A United States district judge thwarted an attempt by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch to see what the potential charges would have been had Hillary Clinton been indicted in the Whitewater scandal in the 1990s.
The drafts of the potential indictment were created but never filed and have not been seen by the public. On Tuesday Judge Reggie Walton decided it would stay that way because Clinton’s “substantial privacy interest” outweighed public interest. He also cited grand jury secrecy in making his decision, Politico reported.
“The fact that information about the independent counsel’s investigation and potential indictment of Mrs. Clinton is readily available to the public does not extinguish Mrs. Clinton’s privacy interest,” Walton wrote. “Although an individual’s interests in privacy fade when the information involved already appears on the public record’…’the fact that an event is not wholly private does not mean that an individual has no interest in limiting disclosure or dissemination of [the requested] information,'” Walton said.
Judicial Watch spokesman Chris Farrell expressed incredulity at the judge’s decision.
“It’s difficult to imagine how a person running for the presidency enjoys a form of ‘privacy’ concerning their near-indictment on criminal charges that somehow supersedes the public’s right to know,” Farrell said. “Judicial Watch will continue to fight to make the facts public.”
Walton cited the fact that Clinton was a private citizen at the time of the Whitewater real estate deals to justify his decision.
“While Mrs. Clinton was first lady of the United States at the time of the investigation, she was neither part of a government agency nor a government official when the events that were the subject of the independent counsel’s investigation occurred, which led to the drafting of the proposed indictments,” Judge Walton wrote. “Disclosure of the drafts of the proposed indictment would not shed light on any agency’s performance of its statutory duties, but potentially shed light solely on the character of Mrs. Clinton, independent to her position as a public official, which is not the objective of the FOIA.”
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