Weekly Update: Benghazi Court Victory
AUGUST 11, 2017
Judicial Watch Victory: Court Orders State to Search Benghazi Emails of Clinton Advisors
Judicial Watch / Allied Educational Foundation Stand for Rule of Law on Gerrymandering
Judicial Watch Goes to Supreme Court to Protect Clean Elections
Your Judicial Watch had a major court victory this week in our effort to get accountability in the Obama/Clinton Benghazi scandal.
This week, D.C. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered the State Department “to search the state.gov e-mail accounts of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jacob Sullivan,” former aides of Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. Judge Mehta ordered the State Department to search in those accounts “for records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] March 4, 2015, FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request.”
Of course, a JW FOIA lawsuit first broke open the Clinton email scandal – and Benghazi, too!
Judge Mehta, an Obama appointee, described our Clinton-Benghazi FOIA lawsuit as “a far cry from a typical FOIA case. Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.”
Further, Judge Mehta ruled:
[I]f an e-mail did not involve any state.gov user, the message would have passed through only the Secretary’s private server and, therefore, would be beyond the immediate reach of State. Because of this circumstance, unlike the ordinary case, State could not look solely to its own records systems to adequately respond to [Judicial Watch’s] demand.
[The State Department] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov e-mail server. If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov e-mail address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her state.gov account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an e-mail. Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.
State has offered no assurance that the three record compilations it received [from Secretary Clinton and her aides], taken together, constitute the entirety of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request. Absent such assurance, the court is unconvinced “beyond material doubt” that a search of the state.gov accounts of Abedin, Mills and Sullivan is “unlikely to produce any marginal return.”
Accordingly, the court finds that State has not met its burden of establishing it performed an adequate search in response to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request and orders State to conduct a supplemental search of the state.gov e-mail accounts of Abedin, Mills, and Sullivan.
This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal – and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it – as we approach the attack’s fifth anniversary. It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall. Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?
Judicial Watch asked a federal court to compel the Trump State Department to undertake a thorough search of all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the terrorist attack on Benghazi, including those of Clinton’s closest advisors. We also specifically asked the court to compel the agency to produce all records of communications between Clinton and top aide Jake Sullivan relating to Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Sunday following the 2012 Benghazi massacre.
This long journey began on May 6, 2015, when we filed a lawsuit after the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015, FOIA request seeking all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton relating to the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00692)).
This latest breakthrough made headlines and again focused public attention on the Benghazi outrage. You can see JW attorney Ramona Cotca, who was lead attorney on this case, on Fox News last night discussing the victory.
The State Department has until September 22, 2017, to update the court on the status of the supplemental search and production of additional emails to us. We’ll let you know what we find!
We have joined with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in filing an additional amici curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to convince the high court to reject the arbitrary method of drawing Wisconsin’s electoral districts adopted in Beverly R. Gill, et al. v. William Whitford, et al. (No. 16-1161).
The lower court struck down Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting plan on the grounds that it was an unconstitutional gerrymander. We asked the high court to take up the case and overturn that ruling. We filed an earlier amici brief in this case.
Judicial Watch and AEF argued in our joint brief against the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. That ruling relied in part on the use of a test for gerrymandering known as the “the efficiency gap,” which focuses on a purely hypothetical estimate of what each party “should” win in a “fair” election.
We point out that the test amounts, in practice, to court-ordered proportional representation, and that this will not prevent gerrymandering:
After all, it is not the case that any deviation from the strict proportional representation of voters by party is suspicious.
[P]roportional representation has nothing to do with preventing gerrymandering. Deviations from proportional representation, however defined, may occur for any number of reasons other than gerrymandering, including the political views or missteps or personal qualities of the candidates of one of the parties. The absence of proportional representation does not uniquely identify gerrymanders. In any event, proportional representation is not required by the Constitution.
There is a massive leftwing effort to oppose gerrymandering, led by Obama’s corrupt Attorney General Eric Holder. Rather than make sensible constitutional arguments regarding partisan gerrymandering, leftists want the courts to overturn district lines if not enough Democrats win. The Supreme Court will now have a chance to rule that Democrats – or any political party – will not have a constitutional right to win elections.
(The Allied Educational Foundation is a charitable and educational foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life through education. In furtherance of that goal, the Foundation has engaged in a number of projects, which include, but are not limited to, educational and health conferences domestically and abroad. AEF has partnered frequently with Judicial Watch to fight government and judicial corruption and to promote a return to ethics and morality in the nation’s public life.)
Judicial Watch is in the middle of an election integrity fight before the Supreme Court. We filed an amicus curiae brief asking the court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which had ruled that Ohio’s process for cleaning voter rolls was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) (Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v. Philip Randolph Institute, et al. (No. 16-980)).
According to our brief, “Ohio’s Supplemental Process allows the sending of a statutory confirmation notice to any registrant who has not had any voting-related activity for two years. After that, the registrant may be removed from the rolls if there is no response or further activity for two general federal elections.” The Sixth Circuit concluded that this amounted to removing a voter for failing to vote, which is forbidden by federal law.
In our brief we noted that “the failure to vote only leads to the sending of a notice. Subsequent removal is due to the failure to respond to that notice for a period of time that may extend up to four years. The Sixth Circuit’s attempt to argue otherwise relies on a misuse of the plain language of the NVRA.”
Our amicus brief points out that the Sixth Circuit’s decision undermines a 2014 settlement agreement between Judicial Watch and Ohio, which required Ohio to contact inactive voters every year via a Supplemental Mailing to confirm they had not moved or died, as one of many steps to fulfill Ohio’s obligations under the NVRA to maintain the integrity of its voter list.
We “never would have agreed to the settlement agreement with Ohio and dismissed its lawsuit if [we] believed the Supplemental Mailing was legally impermissible. If the Sixth Circuit’s ruling in this case is allowed to stand, this key provision of the settlement agreement could be voided. This would undermine Judicial Watch’s extensive efforts to protect the integrity of elections for its Ohio members.”
We also noted how “Congress, the Justice Department and 19 states have concluded that using the failure to vote as a basis for sending confirmation notices or taking other actions to remove voters is fully consistent with the NVRA.”
There is no question about the importance of counting only the votes of eligible voters. The Supreme Court should reverse the Sixth Circuit decision and allow Ohio to continue to work toward clean and fair elections.
Our own Robert Popper, director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project, has also joined with five other former attorneys of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to file an amicus curiae brief in the Husted case. In their brief, Popper and his associates argue:
First, the Sixth Circuit’s interpretation of the NVRA conflicts with its text, structure, and history. Amici have long interpreted the statute oppositely, and they helped the Justice Department negotiate settlements that would be illegal under the Sixth Circuit’s view. [Emphasis added.] Second, the Sixth Circuit’s decision deprives Ohio and other jurisdictions of an important means to combat bloated voter rolls, a real and pressing threat to the integrity of federal elections.
Between this and our other Election Integrity Project efforts to force states across the nation to clean election rolls, your JW is the tip of the spear against voter fraud and for clean elections.
Until next week…