A trifecta today, with Russiagate, Obamacare Schadenfreude and Clinton.com. Judge orders more fact-finding in Clinton email case
In a scathing opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said that despite FBI, inspector general and congressional investigations into Clinton’s use of a private account for all her email traffic during her four years as secretary of state, the conservative group Judicial Watch should be permitted to demand documents and additional testimony about the practice.Former FBI Director Comey, fired for cause, came out of his closed session with the House committee complaining that they were still focused on the Clinton emails after refusing to answer many of the questions he was asked, on the advice of FBI lawyers.
Lamberth, who has clashed with Clinton and her aides in cases dating back to her husband’s administration, was unsparing in his assessment of the former secretary’s actions. He blasted Clinton’s email practices as “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”
Lamberth also again expressed concerns that lawyers at the Justice Department and the State Department misled the court when they tried at the end of 2014 to wrap up Judicial Watch’s FOIA suit about Benghazi talking points even though some officials were aware months earlier that Clinton had tens of thousands of emails on a private system and had agreed to turn many of them over to State at its request.
“State played this card close to its chest,” the judge complained. “At best, State’s attempts to pass-off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence. At worst, career employees in the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA and hoodwink this court.”
. . .
“The current Justice Department made things worse,” the judge said, referring to an October hearing in which he initially flatly accused Justice lawyers of lying, then retreated a bit.
In the 11-page order issued on Thursday, Lamberth stopped short of alleging outright dishonesty, but he came close.
“Counsel’s responses strain credulity,” he wrote. “To preserve the Department’s integrity, and to reassure the American people their government remains committed to transparency and the rule of law, this suspicion cannot be allowed to fester.”
“When you read the transcript, you will see we are talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we need to do this at all, but I’m trying to respect the institution and to answer questions in a respectful way,” Comey told reporters. “You’ll see I did that in the transcript.”Yep, because the matter has never been thoroughly explored, in large part to Comey and his henchpersons.