Clinton Games the System — Again
Former top aide refuses to answer email questions because she's Hillary's attorney
Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state and now, coincidentally, her private attorney, seems to suffer from PCA — politically convenient amnesia.
“Objection. Beyond the scope. And I’m going to instruct her not to answer.”
Mills gave testimony in a heated deposition from Judicial Watch last Friday, where she was repeatedly directed not to answer questions by her lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, according to the transcript released Tuesday. Wilkinson objected to a large number of questions on the premise that the probing encroached on Clinton’s attorney-client privilege because Mills is her attorney.
“Objection. Beyond the scope. And I’m going to instruct her not to answer,” Wilkinson said at one point. “Objection. I’m going to object because it’s beyond the scope,” she chimed in at another. And: “I am going to — excuse me. I’m going to object.”
In her testimony, Mills said she had no knowledge of Clinton’s use of a private server and only discovered it after her tenure as secretary of state. Mills went on to admit that she had conversations with Pagliano, the aide who set up the server, only after Clinton left the State Department in 2013.
Mills refused to answer questions about Clinton’s use of a private email server — unable to testify on the matter due to attorney-client privilege. If Mills had in fact learned of the server during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, she would have to answer. A true case of PCA.
“You asked her how she learned the information after she left the department,” Wilkinson said. “She told you she had no knowledge of how the Clinton noncomm account was set up in 2009, when it was. And that’s what is relevant in the scope here, not what she learned after the fact as a lawyer. And that’s why I’m instructing her not to answer.”
But an email dated August 30, 2011, addressed to Mills from Stephen Mull, executive secretary of the State Department, did mention Clinton’s private server. “We are working to provide the secretary, per her request, a Department-issued Blackberry to replace her personal unit, which is malfunctioning,” wrote Mull, stating that the device was malfunctioning “possibly because her personal email server is down.”
Of course there was an abundance of excuses as to why Clinton’s top aides and employees didn’t think to adhere to normal and required email archival practices under public records law — one was Benghazi.
“The secretary was not only transitioning, there had been a — we had lost our first ambassador in quite some time, and we were stepping through the sets of issues associated with that. And she, too, had fallen ill, and there — and there had been a period of time where we were obviously navigating a whole set of issues in that space,” Mills said. “So I don’t know that this was something that I focused on, and certainly I wish I had.”
However, Mills did say in her testimony that she had emailed Clinton from her own personal address at times and that those emails would not likely have been stored in the State Department’s archived system. But she said she couldn’t recall any conversations with Clinton regarding her email use or the decision to use a private server — even though she was one of Clinton’s closest confidants.
Furthermore, Mills insisted that Clinton’s use of a private email account was “absolutely not” an attempt to evade the Freedom of Information Act.
Mills noted that a majority of her correspondence with Clinton was conducted via her State Department email account and that she thought those were tracked properly. “It was my impression that when she emailed, because it was her practice to email people on their State accounts when she was doing State business, that any of those communications would be captured and maintained by the State Department system,” Mills said.
Mills’ deposition is one of seven scheduled over the next four weeks for Clinton’s top aides, where the public can expect much of the same objections and evasion of the truth.
In another unusual twist, Wilkinson is representing four of Clinton’s former State Department employees in the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server — Mills, Jake Sullivan (Clinton’s deputy chief of staff), Heather Samuelson (Mills’ deputy), and Philippe Reines (Clinton’s spokesman).
What’s more, Wilkinson is the wife of David Gregory, a current CNN political analyst and former “Meet the Press” host. Wilkinson is a former Justice Department attorney with strong ties and connections to the Justice Department, which can only serve to the benefit of her clients.