A Washington, D.C., federal judge, perhaps tired of getting the runaround from the Obama State Department, has moved up a hearing with the State Department, originally scheduled for September, to this Thursday, August 20th. This is the latest development in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, the former deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Apparently, the State Department hasn’t read our prior reports on Judge Emmet G. Sullivan or taken note of how similar claims have not been well-received when made by the IRS.With astonishing disregard for the truth, the Judge’s questions, or its responsibilities to Congress or the citizens of the United States, the State Department advised that it “is not currently working with DOJ, the FBI or other agencies” for two reasons. “First, the FOIA does not require an agency to search for and produce records that are not in its possession and control.” And, it claims that it is neither in possession nor control of the Clinton’s server.Obviously, that is precisely the cause of the entire outrage in the first place. The initial legal violations exist because the State Department did not require, and Mrs. Clinton did not use, the secure State.gov for her official emails. Mrs. Clinton should never have had any official State Department information in her personal account or on her server—most especially any sensitive, classified information or any information “respecting the national defense” such as drone signal intelligence.
On Monday, government watchdog group Judicial Watch responded to the State Department’s August 14 filing:
Taking [the State Department’s] sworn statement on its face, it appears as though the declarant made no effort whatsoever to find out what electronic devices the former head of the agency and two of her closest advisors used to conduct official government business for four years and where these electronic devices may be located or if they are still in existence.
Similarly, [the State Department] offered no evidence whatsoever concerning servers, backups, or other devices in its possession.
In addition, [the State Department] does not identify whether former Secretary Clinton was provided or used a state.gov email address.
Moreover, only now – more than 18 months after the initial searches were conducted – does [the State Department] disclose that it searched the state.gov email accounts of “two other former employees.”
Because [the State Department] and the three individuals – who apparently are really five individuals – have now failed to comply with the Court’s order and to provide complete answers to basic questions, [Judicial Watch] agrees with the Court’s assessment that a time may come that “other kinds of discovery” would be appropriate. That time may be now.
The court has now ordered State to provide a report by August 19 and to appear for a hearing on August 20:
In light of the State Department’s August 14, 2015 Status Report and Judicial Watch’s August 17, 2015 reply thereto, a status hearing will be held on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. in Courtroom 24A. The State Department shall file a reply to Judicial Watch’s August 17, 2015 response no later than 12:00 p.m. on August 19, 2015.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding the court order granting Judicial Watch’s request for a hearing this week, which had previously been scheduled for September:
The Obama administration’s obstruction of the courts and our Freedom of Information Act litigation must end. The court and the American people are weary of their legal gamesmanship. We are fighting for the public’s right to know what Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin and others were sending and receiving during their four years running the State Department.