JUNE 03, 2016
Judicial Watch has released the deposition transcript of Cheryl D. Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff throughout her four years as secretary of state. Though instructed by her attorney not to answer many questions, the transcript is available here. Mills was deposed last week as part of the discovery granted to Judicial Watch by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecured, non-government email system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)). Last week, Judge Sullivan ordered that all deposition transcripts be made publicly available while, for now, sealing video/audio recordings of the depositions.
Mills’ testimony covered Clinton’s use of emails; whether FOIA searches were done of Clinton emails, information about the set-up of the Clinton email server; Mills’ communication with Clinton email witness Bryan Pagliano; Mills’ involvement in prior Clinton email controversies; and the handling of politically sensitive FOIA responses to the secretary’s office.
Though Mills’ attorneys directed her not to answer many questions, Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Cotca did an excellent job of questioning Mills despite repeated objections and evasive responses from the witness. Mills had three personal attorneys with her, and four attorneys from the Justice and State Departments were also present. Mills’ attorney instructed her client not to answer 15 separate lines of questioning posed by Judicial Watch’s lawyers. In fact, the 162-page transcript contains 283 instances of the words “object” and “objection,” 38 instances of “I don’t recall” and 183 instances of “I don’t know.” Ms. Mills’ testimony was met with widespread skepticism. As Kim Strassel pointed out in The Wall Street Journal:
Ms. Mills can barely recall any conversation with anyone while at the State Department about a server, or email, or anything. She is clueless or mum on why the server came to be or who knew about it, or how it worked.
Notably, the Mills team spends much of the interview suggesting she had no real knowledge of the system while on the federal payroll. Why does the timing matter? Because Ms. Mills began working as a private lawyer for Mrs. Clinton after they left government. Anything she learned at that point is therefore protected by attorney-client privilege. Which is convenient.
In fact, I just came back from today’s deposition by our legal team of Amb. Stephen Mull, a former executive administrative official under Clinton. Mull’s testimony transcript should be released on Monday. Despite his being the responsible supervising official in Clinton’s office for document retention and FOIA responses, Amb. Mull claims not to have known anything about her email system. Even today, he refused to cast “judgment” (as he put it) on whether Clinton used her non-State.gov email account to conduct government business.
Former State IT employee Bryan Pagliano was scheduled to testify on Monday, June 6. (More on this below). A State Department official designated by the agency (30(b)(6)) will testify on June 9. Huma Abedin is scheduled to testify on June 28 and top State Department official Patrick Kennedy on June 29.
To see more JW analysis of the Mills testimony, you can go over to Fox News, which had JW representatives on here, here, and here. Also The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal” covered the story here.
At 5:22 Friday evening, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued a court order postponing the deposition of Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton State Department IT official who reportedly provided support for the Clinton email system, “until further order of the Court:”
MINUTE ORDER. The deposition of non-party Bryan Pagliano is hereby postponed until further order of the Court. Counsel for Mr. Pagliano shall file a Memorandum of Law addressing the legal authority upon which Mr. Pagliano relies to assert his Fifth Amendment rights in this civil proceeding, including requisite details pertaining to the scope of Mr. Pagliano’s reported immunity agreement with the Government. Mr. Pagliano’s Memorandum of Law, along with a copy of his reported immunity agreement, shall be filed no later than Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. The parties are ordered to file responsive memoranda of law no later than Friday, June 10, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. Mr. Pagliano shall file a reply memorandum no later than Monday, June 13, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on June 3, 2016.
Pagliano had been scheduled to testify Monday as part of Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery.
In last minute court filings this week in federal court (here and here), his lawyers announced that he would be asserting his Fifth Amendment rights in answer to every question from Judicial Watch attorneys. In addition, Pagliano wants no audio or video recording of this testimony. We have opposed this effort to limit the record before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, the federal court judge who granted Judicial Watch the right to depose Pagliano. As our attorneys argued to the court:
Mr. Pagliano asserts that there is no proper reason to videotape the deposition as he intends to assert his rights under the Fifth Amendment. On the contrary, the video will be helpful to the Court in assessing the demeanor and credibility of Mr. Pagliano if and when he chooses to assert the Fifth Amendment.
You may have seen the massive public interest in this new development. As CBS News pointed out in story headlined, “Clinton staffer pleads the Fifth after Clinton says she is “delighted” that he would cooperate”:
Although the former staffer was granted immunity from prosecution in the criminal investigation of Sec. Clinton’s email server earlier this year, Pagliano previously agreed to cooperate with the FBI in its investigation. During Clinton’s appearance on Face the Nation on March 6, 2016, Clinton told John Dickerson that she was “delighted” that Pagliano had agreed to cooperate.
