Politics

Judge Blasts Clinton’s Private Email Use in Scathing Ruling

He also denounced the Justice and State Departments for how they responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit

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A federal judge blasted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server to conduct official business last Thursday as a grave offense against government transparency.

D.C. District Judge Royce Lamberth denounced Clinton’s use of a private email server as “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

He also slammed the Department of Justice and the Department of State for the way these departments responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for emails related to the Benghazi terrorist attack from 2014.

“At best, State’s efforts to pass off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence,” Lamberth wrote in the ruling, which was obtained by Politico.

“At worst, career employees at the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this court.”

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sought to get the emails as part of its ongoing investigation into the Clintons.

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Lamberth ordered the watchdog group and the federal government to come up with a discovery plan in 10 days, meaning each party can obtain evidence from the other in what is a common pre-trial procedure.

Related: Rep. Darrell Issa Warns That Jim Comey Could Slip Past Republicans

“The historic court ruling raises concerns about the Hillary Clinton email scandal and government corruption that millions of Americans share,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

“Judicial Watch looks forward to conducting careful discovery into the Clinton email issue and we hope the Justice Department and State Department recognize Judge Lamberth’s criticism and help, rather than obstruct, this court-ordered discovery.”

Lamberth also said that if the State Department attempts to settle despite knowing the inadequacies of the initial search, its discovery plan should examine if the private email was used to evade FOIA requests.

He also ordered the Interior Department, CNN reported, to disconnect all of its networks from the internet over security concerns.

Clinton’s use of the private email server became a major issue when she was running for president in the 2016 election. She used it for official diplomatic business — which could have included classified information.

The FBI opened an investigation into the matter, which led to questions in the end over how that was conducted.

Related: Strzok Hides Behind National Security Cover, Mum to Most Key Questions

Former FBI Director James Comey decided not to recommend the filing of charges against Clinton in July of 2016. In a controversial announcement, he said her actions were extremely careless but did not rise to a criminally prosecutable offense.

He reopened the case for a short time just days before the election when additional emails were discovered on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) laptop.

The House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee eventually launched a joint investigation last year into decisions made by the Department of Justice and FBI during the investigation.

The review has also focused on what led to the special counsel’s investigation against President Donald Trump.

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