If there was any doubt, or suspense on which side of the Hillary email scandal the “impartial” Department of Justice stands, the suspense was lifted and all was revealed yesterday when as The Hill reported, the Obama administration stepped into the ongoing Judicial Watch lawsuit and is fighting to prevent former SecState Hillary Clinton from being deposed.
Late Thursday evening the Justice Department, under US attorney general Loretta Lynch, first appointed in 1999 by none other than Bill Clinton, filed a court motion opposing the Clinton deposition request from conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch, claiming that the organization was trying to dramatically expand the scope of the lawsuit.
As a reminder, as revealed last night, in the first deposition from the ongoing Judicial Watch lawsuit – which has obtained or seeks depositions from all SecState staffers close to Hillary – we learned thanks to State Department veteran Lewis Lukens, that not only did Hillary not know how to use a computer but that her email actually had no password protection.
It is these kinds of revelations that the Department of Justice, in its quest for “justice”, is seeking to prevent from seeing the light of day, only in the official filing the DOJ was a little more circumspect. Judicial Watch is “seeking instead to transform these proceedings into a wide-ranging inquiry into matters beyond the scope of the court’s order and unrelated to the FOIA request at issue in this case,” government lawyers wrote in their filing, referring to the Freedom of Information Act. The lawyers wrote that the request to interview Clinton “is wholly inappropriate” before depositions are finished in a separate case also concerning the email server.
In light of the recent report by the State Department Inspector General, with which Hillary also refused to cooperate, one could say it is entirely approprirate for her to be deposed.
As a reminder, the Judicial Watch FOIA case began as a way to seek documents about talking points related to the 2012 terror attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, but has since grown to encompass wider questions about Clinton’s use of a personal server while working as secretary of State.
Last week, Judicial Watch asked the court to interview Clinton and five other current and former State Department officials about the server, after it received a judge’s permission to move ahead with the process. The case is the second in which Judicial Watch has been granted approval to depose witnesses to gather evidence about Clinton’s email setup. In the other case, interviews of current and former Clinton aides have already begun.
For now, Hillary is not scheduled to answer questions as part of that case, through a federal judge has warned that she could be called upon in the future. It is this potentially destructive deposition, that the DOJ is seeking to hide.
In the government’s filing late Thursday, the Justice Department said that Judicial Watch’s request is “overbroad and duplicative.” It claimed the group should complete the depositions in the other case first before demanding an interview of Clinton and the other officials.
In other words, the DOJ is stalling for time to prevent a Hillary deposition until some time in July by which point Clinton should at least wrapped up have the democratic nomination.
However, the department did say that it would not oppose a request to subpoena Jake Sullivan, a former senior State Department official and current top aide in Clinton’s presidential campaign, as long as questions were “on the limited topic” of officials using personal email accounts at the department.
Finally, the DOJ said it would be willing to provide an unnamed witness to provide answers on behalf of the State Department in response to narrow questions about the FOIA request at the heart of the case. In other words an untainted surrogate who would provide answers in lieu of Hillary.
That solution, government lawyers claimed, would “avoid the burden and expense” of going through a deposition process “that replicates activities already underway in another, overlapping case between the parties.”
Finally, tecall that in July 2015, the inspector general for the State Department announced that as a result of the classified emails found in Clinton’s personal server, that the inspectors general had sent a non-criminal “referral” to the Justice Department over the matter. As a result, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her department, would have to determine whether to open a criminal investigation into Clinton’s affairs.
As a further reminder, recall that before becoming attorney general, Lynch served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. It was her second time in the position, having been first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999.
At the time, Lynch declined to say whether her connection to the Clintons creates a conflict of interest for her. We finally have the official answer.