DC appeals court hears arguments in Hillary Clinton email case

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is back on the hot seat.

After a lower court ruled against Clinton, saying she must finally testify about her use of a private email server for confidential communications, a federal appeals court heard arguments last week from the former secretary of State’s lawyers, who say there’s no good reason Clinton must deliver an in-person deposition, according to the Washington Examiner.

What’s going on?

The current case against Clinton stems from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that, according to the Examiner, is currently pursuing depositions from both Clinton and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff.

The depositions, Judicial Watch argues, are necessary to determine whether Clinton used her private email server to avoid FOIA requests and whether the State Department conducted a thorough search for the relevant emails.

A lower court had ruled earlier that both Clinton and Mills must participate in the depositions. The pair’s legal team, however, has asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a writ of mandamus, “which would instruct the lower court to change its ruling,” according to the Examiner.

Pressed by a judge to explain the reasoning behind the writ of mandamus petition, Clinton and Mills attorney David Kendall alleged that Judicial Watch’s real goal is to merely harass his clients, the Examiner reported. A final decision by the appeals court is expected in the coming weeks.

Looking back

According to CNBC, the Clinton email controversy goes all the way back to March 2015, when The New York Times reported that Clinton, as secretary of State, had used a private email server for confidential communications, violating government protocol.

During a subsequent investigation, Clinton and her staff allegedly sifted through her emails to determine which ought to be handed over to the State Department and which ought to be labeled “personal.”

A few months later, the State Department and Office of Director of National Intelligence got involved. After looking through a sample of emails, they determined that Clinton’s messages, many of which contained classified information, should “never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” CNBC reported.

This led to the now-infamous FBI probe, which ended with former FBI Director James Comey announcing that although Clinton was “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information, she committed no crime. But that didn’t really end the matter. Rather, emails keep popping up — and that is one of the reasons Judicial Watch has gotten involved.

According to Politico, the Trump Justice Department, for its part, has said it doesn’t support Clinton’s recent petition.

“We take very seriously the decision about when to come to this court and ask the court to issue the extraordinary writ of mandamus,” Justice Department attorney Mark Freeman said, according to Politico, “and we chose, in the interests of the executive branch, balancing the pros and cons, not to do so here.”

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