On November 15, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that Hillary Clinton has 30 days to answer under oath two more questions about her illegal private email server during her term as Secretary of State under former president Barack Obama.
A federal court hearing held the day before, considered a motion to force both Clinton and John Bentel, Director of Information Resource Management of the Executive Secretariat, to provide further testimony about the alleged email server crimes.
The motion made by the conservative legal oversight group Judicial Watch also sought to publicize the videotaped recordings of the depositions made by Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, other State Department officials, and top Clinton aides.
The case arose from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit challenging the employment status of longtime Clinton aide and confidante Huma Abedin.
On August 15, 2016, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Grassley, “raised questions Monday about why a top aide to Hillary Clinton was permitted to hold a special employment waiver far longer than federal law permits.”
The woman who has tentative plans to run again for Commander-in-Chief of the United States has a failing memory: while under oath on Oct. 13, 2016, Clinton could “not recall” details about 20 out of 25 questions posed by Judicial Watch. The interrogation centered around Hillary’s use of a private “.com” domain for state business rather than the official “.gov” government domain designation for use by federal websites and email systems.
While under oath, Bentel pled his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer on the grounds it might incriminate him 87 times. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…”
- Describe the creation the clintonemail.com system, including who decided to create the system
- Provide the date it was decided to create the system
- Explain why the private email system was created
- Identify who set it up
- Give the date when it became operational
Judicial Watch argued that Clinton “failed to provide sufficient reasons for refusing to answer them, and the limited reasons she provides do not warrant sustaining her objections.”
Judge Sullivan announced his decision orally from the bench instead of taking the time to issue a written ruling. Some observers interpret this action as an indication of just how serious Sullivan is taking this matter.
Clinton served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 until 2013 when she stepped down in order to campaign for the 2016 presidential nomination, which she won after Bernie Sanders withdrew his candidacy – despite broad Democratic voter approval.
In March 2015, the New York Times ran the first news article revealing the existence and misuse of her private clintonemail.com email server:
“Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.”
Since then, Clinton has been partially compliant with the inquiry by surrendering thousands of emails she was willing to enter into the public record. However, she held back thousands more, saying they were of a personal nature. According to Clinton, the State Department received “90-95%” of the emails from her private server.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton echoed what many Americans believe:
“The public and the media have a right to a full accounting from top officials of the Clinton State Department. In lieu of a much-needed, new and untainted investigation by the FBI, the continued work of Judicial Watch in the courts is clearly the only hope of bringing sunlight into the Clinton email issue and completing the public record.”
In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, the FBI was tasked with investigating the matter. Days before the election, former FBI Director James Comey announced that Clinton and her principal aides behaved “extremely carelessly” but with no intention to break the law.
Comey advised not filing formal charges against Clinton, who went on to lose the 2016 election to President Donald Trump. Comey’s decision prompted a congressional uproar since evidence had come to light that “dozens of highly sensitive national security documents were transmitted over Clinton’s secret email system.”
Many observers agree with Fitton that, “It is shameful that Judicial Watch attorneys must continue to battle the State and Justice Departments, which still defend Hillary Clinton, for basic answers to our questions about Clinton’s email misconduct.”
Meanwhile, Clinton is attempting to steer attention away from herself by urging her fellow Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the alleged use of personal emails by President Trump’s daughter Ivanka during her post-election transition into the Trump administration.
On Nov. 19, Philippe Reines tweeted this message regarding White House chief of staff John Kelly, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner:
“John Kelly must be compelled to explain to Congress why Ivanka & Jared’s security clearances were granted on a permanent basis despite their email practices being known at that time to the White House as running afoul of security requirements.”
Trump’s legal team maintain that none of Ivanka Trump’s emails contained classified information, they were archived properly, and Trump didn’t attempt to delete any of them. Hillary Clinton can make none of these claims about how she used her private email server for state business.
The 30-day clock is ticking for Clinton, who could face contempt of court charges if she fails to follow the judicial order or felony charges if she bears false testimony (lies under oath).