A federal judge ordered the Department of State Wednesday to produce for The Daily Caller News Foundation the security training records of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin within two weeks, or face direct deposition of multiple government officials.
“I’m sure you can appreciate Mr. Lee, there is a certain time sensitivity on this issue,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon told Department of Justice Attorney Jason Lee, representing the State Department. “We’re looking down the barrel of a presidential election from now in two months.”
Leon said TheDCNF is, “trying to get to the bottom of this, to what extent Secretary Clinton and probably her immediate staff received training. They’re trying to figure out was the training in writing or orally, (and) how was it done.”
“Let me put it to you this way: You need to discuss with your client whether it would be better to give them the answers to these questions or to have depositions to depose those at the State Department,” Leon said.
TheDCNF filed the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act last November, after the State Department refused to turn over all records of the security training for Clinton and her top aides.
In a July 29 State Department filing before Leon, attorneys for the State and Justice departments claimed they failed to locate any security briefing documents for Clinton or Abedin.
They further stated the absence of any documents meant that the “courses were not completed” by the secretary or her aides. It is unclear if Clinton explicitly refused to attend the security briefings.
The lack of training may help explain why Clinton saw no problem with setting up a private server in her New York home to process her private email account.
Clinton deliberately skipped a cybersecurity briefing in 2011, and defied national security officials by continuing to bring her unsecured BlackBerry cellphone into the confines of her secure office at the State Department.
Lee tried to deflect further release of records, and suggested that TheDCNF file a new FOIA and forward the request directly to the secretary’s office, rather than before the two department units that conduct training courses and briefings.
Leon forcefully rejected the idea. “If they file a new FOIA request, they’ll probably go to the end of a very long line which is not particularly fair way to resolve this problem,” he said.
If the issue was not resolved by Sept. 15, Leon said he would order depositions by TheDCNF of State Department officials.
“At the moment, there’s a very real prospect that your client and staff will have to sit through depositions to get answers to these questions. It would seem to me to be a lot simpler if you just give them the basic information they need here and we don’t go through all this,” Leon warned.
“Judge Leon made it clear that State can provide the simple clarifications we’ve sought one of two ways: either now, in a cooperative manner, or in a few weeks in sworn depositions,” said attorney Bradley Moss. “The choice is theirs to make.” Moss represents TheDCNF in the suit.
The lawsuit also demands the release of all training records for Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, aide Jacob Sullivan and Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy.
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