A federal judge has ordered Hillary Clinton to respond to questions from Judicial Watch in connection with an FOIA request for information about her private email server.
JW wanted to depose Clinton in person, but the judge is allowing the candidate to answer written questions, but under oath.
Hillary Clinton will have to give testimony about her secret email server and account, but it will be in writing rather than in person, a federal judge ruled Friday, delivering a partial victory to the Democratic presidential candidate.
Mrs. Clinton will have until the middle of November — after the election — to answer those questions, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled.
But the State Department must quickly process and release any of the emails the FBI recovered from Mrs. Clinton’s accounts that are being sought in the open-records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch. Judge Sullivan said those must be released by Sept. 30.
The judge said Mrs. Clinton has “unique first-hand knowledge” of why she refused to use the department’s normal email and instead set up a system that shielded her communications from public view for years. But the judge said putting a former Cabinet secretary under oath in person was too burdensome, when written questions would suffice — and he insisted Judicial Watch be careful about how far it goes.
“The Court directs Judicial Watch to propound questions that are relevant to Secretary Clinton’s unique first-hand knowledge of ‘the creation and operation of clintonemail.com for State Department business, as well as the State Department’s approach and practice for processing FOIA requests that potentially implicated former SecretaryClinton’s and Ms. Abedin’s emails and State’s processing of the FOIA request that is the subject of this action,” Judge Sullivan wrote.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has been trying to pry loose many of the details about Mrs. Clinton’s time as State Department secretary, had wanted in-person testimony, saying that was the only way to handle follow-ups that might arise based on what she says.
The judge, though, said Mrs. Clinton has spoken publicly and left such a broad record that Judicial Watch can anticipate follow-ups. And he left open the chance that Judicial Watch could come back to the court for more follow-ups later.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Clinton told the FBI that the idea for a private email server came from Colin Powell over dinner before she took office. Powell says he has no recollection of the conversation.
Judicial Watch is likely to ask the same question. In light of Powell’s response, how will she answer?
Hillary Clinton will be asked these questions under oath for the first time. But the fact that they’re written questions means her lawyers will make sure there are no time bombs or land mines to trip her up later. So in the end, we’re likely to be as much in the dark about her private server and the reasons surrounding its use as we are now.