Judge Forces State, Justice Depts. to Cooperate in Clinton Email Lawsuit

‘To reassure the American people their government remains committed to transparency and the rule of law, this suspicion cannot be allowed to fester…’

(Judicial Watch) A federal court will force two federal agencies to cooperate in a lawsuit attempting to shed light on some of Hillary Clinton’s biggest scandals as secretary of State.

In a ruling excoriating both the Departments of State and Justice, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered both agencies to join Judicial Watch in submitting a proposed schedule for discovery into whether Hillary Clinton sought to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a private email system and whether the State Department acted in “bad faith” by failing to disclose knowledge of the email system.

The decision comes in a FOIA lawsuit related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. It is one of several that the accountability watchdog group has pending against the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, despite their having routinely stonewalled the requests for information.

Specially, Lamberth ruled the parties must meet and confer to plan discovery into whether

  1. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA
  2. the State Department’s attempts to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith
  3. State has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s requests

Terming Clinton’s use of her private email system, “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency,” Lamberth wrote in his memorandum opinion that President Barack Obama’s State and Justice departments “fell far short” of the administration’s publicly expressed desire to be the ‘most transparent in history.’

In fact, Lamberth said he questioned “even now, whether they are acting in good faith.”

At best, he said, “State’s attempt to pass-off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence. At worst, career employees in the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.”
Turning his attention to the Department of Justice, Lamberth wrote that the current DOJ was continuing to exacerbate the problem and accused them of using ‘doublespeak’ and omission of information to try to mislead the court.
“When asked why State masked the inadequacy of its initial search, counsel claimed that the officials who initially responded to Judicial Watch’s request didn’t realize Clinton’s emails were missing, and that it took them two months to ‘figure out what was going on’… Counsel’s responses strain credulity.”

The Court granted discovery because the government’s response to the Judicial Watch Benghazi FOIA request for Clinton emails “smacks of outrageous conduct.”

Citing an email (uncovered as a result of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit) that Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Benghazi was a terrorist attack immediately after it happened, Judge Lamberth questioned motives behind the administration’s initial public claims that the attack was the result of a protest gone awry.

“Did the Department merely fear what might be found? Or was State’s bungling just the unfortunate result of bureaucratic redtape and a failure to communicate? To preserve the Department’s integrity, and to reassure the American people their government remains committed to transparency and the rule of law, this suspicion cannot be allowed to fester.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton applauded the judge’s decision.

“The historic court ruling raises concerns the Hillary Clinton email scandal and government corruption that millions of Americans share,” Fitton said.

“Judicial Watch looks forward to conducting careful discovery into the Clinton email issue and we hope the Justice and State Department recognizes Judge Lamberth’s criticism and helps, rather than obstructs, this court-ordered discovery.”