This is not good news for Hillary Clinton. A federal judge indicated deposing the embattled Democratic frontrunner may be necessary in the ongoing investigation of her use of a private email account and home-brewed server while Secretary of State.
— Julian Hattem (@jmhattem) May 4, 2016
Julian Hattem reports for The Hill:
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia laid out the ground rules for interviewing multiple State Department officials about the emails, with an eye toward finishing the depositions in the weeks before the party nominating conventions.
Clinton herself may be forced to answer questions under oath, Sullivan said, though she is not yet being forced to take that step.
“Based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary,” Sullivan said in an order on Wednesday. [READ THE ORDER BELOW] Discovery is the formal name for the evidence-gathering process, which includes depositions.
“If plaintiff believes Mrs. Clinton’s testimony is required, it will request permission from the Court at the appropriate time.”
The order, which came in the course of a lawsuit from conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, leaves open the possibility that Clinton will be forced to answer detailed questions on the eve of her formal selection as the Democratic presidential nominee about her creation of the server.
Any deposition would surely roil the presidential race and force her campaign to confront the issue, which has dogged her for a year.
“Her legal team is really going to fight that really hard,” predicted Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who has raised questions about Clinton’s email setup.
“You have to take her deposition in this case to fully understand how it was designed and the whys and the what-fors.”
While leaving the door open to Clinton’s eventual deposition, Sullivan on Wednesday ordered at least six current and former State Department employees to answer questions from Judicial Watch, which has filed multiple lawsuits over the Clinton email case.
That list includes longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, under secretary for management Patrick Kennedy, former executive secretary Stephen Mull and Bryan Pagliano, the IT official believed to be responsible for setting up and maintaining the server.
The judge also ordered the State Department to prepare a formal answer about Clinton’s emails. Donald Reid, a senior security official, may also be asked to answer questions, if Judicial Watch so decides.
It was Judicial Watch’s law suit against the State Department that helped unearth the emails of Clinton aides.
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