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Clinton adversary: 'Reason to doubt' her story on emails

Clinton adversary: 'Reason to doubt' her story on emails
© Greg Nash

The public remains largely in the dark about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE’s use of a private email server while secretary of State, according to the leader of an organization that is suing the Obama administration.

“To be clear, we don’t know anything,” said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, in an interview with The Hill.

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"We have reports as to what went on. But much of what the Clinton operation has put out there we have reason to doubt,” he added during the interview Thursday in his organization’s conference room in Southwest Washington. 

“Some of the things we think of as basic knowledge — where the server was, who ran it, how it was set up, who was on it — we don’t know any of that. In a sense we know it from reading it in the newspapers, but that doesn’t tell you anything.” 

Those claims are at the core of Judicial Watch’s yearlong effort to dig up details about Clinton’s private communications system. The group has for years filed multiple lawsuits seeking documents about the former secretary of State and her top aides, but over the course of the last year those legal challenges have increasingly focused on her email setup. 

The push reached a new milestone this week, when Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia laid out ground rules for six current and former Clinton aides to answer questions under oath about the server. Sullivan has questioned whether the sever arrangement was made in good faith or if there was an eye toward circumventing public disclosure laws. 

Sullivan said Clinton herself could be called upon to provide testimony in the case, if necessary.

“It’s speculative at this point to say whether she needs to answer questions,” Fitton said.

“If everyone came in and said, ‘I don’t know, ask Mrs. Clinton,’ it makes it quite obvious,” he added. “Short of that, that’s where the lawyers have to evaluate what information we were able to glean and do we have enough to legitimately answer with what we have and the court has.

“And if we don’t, that’s when we might ask for Mrs. Clinton’s testimony.”

A second judge, Royce Lamberth, has ordered an evidence-gathering process including depositions, known as discovery, to begin in a separate Judicial Watch case related to Clinton’s email system. The group’s lawyers will have to consider how to move forward on the two separate tracks, Fitton said on Thursday.

The information unearthed in the cases could answer many of the questions that have lingered about Clinton’s email system since it was first revealed in a New York Times story last March. 

The cases are being closely followed and have the potential to shake up the presidential race, given Clinton’s status as the likely Democratic nominee.

Clinton has denied any wrongdoing with the server, but that has done little to dissuade her critics, who accuse her of conspiring to keep information from the public and jeopardizing national secrets.

In addition to the Judicial Watch lawsuits, the FBI is also investigating Clinton’s setup and the possibility that classified information was mishandled.

CNN reported on Thursday that FBI investigators have begun to conduct interviews with Clinton’s aides, including longtime confidante Huma Abedin. Clinton herself is expected to be interviewed by the FBI in coming weeks, according to the report, but so far the bureau has yet to come up with evidence that she willfully violated the law. 

According to Fitton, the FBI probe would not be where it is without his organization’s work.

“I’m convinced that to the degree anyone in the FBI or Justice Department wants to do something, the Judicial Watch litigation and the fact that it is proceeding apace … is helping those who want to get some work done and the investigations complete and maybe prosecutions done.”

News of the FBI interviews broke in the middle of Fitton’s interview with The Hill on Thursday afternoon, which he said is part of a trend of information leaking shortly after every major development in the case. Abedin is one of six people scheduled to give testimony in the Judicial Watch lawsuit.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Fitton said. 

“What happened between the discovery [of the email server] last year and this interview date? We got permission to interview Huma Abedin, or it was pretty clear we were going to get it.”  

It will be months before Judicial Watch has anything to show for its depositions. The process is set to wrap up in late June but is likely to last longer. 

The ultimate goal, according to Fitton, is obtaining the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton said she deleted after handing over the rest to the State Department. Little is known about those deleted emails, which Clinton has claimed deal with personal matters such as her daughter’s wedding and yoga routines. 

“I have no doubt they’re out there,” Fitton said.

“We’re very interested in where those other emails are, because we think the system should have been generally searched and the documents produced subject to the Freedom of Information Act.”

“It doesn’t mean we get everything, but it certainly means we get something.”