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Judge: Feds may be acting in 'bad faith' over Clinton emails - WND
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WND reported this week U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted Judicial Watch permission for more discovery in its lawsuit pursuing information about Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information on her private, unsecure email server while she was secretary of state for Barack Obama.
Now we know why.
Judicial Watch on Friday released a transcript of the hearing revealing the judge's impatience with the federal government's efforts to conceal details of Clinton's behavior.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said his organization uncovered "new information about the Clinton email scandal that a federal court agrees requires more answers."
"We share the court's annoyance with DOJ lawyers who continue to defend the indefensible," he said. "It is beyond disturbing that the State and Justice Departments would continue to try to protect Hillary Clinton and cover up her email scandal. President Trump should order the agencies to cooperate in uncovering the truth."
During the recent hearing, the judge granted Judicial Watch seven more depositions, three interrogatories and four document requests related to the Clinton scandal. And Clinton and her former top aide and current lawyer, Cheryl Mills, were allowed 30 days to submit their opposition to being deposed by Judicial Watch.
The dispute is over Freedom of Information Act submissions and lawsuits Judicial Watch has been pursuing regarding emails Clinton funneled through her private email system, which likely was hacked by foreign interests.
Among the emails were many with classified information. Clinton famously had more than 30,000 of the emails deleted, arguing her staff deemed them unrelated to her government work.
In the recent hearing, the government lawyers contended that Judicial Watch was not allowed to pursue any more information. But the judge disagreed, raising a long list of concerns he said need to be resolved.
He cited a report that the Senate Finance and Homeland Security Committees released documents from a Clinton aide, Paul Combetta, indicating he copied almost all of the missing emails. That source, the judge said, has never has been searched by the government in response to Judicial Watch's requests.
"The court thinks Judicial Watch ought to shake this tree," he said. "There is no FOIA exemption for political expedience, nor is there one for bureaucratic incompetence."
Government lawyers insisted Judicial Watch no longer could seek evidence, but the judge said that was nonsense.
He said it must be determined whether or not the State Department "was acting in good faith, and I'll tell you everything they've discovered in this period raises serious questions about what the hell the State Department's doing here."
The more investigations there are into the email scandal, he said, the more questions arise.
"So I won't hold it against Judicial Watch for expanding their initial discovery request now," he said.
"Remember what got us started down this path in the first place," the judge said. "In late 2014 and early 2015, at least some State Department officials knew Secretary Clinton's emails were missing; they knew Judicial Watch didn't know that; they knew the court didn't know that, but the department pressed forward trying to settle this case. So I authorized discovery into whether these settlement efforts amounted to bad faith."
He said that while the government now is arguing there's no need for further investigation, Judicial Watch has discovered that State's Office of Information and Program Services in 2013 launched an inquiry into Clinton's email practices and the office ordered FOIA responders to stop saying there are "no records" responsive to inquiries.
"It appears that by the summer of 2014, State knew a large volume of Clinton's emails had never been searched, potentially violating FOIA and record management obligations. It turns out State had a standing meeting every Wednesday afternoon during the summer of 2014 to discuss Clinton-related FOIA inquiries. Attendees included Secretary Kerry's chief of staff; his deputy chief of staff; the deputy secretary for management and resources; the assistant secretary for legislative affairs; several attorneys; and Patrick Kennedy, the Under Secretary for Management. That's every Wednesday afternoon."
At that time, with so much still under investigation, State tried to settle with Judicial Watch's request for information, he said.
"Indeed, State spent the next three months from November 2014 trying to make this case disappear. They kept doing it even after they came into the possession of Clinton's emails," he said.
The judge continued:
Judicial Watch wants to follow up with the State attorney assigned to this FOIA request to participate in settlement discussions and negotiations. That seems reasonable to me.
State wants to ask the Department official responsible for overseeing FOIA requests more about why he directed his office to stop using "no record located" responses to FOIA requests relating to Clinton's emails if that, in fact, is what happened. I'm curious, too.
They want to ask the current Department FOIA overseer more about what went on in those weekly 2014 meetings. I look forward to hearing what he says.
They want to ask the Justice Department attorney who led the settlement negotiations to divulge when he learned Clinton's emails were missing. He must answer.
He noted it's still uncertain whether Clinton "intentionally attempted to evade FOIA by using a private email."
Lamberth said the investigation is needed "to rule out egregious government misconduct and vindicate the public's faith in the State and Justice Departments."
"That's still my goal today."
The court previously ruled Clinton's email system as "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency."
Since then, because of Judicial Watch's work:
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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