Federal judge issue scathing rebuke to State, Justice Depts. over Clinton emails

  • 24 December 2018
  • NormanL

Largely overlooked in the news flow was a story about Hillary Clinton's emails. A federal judge ruled the State and Justice Departments must meet with the government watchdog group Judicial Watch to determine whether Clinton's infamous private email server was an intential attempt to violate federal transparency laws, and much more:

Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Justice and State departments to meet with the plaintiffs’ attorneys to discuss next steps in determining whether Obama administration first-term Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server was an “intentional attempt to evade” the Freedom of Information Act. They will also review whether State’s attempts to settle the Judicial Watch document-request case in 2014-2015 regarding the deaths of four Americans at the hands of terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, “amounted to bad faith,” and whether State had adequately searched its files for the legal group’s requested documents.

Lamberth, an appointee of President Reagan, used tough language in requiring that the two departments respond within 10 days on requests that go back to the Obama administration, saying the agencies’ approach “smacks of outrageous misconduct” as well as “negligence borne of incompetence.” The judge suggested the possibility that “career employees in the State and Justice departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA and hoodwink this court.”

It's never a good idea to try and pull a fast one on a federal judge.

Faced with “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency, the State and Justice departments fell far short,” the judge wrote. “So far short, that the Court questions even now whether they are acting in good faith,” he continued, saying the new action is required by the court “to see if it can rule out egregious government misconduct and vindicate the public’s faith in the State and Justice departments.”

Lamberth added that “The Court takes no pleasure questioning the intentions of the nation’s most august executive departments. But it still remains unknown whether Clinton used a private email server to duck FOIA requests.”

The State Department said it takes its FOIA responsibilities seriosuly, and is "reviewing the ruling." The Justice Department had no comment.