‘This is the rare situation in which discovery of a former Cabinet Secretary was not authorized for the impermissible purpose of probing internal government decision-making…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The State Department refused to back former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempt to dodge a judge-ordered deposition about her role in the 2012 Benghazi scandal and her misuse of a private email server.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled last month that the court must “hear directly from Secretary Clinton” since Clinton’s written answers to questions “were either incomplete, unhelpful, or cursory at best,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Clinton’s legal team responded with a petition for writ of mandamus, claiming Lamberth’s order is ridiculous and asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn it. Clinton’s team also asked the State Department to join its request to the appeals court, but the department refused.
“The government did not seek and thus does not support the extraordinary relief of mandamus due to the unique circumstances of this case,” Justice Department lawyer Mark Freeman told the appeals court.
Because of the nature of Clinton’s missteps throughout her time as secretary of State, the department does not want to stand in the way of a “discovery order,” Freeman explained.
While a matter strictly related to Clinton’s internal deliberations while overseeing the department would be protected, her potential violations of the Freedom of Information Act are not, he added.
“This is the rare situation in which discovery of a former Cabinet Secretary was not authorized for the impermissible purpose of probing internal government decision-making regarding official policy,” Freeman wrote in a seven-page filing, “but rather to focus on the impact on FOIA compliance of a former official’s unusual decision to use a private email server to systematically conduct large volumes of official business.”
Judicial Watch, a conservative non-profit watchdog, has been seeking a deposition for the past few years.
Clinton’s team dismissed the deposition as “inappropriate, unnecessary, and a clear abuse of discretion,” arguing that Judicial Watch “could not possibly show the extraordinary circumstances required to depose” Clinton.
Judicial Watch, however, argued that Clinton’s actions speak for themselves.
“The question … is whether Clinton purposefully routed the entire body of emails she sent and received during her four-year tenure at State, not just one email… [and] whether she did so to circumvent all FOIA requests concerning her emails,” Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Cotca said in a court filing last week.
“The reasons the District Court gave for its decision to authorize Clinton’s deposition—her state of mind when she decided to set up and use a private server, her awareness of her records management obligations, and her awareness of steps taken to prevent records managers and others from learning about her private server, among others—are directly related to answering these questions,” Cotca continued.