As Hillary Clinton awaits word of when she and some of her top aides will be called in for a chat with the FBI, another court case has moved forward demanding transparency and testimony from her State Department staff regarding her email server. Assuming this stands, any of the principal players could be called into court to offer sworn testimony as to the evolution of events which led to sensitive national security information being potentially exposed. In the ruling, the judge cited the possibility of Clinton and her staff acting “in bad faith” with a constantly shifting narrative of what took place and why. (Yahoo News)
A second federal judge has taken the rare step of allowing a group suing for records from Hillary Clinton’s time as U.S. secretary of state to seek sworn testimony from officials, saying there was “evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith.”
The language in Judge Royce Lamberth’s order undercut the Democratic presidential contender’s assertion she was allowed to set up a private email server in her home for her work as the country’s top diplomat and that the arrangement was not particularly unusual.
He described Clinton’s email arrangement as “extraordinary” in his order filed on Tuesday in federal district court in Washington.
Referring to the State Department, Clinton and Clinton’s aides, he said there had been “constantly shifting admissions by the Government and the former government officials.”
Needless to say, this is one more headache that Clinton would no doubt wish to avoid in the middle of a presidential campaign. The press will be all over the testimony and the inferences are fairly easy to predict. In the order, the judge cited the potential of “evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith” as justification for the unusual move of calling in top level witness during discovery while admitting that such testimony is exceedingly rare in Freedom of Information Act cases.
You can expect Clinton’s team to blame the messenger when they get around to responding to this development. Judge Royce Lamberth was appointed by Reagan in 1987 and has been the subject of some controversy over the years. One of his more memorable cases involved issuing an injunction which blocked an executive order by Barack Obama designed to expand stem cell research in a manner involving the destruction of embryos.
In August 2010, Lamberth issued a temporary injunction blocking an executive order by President Barack Obama that expanded stem cell research. He indicated the policy violated a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos, called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Secularist Susan Jacoby complained that his decision was more a reflection of his politics than a rigorous interpretation of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.
That injunction was a temporary move, and a three judge panel from the DC Court of Appeals later overturned Lamberth’s decision, with the Supreme Court refusing to hear an appeal of the case. Still, it established his reputation as a critic of liberal policies and someone who wasn’t hesitant about standing athwart White House executive action. With that as a basis, Clinton and her surrogates will likely write this off as yet another case of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy trying to derail her presidential hopes.
That excuse may not carry much weight after all the negotiations are finished. Each case where Clinton and her staff have to go on record – under oath – talking about her email server would be fair game if and when this case turns “official” at the Justice Department level. Clinton is already facing a rather apathetic response from her base, and the possibility of this mess dragging on through the fall is probably making Bernie Sanders look like an increasingly attractive option to nervous Democratic voters.