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Long after Judicial Watch brought suit to obtain documents from the State Department under the Freedom Of Information Act, U.S. district judge Emmet Sullivan finally threw up his hands in frustration at the way details about Clinton’s classified emails and her use of a “home-brew” server were coming out in dribs and drabs.
So he did a rare thing for FOIA cases — he allowed discovery.
But now we hear that State Department lawyers are pushing back.
“It appears that no one took any steps to ensure that agency records on Clintonemail.com were secured within the State Department’s record systems,” Judge Sullivan said at his ruling in February. “How in the world could this happen?”
He went on to ask the rhetorical questions that we’d all like to see treated non-rhetorically: “Was the system created to accommodate the former Secretary? Was the system created to thwart [FOIA] compliance?”
Those questions must be addressed, he said, before we can know whether or not the government has conducted an adequate search for the documents at issue. “We’re talking about a cabinet-level official who was accommodated by the government for reasons unknown to the public,” Sullivan said.
That should be straightforward enough. But now the State Department is balking at discovery, calling for “limited” discovery, and anyone with a functioning brain should be wondering why. What, pray tell, is the problem?
I think we can guess. The judge said it himself, when he observed that senior officials working under Clinton knew she was using the private server. He even said their failure to explain why it had been set up that way was cause for “a reasonable suspicion of bad faith” on the part of State Department officials, who may have been trying to skirt transparency laws.
In other words, it’s not just Hillary Clinton, but other officials at the State Department as well, who could be in deep legal doo-doo.
Under the limited discovery that the State Department is requesting, Judicial Watch would be able to ask Clinton aides questions only about why the server was initially set up, not about how classified information might have been handled or about its security from hackers. Lawyers also said they may object to any attempt to depose Clinton at all.
Note that these aren’t Clinton’s own lawyers (at least technically), but the State Department lawyers.
The moral of this story: If we want the workings of our government to be even the slightest bit transparent, we should never ever consider, even for a moment, putting Hillary Clinton in charge of it.