Judicial Watch: Federal Court Reopens State Department FOIA Lawsuit Because of “Newly Discovered Evidence” of Clinton Records
MAY 11, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that a U.S. District Court reopened a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking documents regarding the State Department’s production and dissemination of an advertisement intended to air in Pakistan entitled “A Message from the President of the United States Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:12-cv-02034)). U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton issued the ruling on Friday, May 8, in response to a joint motion by Judicial Watch and the State Department.
In its joint motion, Judicial Watch and the State Department asked that the lawsuit be reopened under a federal court rule allowing a case to be reopened due to “newly discovered evidence”:
In March 2015, media sources reported that former Secretary Clinton, and possibly other senior State Department officials, used non-“state.gov” email account to conduct government business. Thereafter, [Judicial Watch] informed the Department that based on this information, which was previously unknown to [Judicial Watch], it would seek to reopen the case.
Judicial Watch filed suit in December 2012, after the State Department failed to respond to a September 24, 2012, FOIA request for all records concerning the advertisement produced by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad intended to air in Pakistan. The advertisement was seen as an apology for the Internet video that President Obama, then-Secretary of State Clinton, and other administration officials falsely blamed for inspiring “spontaneous demonstrations” resulting in the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya.
In November 2014, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss the suit based in part upon the State Department’s claim that its search “of the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar have been completed and have resulted in the retrieval of no documents responsive to your request.”
Judicial Watch is aware of no precedent of another FOIA lawsuit being reopened by a federal court.
Now that the lawsuit is reopened, the State Department has promised to search the email records allegedly turned over by Clinton to the State Department last year.
Recently, Judicial Watch filed seven new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the State Department in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain the release of documents about the Clinton email scandal, including emails of her top aide Huma Abedin and records about the Benghazi and Clinton Foundation scandals. Judicial Watch also filed a lawsuit for records on Hillary Clinton’s use of an iPad and iPhone.
There are approximately 18 other lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, as well as about 160 Judicial Watch FOIA requests that could be affected by Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. In Judicial Watch’s various FOIA lawsuits, lawyers for Judicial Watch have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered, and searched. Judicial Watch’s litigation against the State Department has already exposed key documents about both the Benghazi and Clinton cash scandals.
Judicial Watch is awaiting word from another court on a separate bid to reopen a FOIA lawsuit over records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s controversial work arrangements. Judicial Watch is asking the court to reopen a case under a rule 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 did not oppose this request.)
“The decision by a federal judge to reopen our Clinton-Benghazi lawsuit is an extraordinary legal development that spells trouble for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There is no precedent for Hillary Clinton’s stealing, hiding, and destroying State Department records. Rather than defend its and Hillary Clinton’s fraud on the courts overseeing this and other FOIA lawsuits, the State Department stood down and joined Judicial Watch in asking for the lawsuit to be reopened. The Clinton machine may run rings around Congress and much of the media, but this cover-up effort won’t work as well on federal judges in Judicial Watch’s two dozen lawsuits.”