The 2020 election may almost be here, but the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails isn’t over.
A judge ordered that the failed presidential candidate be deposed about her mail server in a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has pursued her emails for years.
This development marks the first time that Clinton has been ordered to answer questions in person and under oath about emails relating to the 2012 Benghazi attack, according to The Hill.
“As extensive as the existing record is, it does not sufficiently explain Secretary Clinton’s state of mind when she decided it would be an acceptable practice to set up and use a private server to conduct State Department business,” Judge Royce Lamberth wrote. “Simply put, her responses left many more questions than answers.”
The controversy over Clinton’s emails reached new heights weeks before the 2016 election when then-FBI director James Comey announced that new records relevant to the investigation had been discovered. The FBI ultimately did not recommend charging Clinton with any wrongdoing, but the former secretary of State has blamed the controversy for her election loss to Donald Trump.
It turns out that losing the election may have been the least of her headaches. Judge Lamberth, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, said that the written answers previously provided by Clinton about her use of a private email server for government business are inadequate and that she must answer lingering questions under oath.
Judicial Watch, which sued the State Department in 2014, has been trying to find out whether Clinton intentionally used a private email server to evade requests made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, whether the State Department acted in bad faith by trying to settle the group’s FOIA lawsuit, and whether the State Department’s records search was adequate. Judge Lambert sided with the watchdog group, noting that a continuous drip of State Department emails raised unexplained questions about its response to records requests.
“Even years after the FBI investigation, the slow trickle of new emails has yet to be explained,” the judge added.
Judge Lamberth also said that Clinton aide Cheryl Mills should be deposed and that both could be questioned about the State Department’s “knowledge of the existence of any emails, documents, or text messages related to the Benghazi attack,” but not about the State Department’s controversial handling of the attack. Clinton has long been blamed for bungling the Obama administration’s response to the deadly seize the U.S. embassy in Libya, which left four Americans dead.
Critics of Clinton have also pointed to the email controversy as an example of her corruption, and President Donald Trump has continued to raise it as an issue years after defeating Clinton in the 2016 election. Lamberth said that Clinton must explain what she believed the State Department knew about her private email server and how it planned to handle her records, among other things.
“And why did she think that using a private server to conduct State Department business was permissible under the law in the first place?” Lamberth asked.
Trump often retweets statements made by Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, who has spearheaded a number of cases of relevance to the administration, including litigation involving Clinton’s emails, Russiagate, and more. Fitton’s group has also initiated legal action seeking information about the Ukraine whistleblower and Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden sat.