The State Department and Judicial Watch reached a tentative agreement late Friday that will allow the conservative watchdog group to conduct discovery regarding the “creation and operation” of Hillary Clinton’s private email system.
The proposed joint order must now be approved by Emmet Sullivan, the U.S. District Court judge handling the Judicial Watch lawsuit, which seeks records related to the “special government employee” status of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department.
Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, will likely provide sworn depositions in the case. As will Bryan Pagliano, the information technology specialist who set up and managed Clinton’s private email system.
Sullivan reopened the lawsuit last year after it was discovered that Clinton and Abedin used accounts on Clinton’s personal email system. Judicial Watch filed the suit in 2013, but it was dismissed a year later after the State Department claimed it had no relevant records.
According to the proposed joint order, Judicial Watch will be granted discovery regarding “the creation and operation of clintonemail.com for State Department business.”
It can also explore “the State Department’s approach and practice for processing FOIA requests that potentially implicated former Secretary Clinton’s and Ms. Abedin’s emails and State’s processing of the FOIA request that is the subject of this action.”
Last month, Judicial Watch filed a plan to conduct a “narrowly tailored discovery” into whether Clinton purposely attempted to thwart the Freedom of Information Act by creating and using a private email system.
Judicial Watch also sought to depose several State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management, Patrick Kennedy. The watchdog also left open the possibility that it would need to depose Clinton herself.
Some areas of inquiry will be off limits to Judicial Watch, the proposed joint order states. The no-go areas include the handling, storage and transmission of classified information and anything pertaining to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton and her server.
According to the proposed order, the State Department will have three days following depositions to review transcripts and recordings for any classified information or anything related to federal investigations.
If necessary, State would be allowed to seek an order to preclude the information from being quoted, paraphrased or released to the public.
Judge Sullivan has indicated a willingness to side with Judicial Watch in its various lawsuits for Clinton records.
During a hearing in February to discuss the discovery process, he said of Clinton’s email arrangement that “it just boggles the mind a little that the State Department allowed this practice to occur in the first place.”
“I think that whatever opinion the Court writes, the first sentence will be: This is a very troubling case, for a host of reasons,” he said then. (RELATED: Judge Says The Rest Of Hillary’s Emails May Have To Be Subpoenaed)
Judicial Watch proposed joint order with the State Dept