“I’m delighted that he has agreed to cooperate, as everyone else has. And I think that we will be moving toward a resolution of this,” the Democratic frontrunner stated.
Let me just say how honored I am to be working with such an able group of attorneys, investigators, and our other hard-working staff at JW. You can see that our team is managing public interest litigation that has extraordinary public interest. For all this work, we are attacked by the Clinton machine and its allies. But we won’t be deterred from our court-ordered fact finding. As The New York Post editorialized, Judicial Watch is “the watchdog that has driven most of the key revelations about Clinton’s email transgressions.”
The Obama administration is a menace to the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty. A strong statement but, arguably, a charitable one in light of today’s exclusive report on the border chaos from our Corruption Chronicles blog:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly transporting illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to Phoenix and releasing them without proper processing or issuing court appearance documents, Border Patrol sources tell Judicial Watch. The government classifies them as Other Than Mexican (OTM) and this week around 35 were transferred 116 miles north from Tucson to a Phoenix bus station where they went their separate way. Judicial Watch was present when one of the white vans carrying a group of OTMs arrived at the Phoenix Greyhound station on Buckeye Road.
(The pictures are available here.)
The OTMs are from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and Border Patrol officials say this week’s batch was in custody for a couple of days and ordered to call family members in the U.S. so they could purchase a bus ticket for their upcoming trip from Phoenix. Authorities didn’t bother checking the identity of the U.S. relatives or if they’re in the country legally, according to a Border Patrol official directly involved in the matter. American taxpayers pick up the fare for those who claim to have a “credible fear,” Border Patrol sources told JW. None of the OTMs were issued official court appearance documents, but were told to “promise” they’d show up for a hearing when notified, said federal agents with firsthand knowledge of the operation.
A security company contracted by the U.S. government is driving the OTMs from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector where they were in custody to Phoenix, sources said. The firm is called G4S and claims to be the world’s leading security solutions group with operations in more than 100 countries and 610,000 employees. G4S has more than 50,000 employees in the U.S. and its domestic headquarters is in Jupiter, Florida. Judicial Watch is filing a number of public records requests to get more information involving the arrangement between G4S and the government, specifically the transport of illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to other parts of the country. The photo accompanying this story shows the uniformed G4S guard that transported the OTMs this week from Tucson to Phoenix.
Outraged Border Patrol agents and supervisors on the front lines say illegal immigrants are being released in droves because there’s no room to keep them in detention. “They’re telling us to put them on a bus and let them go,” said one law enforcement official in Arizona. “Just move those bodies across the country.” Officially, DHS denies this is occurring and, in fact, earlier this year U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske blasted Border Patrol union officials for denouncing this dangerous catch-and-release policy. Kerlikowske’s scolding came in response to the congressional testimony of Bandon Judd, chief of the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents line agents. Judd told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee that illegal immigrants without serious criminal convictions can be released immediately and disappear into the shadows. Kerlikowske shot back, telling a separate congressional committee: “I would not stand by if the Border Patrol was — releasing people without going through all of the formalities.”
Yet, that’s exactly what’s occurring. This report, part of an ongoing Judicial Watch investigation into the security risks along the southern border, features only a snippet of a much broader crisis in which illegal aliens are being released and vanishing into unsuspecting American communities. The Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest addressed this issue just a few weeks ago in a hearing called Declining Deportations and Increasing Criminal Alien Releases – The Lawless Immigration Policies of the Obama Administration. Judd, the Border Patrol Union chief, delivered alarming figures at the hearing. He estimated that about 80% of apprehended illegal immigrants are released into the United States. This includes unaccompanied minors who are escorted to their final destination, family units and those who claim to have a credible fear of persecution in their native country. Single males that aren’t actually seen crossing into the U.S. by Border Patrol agents are released if they claim to have been in the country since 2014, Judd added.
The rule of law has collapsed on our border and the Obama administration, along with a do-nothing Congress run by Republicans, is responsible for it. Innocent Americans, taxpayers, the victims of human trafficking, and our nation’s sovereignty all suffer as a result. Through our investigations, lawsuits, and independent journalism, your Judicial Watch will continue to stand for the rule of law and for honest Americans who want the government to enforce the law, not to subvert the law.