Judicial Watch released the full transcript of a 7-hour deposition of Cheryl Mills on Tuesday. The actual deposition took place in Washington D.C. last Friday. The transcript puts to rest any idea that lawyers for the government acting on Mills’ behalf were happy to participate in the process. As Politico puts it in their headline, lawyers clashed:
Mills’ attorney, Beth Wilkinson, objected to a variety of questions that she said intruded on Clinton’s attorney-client privilege by asking about Mills work for Clinton as a private lawyer after serving for nearly four years as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department.
Wilkinson and a State Department lawyer also objected that many of the questions asked by an attorney for Judicial Watch went beyond the areas permitted by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who authorized fact-finding highly unusual in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
I didn’t count the number of objections made by Beth Wilkinson but, having read about 1/2 of the transcript, she seemed to object to every 2nd or 3rd question. Initially, she would explain, in some detail, why she was objecting. Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Costa asked Wilkinson to stop that saying she was “coaching the witness during the deposition.” Wilkinson disputed that characterization but agreed to ask Mills to leave the room if she was going to discuss reasons for her objections. All the responses in bold are Mills’ answers. Questions are coming from Ms. Cotca:
With that agreed, it wasn’t long before Mills was being asked to leave the room so Costa and Wilkinson could continue to argue about the scope of the deposition.
What followed was a debate over whether Mills could answer a question about who she spoke to about Clinton’s email setup once she learned about it. Eventually the lawyers seemed to settle into a pattern where Wilkinson would object to much of what Costa was asking and Costa would proceed to get an answer anyway unless Wilkinson specifically forbade her to answer. Occasionally, Wilkinson would do so. One of the first instances was a discussion over Mills’ own state.gov email account, specifically how she got it.
The gist of Mills’ answers was that she was aware from early 2009 that Clinton was using a private email account, however she claims not to have learned about the private server until after Clinton left office. That timeline is important because after Clinton left office, Mills once again became her attorney and any conversations she had about the server become privileged attorney-client communications. That means she doesn’t have to discuss anything she learned because she only learned it as Hillary’s lawyer. Mills mostly stuck to that story though she did seem to acknowledge she might possibly have spoken to Platte River Networks:
In keeping with her statements that she did not know about the server, Mills also said all of her knowledge of Bryan Pagliano’s activity (Clinton’s private IT guy) was something she only learned about later as Clinton’s attorney. Asked if she ever interacted with Pagliano at State, Mills said she had but not about the email system:
Finally, the deposition got to the topic that was at the core of the case, Cotca asked about an FOIA request for Clinton’s email accounts. Back in January the State Department IG faulted the Department for failing to properly respond to an FOIA request from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW asked the Department for any and all email accounts associated with Clinton. Mills was made aware of the request by email and asked people to follow up on it. When asked about it in her deposition, Mills claimed not to remember much of anything:
After looking for Clinton’s email without referencing or searching her private server, the Department responded to CREW’s FOIA request saying, “No records responsive to your request were located.”