During a hearing last Friday, a federal judge slammed Obama-era State Department officials for lying to him and playing “word games.”
Four years ago the watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the State Department demanding access to all documents concerning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 Benghazi terror attack.
Department officials promptly requested the suit be dismissed on the grounds that they had already found and dispersed all related documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth refused the request at the time, and speaking Friday, he expressed satisfaction with his decision on the basis that it’s since become clear that the officials had made “false statements.”
NEW: In a hearing with JW & DOJ, a federal judge criticized the State Dept: “The information I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the [Clinton email] search and… what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system.” (1/5)https://t.co/fQBP01vEuH
— Judicial Watch 🔎 (@JudicialWatch) October 17, 2018
This clarity was provided by a report released by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General. It was through this report that he learned that Clinton’s aide Cheryl Mills had been granted immunity by the Justice Department and even allowed to sit with Clinton when the FBI interviewed the former secretary of state in 2016.
“I had myself found that Cheryl Mills had committed perjury and lied under oath in a published opinion I had issued in a Judicial Watch case where I found her unworthy of belief, and I was quite shocked to find out she had been given immunity in — by the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case,” he said Friday.
“So I did not know that until I read the IG report and learned that and that she had accompanied the Secretary to her interview.”
He didn’t know that because State Department officials never told him. Nor did they inform him at the time that Clinton had used a private email address on a personal server to handle department business. They also never let him know that when they searched for relevant documents to provide to Judicial Watch, they neglected to include Clinton’s emails.
“It was clear to me that at the time that I ruled initially, that false statements were made to me by career State Department officials, and it became more clear through discovery that the information that I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the search and this – what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system,” he said.
Judicial Watch founder Tom Fitton provides further analysis of the judge’s statements in the video below:
Court Transcript Now Available: Federal Judge ‘Shocked’ Clinton Aide Granted Immunity by Justice Department. Court Criticizes State Department for Providing False Statements on Clinton Emails. Yet State still protects Clinton. https://t.co/zwOzDNSkeg pic.twitter.com/OWrCs966eQ
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) October 17, 2018
What concerns him the most is the State Department’s continue refusal to be upfront and honest with Lamberth.
“President Trump should ask why his State Department is still refusing to answer basic questions about the Clinton email scandal. Hillary Clinton’s and the State Department’s email cover up abused the FOIA, the courts, and the American people’s right to know,” he said in a statement.
He seemed to be insinuating that, despite President Donald Trump being in office, Obama-era officials — or what the judge described as “career State Department officials” — still remain embedded within the agency and are doing their very best to stop groups like Judicial Watch from uncovering the truth.
As noted by Judicial Watch, it was its own lawsuit against the State Department that “led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.”
Yet even Trump’s Statement Department continues to stonewall, obfuscate and play what the judge termed “word games.”
He issued the latter declaration when the department’s attorney tried argued Friday that there’s a “strong precedent saying that items not in the State’s possession do not need to be searched.”
His point was that because Clinton’s emails hadn’t been in the department’s possession when Judicial Watch filed its suit, the department hadn’t been obliged to search them.
The judge disagreed: “And that’s because the Secretary was doing this on a private server? So it wasn’t in the State’s possession?… So you’re playing the same word game she played?” he replied.
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