During a status hearing Thursday on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a federal judge said Hillary Clinton violated government policy by storing official emails on her private server when she worked as secretary of State. He ordered the State Department to “establish a dialogue” with the FBI as it investigates the security of Clinton’s private email system.
“We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy,” U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan declared in court, according to Politico:
After Justice Department lawyer Peter Wechsler argued that FOIA normally doesn’t allow for searches of government officials’ private accounts, the judge said he viewed it as an unusual situation because “there was a violation of government policy.”
“We’re not talking about a search of anyone’s random email,” Sullivan added.
“I’m surprised that State didn’t do that already,” Sullivan said in an exchange with government lawyers.
“If you can get the information as result of a dialogue with the FBI … I think I may be satisfied,” Sullivan continued. “Let’s see what the investigation reveals, if anything.”
Amy Miller of Legal Insurrection reports that there will be “fireworks” in the weeks to come:
I expect fireworks in the coming weeks. Bekesha floated the idea of deposing the State Department’s Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy on what State knew about Clinton’s system of records. As was mentioned pre-update, Judge Sullivan suggested to JW (“suggested” as coming from a judge is more than a suggestion) that they hold off until the 30 day “dialogue” period is over before asking for any more discovery. If they do decide to request discovery, whether in the form of depositions or otherwise, we won’t have a ruling on that request until the October 1 status hearing.
One interesting nugget from the DoJ’s time at the podium: when asked about the status and timeframe of any additional responsive documents, counsel from the DoJ mentioned that State is reviewing pages containing communications from two additional employees; one of those employees is a senior advisor to Under Secretary Kennedy. DoJ declined to offer the names of those two employees in open court. (Counsel told the judge that he did not have the names in front of him, and that State has declined to release that information due to privacy concerns.) The existence of this additional review could increase the likelihood of a discovery request for information directly from the Under Secretary’s office regarding what State knew about Clinton’s system of records.