Per JustheNews, the State Department on Monday rejected Hillary Clinton’s effort to avoid depositions for herself and her former chief of staff in a lawsuit brought by the government watchdog organization Judicial Watch.
The former Secretary of State and her former top aide Cheryl Mills are seeking a writ of mandamus to avoid a judge’s order requiring their testimony in an open records case involving Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business.
“The government did not seek and thus does not support the extraordinary relief of mandamus due to the unique circumstances of this case,” reads the State Department’s response signed by multiple members of the Justice Department.
WashingtonExaminer reports the State Department declined to join former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s effort to convince an appeals court to let her dodge a judge-ordered sworn deposition about her use of a private email server and the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
“The Court agrees with Judicial Watch — it is time to hear directly from Secretary Clinton,” U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in March while also ordering former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills to be deposed by the conservative watchdog.
Clinton’s legal team responded last month with an 83-page petition for a writ of mandamus, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, calling the district court ruling outrageous and asking a higher court to order the lower court to correct what Clinton’s lawyers saw as a deficient decision.
But the State Department, represented in court by Justice Department lawyers, declined to join Clinton’s legal argument on Friday.
“The government did not seek and thus does not support the extraordinary relief of mandamus due to the unique circumstances of this case,” DOJ appeals lawyer Mark Freeman told the higher court in a seven-page filing. “This is the rare situation in which discovery of a former Cabinet Secretary was not authorized for the impermissible purpose of probing internal government decision-making regarding official policy, but rather to focus on the impact on FOIA compliance of a former official’s unusual decision to use a private email server to systematically conduct large volumes of official business.”
Freeman said “the government’s decision not to seek mandamus here — after each of the discovery orders, not only the most recent — reflects the government’s consideration of the totality of the circumstances in this unique case.”
The legal team for Clinton said in March that reversing the order “is warranted because Judicial Watch’s impending depositions of Secretary Clinton and Ms. Mills are inappropriate, unnecessary, and a clear abuse of discretion.”
Clinton’s lead attorney, David Kendall, claimed, “Judicial Watch could not possibly show the extraordinary circumstances required to depose (or re-depose) former high-ranking officials regarding their reasons for taking official actions, and the court abused its discretion in finding otherwise.”
But Judicial Watch defended its efforts to the appeals court.
“The question … is whether Clinton purposefully routed the entire body of emails she sent and received during her four-year tenure at State, not just one email… [and] whether she did so to circumvent all FOIA requests concerning her emails,” Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Cotca said in a 63-page filing on Friday. “The reasons the District Court gave for its decision to authorize Clinton’s deposition — her state of mind when she decided to set up and use a private server, her awareness of her records management obligations, and her awareness of steps taken to prevent records managers and others from learning about her private server, among others — are directly related to answering these questions.”
Judicial Watch also said “questioning Clinton about whether she used a private server to evade FOIA may help answer whether State’s failure to disclose the Clinton email issue in 2014 or early 2015 harmed the district court’s integrity or abused its process.”
The State Department did seem to push back on that Friday, saying, “Assertions that the government acted in bad faith in litigating this FOIA request are wholly without basis.”
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said Monday that “Hillary Clinton’s desperate appeal to avoid testimony is even too much for her defenders at the State and Justice Department.”
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