National Security

Watchdog group seeks to question Clinton under oath

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A conservative watchdog organization is asking a federal court to make former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answer questions under oath about the private email server she used while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.

{mosads}Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, is one of six named officials that Judicial Watch asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to interview as part of an ongoing open records lawsuit. In another case, a second federal judge has said that Clinton may be forced to testify, depending on the depositions of her current and former aides.

A federal judge would need to approve the request, and the State Department has previously indicated opposition to the notion of having Clinton testify about her server.

But the action on Monday increases the odds she is forced to discuss the private server under oath, despite her repeated attempts to dismiss the issue.

“Mrs. Clinton’s testimony will help the courts determine whether her email practices thwarted the Freedom of Information Act,” Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, said in a statement.

If Judicial Watch succeeds with its request, Clinton’s testimony could shed light on the email set-up, which has dogged her presidential campaign. Her deposition would loom over the campaign trail and surely be attack fodder for Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee.

Under the terms of the proposed order submitted by Judicial Watch, Clinton would be asked about the “use of email account(s) to conduct official State Department business by Secretary Clinton and other officials and staff in the Office of the Secretary,” as well as the department’s process for searching through and preserving her email cache and any records relating to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The Monday request comes as part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking documents about the Benghazi attack, which left four Americans dead. The litigation has evolved into one of many battles over Clinton’s email setup, which critics allege circumvented the open records law.

In March, Judge Royce Lamberth gave an order opening the door for Judicial Watch to demand depositions in the case, given “evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith.”

Lamberth’s order was the second of its kind as part of an open records lawsuit launched by Judicial Watch concerning Clinton’s email system.

In February, Judge Emmet Sullivan gave the go-ahead order for interviews to take place in a separate but similar case. This month, Sullivan approved Judicial Watch’s plan to interview at least six current and former State Department officials as part of that case, and left the door open for Clinton herself to be deposed at a later date.

On Monday, Judicial Watch asked Lamberth to interview Clinton, as well as her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, policy hand Jacob Sullivan, ex-special assistant Lauren Jiloty, former staffer Monica Hanley and current State Department official Clarence Finney. In addition, the organization asked for an unnamed official to answer questions on behalf of the State Department.

Clinton has insisted that her email server was erected as a matter of convenience, and the campaign has rejected allegations that she intended to avoid federal transparency or open records laws.

In addition to the open records lawsuits, Clinton’s server is also in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation examining whether classified information was mishandled. Several of Clinton’s allies have been interviewed as part of that investigation and the former first lady is expected to answer questions in coming weeks, as the probe comes to a close. 

—This post was updated at 6:42 p.m.

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