.
  • Clinton didn’t want the private emails that she mixed in with work-related emails to be accessible to “anybody.” (The Associated Press, 6/29/2016)

Abedin responds to some questions but is forgetful about others. The lack of definitive answers from her and the other former aides deposed in the same lawsuit could open the door to Clinton herself being deposed, if the judge allows it through the unusual discovery process he has approved so far.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “I think it’s striking that even Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had concerns about how the system affected Mrs. Clinton’s ability to do her job. We’re considering what next steps to take and what additional discovery we need.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)