A federal judge has ordered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to sit for a sworn deposition for the first time in connection with her use of a private email account during her State Department tenure.
Clinton was previously required to submit a sworn written statement about her email use, but the deposition—if it takes place—would be the first time she has had to submit to live questioning under oath on the subject.
During her four years in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, Clinton relied on a private email account and server for both her work-related and personal messages. The practice led to a storm of controversy that roiled her 2016 presidential bid and is widely viewed as contributing to her ultimate defeat by Donald Trump.
Clinton has argued that she has already answered questions about this and should not have to do so again, but D.C. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth said in his ruling that her past responses left much to be desired.
“As extensive as the existing record is, it does not sufficiently explain Secretary Clinton’s state of mind when she decided it would be an acceptable practice to set up and use a private server to conduct State Department business,” Lamberth said.
The judge went on to recognize that while Clinton responded to written questions in a separate case, “those responses were either incomplete, unhelpful, or cursory at best. Simply put her responses left many more questions than answers.” Lamberth said that using written questions this time “will only muddle any understanding of Secretary Clinton’s state of mind and fail to capture the full picture, this delaying the final disposition of this case even further.”
The ruling comes after Judicial Watch revealed at a December 2019 status conference that the FBI released “approximately thirty previously undisclosed Clinton emails,” and that the State Department “failed to fully explain” where they came from.
The State Department has been pushing for the discovery phase of the case to come to a close, but Lamberth said he is not ready to do so, saying that “there is still more to learn.”