(Washington, DC) – Following up on revelations of the secret email accounts created by Hillary Clinton and other top State Department officials, Judicial Watch announced that it has asked a federal court to reopen a closed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case that sought records about Huma Abedin, who had been Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary State Hillary Clinton (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit sought information about Huma Abedin, who was Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations from January 22, 2009, to June 2, 2012. She then became a senior advisor in the same office and was classified as a special government employee authorized to represent individual clients and engage in outside employment. Ms. Abedin held this special position until February 15, 2013.
By letter, on February 12, 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.
Judicial Watch filed a Motion for Relief and Request for Hearing today in Washington, D.C., with U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan:
Because the FOIA request at issue in this litigation included communications of Secretary Clinton and Ms. Abedin, Judicial Watch seeks to reopen this litigation to remedy the Department’s failure to retain, records-manage, and search for these records. The State Department should be required to search the 55,000 pages of records returned by Secretary Clinton, conduct additional, broader searches for responsive records that may not have been captured by earlier searches, and otherwise remedy any spoliation.
Judicial Watch is seeking to reopen this lawsuit under 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.
Judicial Watch alleges that it is “incomprehensible” that the State Department did not know that its “searches” did not capture emails of Hillary Clinton and other top State officials:
Despite knowing that the emails of Secretary Clinton and likely the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials were not searched, the State Department represented to Judicial Watch that the records of the Executive Secretariat had been searched. At no point did the State Department inform Judicial Watch that the Secretary’s emails and the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials could not be searched. These were misrepresentations.
Judicial Watch relied upon the State Department’s misrepresentation that it conducted a search of the Office of the Executive Secretariat [which would have included emails of Hillary Clinton’s and other top State officials]. It was lead to believe that the State Department’s search was proper. It now knows it was not. Had Judicial Watch known that the State Department’s search excluded Secretary Clinton’s emails and the emails of Ms. Abedin and other high level officials, Judicial Watch would not have stipulated to the dismissal of this case…
“Hillary Clinton’s misconduct and the resulting fraud by the State Department disrupted and ended our federal FOIA lawsuit about Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest political associates,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration concealed records and lied to obstruct a federal court and Judicial Watch from finding out about the secret emails. Time is of the essence. Immediate court action is imperative to retrieve, recover and secure these public records from Mrs. Clinton.”
Judicial Watch has upwards of 20 pending and dismissed lawsuits for records that may have been impacted by the Clinton email issue. Additional requests for court relief are planned.
Huma Abedin left the State Department in February 2013, and in May 2013, Politico broke the story that, since June 2012, she had been working as a “special government employee” (SGE), a consultant position allowing her to represent outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State. While working as a SGE, 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.
While Abedin has failed to disclose the exact nature of her work on behalf of Teneo, the firm 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.
The Associated Press also recently filed suit for copies of Clinton’s documents concerning “her department’s decision to grant a special position to longtime aide Huma Abedin.”