In January 2019, United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap – to respond under oath.
The court-ordered discovery comes in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Judicial Watch seeks:
Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:
- Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
- whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
- whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
The confirmed discovery schedule now includes:
March 14: Deposition of Justin Cooper, a former aide to Bill Clinton who reportedlyhad no security clearance and is believed to have played a key role in setting up Hillary Clinton’s non-government email system.
April 16: Deposition of Jacob “Jake” Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff.
April 23: Deposition of Sheryl Walter, former State Department Director of the Office of Information Programs and Services/Global Information Services.
April 26: Deposition of Gene Smilansky, a State Department lawyer.
April 30. Deposition of Monica Tillery, a State Department official.
May 7: Deposition of Jonathon Wasser, who was a management analyst on the Executive Secretariat staff. Wasser worked for Deputy Director Clarence Finney and was the State Department employee who actually conducted the searches for records in response to FOIA requests to the Office of the Secretary.
May 14: Deposition of Clarence Finney, the deputy director of the Executive Secretariat staff who was the principal advisor and records management expert in the Office of the Secretary responsible for control of all correspondence and records for Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials.
June 11: 30(b)(6) Deposition, which will be designated by the State Department.
June 13: Deposition of Heather Samuelson, the former State Department senior advisor who helped facilitate the State Department’s receipt and release of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
As yet to be determined is the deposition date for Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell, who wrote a March 2, 2009, internal memorandum titled “Use of Blackberries on Mahogany Row,” in which he strongly advised that the devices not be allowed.
Written questions under oath are to be answered by:
Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.
E.W. Priestap, who is serving as assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and helped oversee both the Clinton email and the 2016 presidential campaign investigations. Priestap testified in a separate lawsuit that Clinton was the subject of a grand jury investigation related to her BlackBerry email accounts.
Susan Rice, President Obama’s former UN ambassador who appeared on Sunday television news shows following the Benghazi attacks, blaming a “hateful video.” Rice was also Obama’s national security advisor involved in the “unmasking” the identities of senior Trump officials caught up in the surveillance of foreign targets.
Ben Rhodes, an Obama-era White House deputy strategic communications adviser who attempted to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”
“Judicial Watch is doing the heavy lifting on the ongoing Clinton email scandal, even as Congress dropped the ball and DOJ and State continued to obstruct our quest for the truth,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Court in our case wants real answers on the Clinton email scandal which is why our request for basic discovery was granted.”
This Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.