JULY 31, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the U.S. State Department to request that Hillary Clinton and her top aides confirm, under penalty of perjury, that they have produced all government records in their possession, return any other government records immediately, and describe their use of Hillary Clinton’s email server to conduct government business. The court issued the ruling late today after holding a status hearing in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information lawsuit that sought records about Huma Abedin, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)). The lawsuit reopened last month because of revelations about Hillary Clinton’s email records.
The text of Judge Sullivan’s minute order, which was issued at 5:46 pm:
As agreed by the parties at the July 31, 2015 status hearing, the Government shall produce a copy of the letters sent by the State Department to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Ms. Huma Abedin and Ms. Cheryl Mills regarding the collection of government records in their possession. These communications shall be posted on the docket forthwith. The Government has also agreed to share with Plaintiff’s counsel the responses sent by Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills. These communications shall also be posted on the docket forthwith. In addition, as related to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests in this case, the Government is HEREBY ORDERED to: (1) identify any and all servers, accounts, hard drives, or other devices currently in the possession or control of the State Department or otherwise that may contain responsive information; (2) request that the above named individuals confirm, under penalty of perjury, that they have produced all responsive information that was or is in their possession as a result of their employment at the State Department. If all such information has not yet been produced, the Government shall request the above named individuals produce the information forthwith; and (3) request that the above named individuals describe, under penalty of perjury, the extent to which Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills used Mrs. Clinton’s email server to conduct official government business. The Government shall inform the Court of the status of its compliance with this Order no later than August 7, 2015, including any response received from Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on July 31, 2015.
“This blockbuster ruling is the most significant legal development to date in the ongoing Clinton email scandal. Hillary Clinton will now have to answer, under penalty of perjury, to a federal court about the separate email server she and her aides used to avoid accountability to the American people,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “This court action shows that the rule of law and public’s right to know will no longer take a back seat to politics. Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration that is covering for her are not above the law.”
Judge Sullivan ruled on June 19 that the “changed circumstances” of the discovery that Hillary Clinton and members of her State Department staff used secret email accounts to conduct government business warranted “reopening” the lawsuit.
In asking Judge Sullivan to reopen the lawsuit, Judicial Watch cited a federal court rule (Rule 60(b)(3)) that allows a party to reopen a case due to “fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party:”
The State Department had an obligation under the Federal Records Act to properly preserve, maintain, and make available for retrieval records of its official functions. In fact, it is the obligation of the head of every federal agency to do so. Secretary Clinton plainly violated her own legal obligations. Doing so was misconduct.
The State Department originally agreed with Judicial Watch’s request but later changed its mind and asked the Court to reopen the lawsuit because of “newly discovered evidence.” Judge Sullivan simply reopened the case, rather than “spilling ink” on whether Hillary Clinton and the State Department committed fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct.
Huma Abedin left the State Department in February 2013, and in May 2013, Politico reported that, since June 2012, she had been double-dipping, working as a consultant to outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State. Abedin’s outside clients included Teneo, a strategic consulting firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. According to Fox News, Abedin earned $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, in addition to her $135,000 SGE compensation.
Teneo describes its activities as providing “the leaders of the world’s most respected companies, nonprofit institutions and governments with a full suite of advisory solutions.” [Emphasis added] Outside of the U.S., it maintains offices in Dubai, London, Dublin, Hong Kong, Brussels, Washington, and Beijing. Teneo was also the subject of various investigative reports, including by the New York Times, which raise questions about its relationship with the Clinton Foundation.
In February 2014, the State Department assured Judicial Watch that it had searched the Office of the Executive Secretary, which would have included the offices of the Secretary of State and top staff. Relying upon the State Department’s misrepresentation that the agency conducted a reasonable search, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss its lawsuit on March 14, 2014.
This is the second Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit that had been reopened because of the revelations Hillary Clinton’s email system. Judicial Watch is aware of no prior instances of federal courts reopening Freedom of Information lawsuits. Judicial Watch is litigating nearly 20 separate federal lawsuits concerning Hillary Clinton’s email records.