Washington watchdog Judicial Watch has asked a federal judge for permission to put Hillary Clinton under oath and ask her questions about her emails – even though the FBI investigated and said that while Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of secret information, she should not be charged criminally for her actions.
“Secretary Clinton’s testimony is necessary because plaintiff still requires answers to the following questions, among others: The purpose for the clintonemail.com system. … Secretary Clinton’s continue use of the system even though, at times, it interfered with her job as secretary. … Secretary Clinton’s claim over the records on the clintonemail.com system. … Secretary Clinton’s inventorying of records upon completion of her tenure as secretary.”
The motion for permission to depose Hillary Clinton and two others was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday by Judicial Watch.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington said at that time that Hillary Clinton may have to be deposed, but Judicial Watch would need specific permission for that.
“There has been a constant drip, drip, drip of declarations. When does it stop?” Sullivan said, the Washington Post reported at the time. “This case is about the public’s right to know.”
Sullivan said there was “reasonable suspicion” that public access to official records related to the Democratic Party front-runner was undermined.
The discovery effort arises in a lawsuit by Judicial Watch that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former deputy chief of staff to Clinton. The lawsuit had been shut down, but was reopened because of revelations about the clintonemail.com system.
Now Judicial Watch has told the judge, “Although significant progress has been made in uncovering evidence concerning the creation and use of the clintonemail.com system and the State Department’s approach and practice for processing FOIA … important questions remain.”
The Washington watchdog group described Hillary Clinton as “the primary driving force behind and principal user of the clintonemail.com system.”
That makes her testimony critical to understanding the system, and the need for it.
“It also is crucial to understanding why the secretary chose to use the system for all her official email communications, not only initially but also after the system proved to be so problematic for the department, top departmental officials, and the secretary herself,” the filing said.
The FBI confirmed that while agents asked Hillary Clinton questions about her email, she never was put under oath.
In fact, the interview wasn’t recorded and there’s no transcript of the questions or answers.
FBI Director James Comey told Congress he didn’t interview her personally as part of the agency’s investigation of her email, and he did not speak with the “five or six” investigators who did.
He said his knowledge of the interview was based on a summary.
Judicial Watch’s request is for permission to get answers about why Clinton would not use an official State Department email account but insisted on her own.
Two other witnesses were not “able to provide definitive answers” and another “invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than answer plaintiff’s questions,” Judicial Watch reported.
The logic of such a move isn’t readily apparent, either.
“Evidence obtained through discovery shows that the clintonemail.com system appears to have suffered multiple and repeated technical problems, weather-related disruptions, and known incidents of hacking,” Judicial Watch said. “On one occasion, a technical problem with the system caused Secretary Clinton to miss a telephone call with a foreign minister because an email from the clintonemail.co system never made its way to the appropriate State Department employees.”
Judicial Watch noted it also still wants to question Clarence Finney, director of office of correspondence and records of the Executive Secretariat and John Bentel, former director of information resource management of the Executive Secretariat.”
The organization said Sullivan immediately issued an order for a court hearing July 18 to consider the request.
“Hillary Clinton can answer questions about her email practices that no other witness can. Her testimony will help the court determine if, how, and why FOIA was thwarted by the Clinton email system,” the organization said.