(USA Features) A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of a legal watchdog group seeking to depose former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton regarding emails from her time as head of President Obama’s State Department.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth issued his order in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed more than five years ago by Judicial Watch.
“The court agrees with Judicial Watch — it is time to hear directly from Secretary Clinton,” wrote Lamberth, who was appointed by then-President Ronald Reagan.
In addition, Lamberth also approved of Judicial Watch’s request to depose top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills and a pair of State Department information technology managers who were in charge of Clinton’s email management.
But, Lamberth ruled, Judicial Watch cannot ask Clinton or Mills about the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
“Any further discovery should focus on whether she used a private server to evade [the Freedom of Information Act] and, as a corollary to that, what she understood about State’s records management obligations,” he wrote.
Also, Lamberth approved a subpoena for Google to obtain and turn over email records related to Clinton during her time at the State Department.
“The court is not confident that State currently possesses every Clinton email recovered by the FBI; even years after the FBI investigation, the slow trickle of new emails has yet to be explained,” Judge Lamberth wrote.
For hears, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has said he was certain that not all of Clinton’s emails that can be located have been located and turned over to authorities.
Clinton used a private email server that she hid from officials during her tenure at the State Department, which she had to constantly defend on the 2016 campaign trail.
She was investigated by the FBI for alleged criminal mishandling of classified emails via her unsecured private server, but then-FBI Director James Comey announced in July 2016 that despite evidence agents had discovered, “no reasonable prosecutor” will file charges.
Lamberth, in his ruling, questioned why, years later, Clinton emails continue to be produced by the State Department, including 30 or so that were turned over last last year.
“How did she arrive at her belief that her private serve emails would be preserved by normal State Department processes for email retention?” Lamberth wrote.
“Judicial Watch uncovered the Clinton email scandal and we’re pleased that the court authorized us to depose Mrs. Clinton directly on her email conduct and how it impacted the people’s ‘right to know’ under FOIA,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement after the ruling.
It’s not clear if Clinton will appeal the ruling or, if now, when her deposition will take place.