Contact: Jill Farrell, Judicial Watch, 202-646-5172
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- Judicial Watch announced today that it has asked a federal court to reject the State Department's secrecy claims over certain Clinton email-related document on the grounds that the documents relate to government misconduct.
Judicial Watch argues the agency should release 30 emails currently being withheld under various "deliberative process," "attorney client," and "attorney work product" privileges. The lawsuit was originally filed in May 2015, and seeks "all emails sent or received by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her official capacity as secretary of State, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Secretary Clinton regarding her non-'state.gov' email address." (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00687)).
Judicial Watch argues that Clinton's email practices at the State Department constitute misconduct:
The U.S. federal government has produced two State Department Inspector General reports and a report following an FBI investigation, which collectively support the conclusion that, at a minimum, the unofficial server arrangement was misconduct even if it was not a prosecutable violation of criminal law or one that will necessarily result in civil liability. Secretary Clinton herself has called the unofficial server arrangement a 'mistake'…
The State Department's descriptions of the documents show that the department may have misled the public about the Clinton email scandal:
The Vaughn [withholding index] description of these records appears to show, at least in part, a public relations campaign orchestrated by Defendant to create a false equivalence between Secretary Clinton's unofficial server and the records management practices of former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeline Albright. No one believes that Madeline Albright used an unofficial server located at her residence for government communications. Nor did Colin Powell hold 30,000 government records in his possession for two years after he left the State Department. Accordingly, it would appear that one purpose of the withheld discussions in this case was to manage the public messaging about government misconduct so as to mislead the public about its severity.
Judicial Watch asks to the court to reject the State Department's efforts to shield documents under the "deliberative process privilege," among other asserted privileges, in order to protect the confidentiality of internal deliberations:
In this Circuit, the government misconduct exception to the deliberative process privilege applies in two circumstances. First, the "deliberative process privilege disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred." And second, "where there is reason to believe the documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, the privilege is routinely denied on the grounds that shielding internal government deliberations in this context does not serve the public's interest in honest, effective government." … Both exceptions apply to the 30 documents in question here, for the reasons already elaborated.
A hearing in this case is scheduled for Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 10 a.m. ET in courtroom 19 of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The hearing will be held before Judge James E. Boasberg: