Judicial Watch: Justice Department Granted Immunity To Hillary Clinton’s Lawyer Who Destroyed 33,000 Emails

Heather Samuelson also testifies under oath in Judicial Watch court-ordered deposition that, contrary to what she told the FBI, she was in fact aware that Clinton used private email account as secretary of state

 

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Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s White House Liaison at the State Department, and later Clinton’s personal lawyer, Heather Samuelson, admitted under oath that she was granted immunity by the U.S. Department of Justice in June 2016:

Samuelson: I was provided limited production immunity by the Department of Justice.

Judicial Watch: And when was that?

***

Samuelson: My recollection, it was June 2015 [later corrected to 2016].

A complete copy of her deposition transcript is available here. Samuelson also revealed that, contrary to what she told the FBI in 2016, she was, in fact, aware that Sec. Clinton used a private email account while secretary of state:

Judicial Watch: Ms. Samuelson, when did you first become aware that Secretary Clinton used the e-mail address hdr22@clintonemail.com while she was at the State Department?

Samuelson: I believe I first became aware when either she e-mailed me on personal matters, such as wishing me happy birthday, or when I infrequently would receive e-mails forwarded to me from others at the department that had that e-mail address listed elsewhere in the document.

***

Judicial Watch: Okay. And who were the State Department officials?

Samuelson: I recall Cheryl Mills, but it could have been others.

Samuel’s admission to Judicial Watch that she became aware of Clinton’s non-State.gov emails during her service in the Clinton State Department White House Liaison Office during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state (January 2009 – February 2013) contradicts the notation in the FBI’s May 24, 2016 302 report on Samuelson’s interview with FBI agents:

Samuelson did not become aware of Clinton’s use of a private email account and server until she was serving as Clinton’s personal attorney.

After Clinton left office, Samuelson worked for a year in the office of the White House Counsel before becoming Clinton’s personal attorney, where, in 2014, she was primarily responsible for conducting the review of Clinton emails and sorting out “personal” emails from government emails, which were returned to the State Department under the direction of Cheryl Mills and Clinton lawyer David Kendall.  After the emails were returned to State, Clinton deleted the rest of the “personal” emails from her server, wiping it clean. Samuelson conducted the review of emails on her laptop, using Clinton server files downloaded from Platte River Networks, which housed the Clinton email server. Judicial Watch questioned her about a “gap” in the emails she discovered:

Judicial Watch: I believe you, during your interview with the FBI, you were asked about a gap in e-mails that you noticed in Secretary Clinton’s e-mails from January 2009 to March of 2009. Do you recall that?

Samuelson: I do.

Judicial Watch: Okay. Can you explain to me what that gap was?

Samuelson: My understanding is — well, I’m sorry. I should say my recollection is when we received the documents — the file from Platte River Networks, there was a period of time that was missing in her e-mails. And that period of time was January 2009 to March 2009.

Judicial Watch: And what did you do as the result of discovering this gap in the e-mails from January 2009 to March 2009?

***

Samuelson: I asked Platte River why we did not have — why they did not provide those.

Judicial Watch: And what did they tell you?

Samuelson: They said they did not have that information.

Judicial Watch: Did Platte River have access during 2014 to the server that housed Secretary Clinton’s e-mails to her Clintonemail.com account –

***

– and was there any discussion as to whether they could obtain Secretary Clinton’s e-mails from that server from January 2009 to March 2009?

***

Samuelson: I did ask them, and they said they did not have any e-mails from that period.

Samuelson also testified in her deposition that she created an “after action memo” in or around December 2014 to memorialize the email search. Samuelson’s lawyer directed her not to answer questions about this memo.

During Hillary Clinton’s transition as secretary of state during her tenure, Samuelson was in charge of political-nomination (“Schedule C”) hires for Clinton’s transition team at the State Department.  When questioned by Judicial Watch lawyers about Brock Johnson, whom she hired as a special assistant to Secretary Clinton as a “favor” to controversial Clinton Foundation official Doug Band (co-founder of Teneo Strategy with Bill Clinton and a top official of the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Global Initiative), Samuelson testified that on occasion Band sent referrals of individuals they should consider hiring. Johnson later worked, in coordination with the Obama White House, when the State Department falsely responded to a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) FOIA request that there were no records showing Clinton’s email address.

The deposition of Samuelson comes out of Judicial Watch’s July 2014 Freedom of Information Act (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:

  • Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
  • 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.

On December 6, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers and Clinton aides, as well as Heather Samuelson, to be deposed or answer written questions under oath. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.” Judicial Watch’s discovery is centered upon whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act by using a non-government email system and whether the State Department acted in bad faith in processing Judicial Watch’s FOIA request for communications from Clinton’s office.

“The news that the Obama DOJ gave immunity to Heather Samuelson, Hillary Clinton’s lawyer responsible for the infamous deletion of 33,000 emails, further confirms the sham FBI/DOJ investigation of the Clinton email scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “And it is curious that Ms. Samuelson changed her story about what she knew and when about the Clinton email system. Attorney General Barr can’t reopen the Clinton email investigation fast enough.”

Judicial Watch: Federal Judge ‘Shocked’ Clinton Aide Granted Immunity by Justice Department

Court Criticizes State Department for Providing False Statements on Clinton Emails

 

Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch announced today that in his opening remarks at a Friday, October 12 hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth strongly criticized the U.S. Department of State, stating, “The information that I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the [Clinton email] search and… what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system.”

Turning his attention to the Department of Justice, Judge Lamberth said that he was “dumbfounded” by the agency’s Inspector General report revealing that Cheryl Mills had been given immunity and was allowed to accompany former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her FBI interview:

I had myself found that Cheryl Mills had committed perjury and lied under oath in a published opinion I had issued in a Judicial Watch case where I found her unworthy of belief, and I was quite shocked to find out she had been given immunity in — by the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case. So I did not know that until I read the IG report and learned that and that she had accompanied the Secretary to her interview.

(In an April 28, 2008, ruling relating to Mills’ conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Lamberth called Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco … Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.”)

Lamberth also complained that the Justice Department attorney representing the State Department was using “doublespeak,” and playing “word games.”

The hearing had been ordered by Judge Lamberth regarding a request from Judicial Watch for testimony under oath from Clinton, Mills and several other State Department officials regarding the State Department’s processing of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request and Clinton’s emails. The State Department still opposes all of Judicial Watch’s requests for additional discovery into the Clinton email scandal.

Judge Lamberth said he was relieved that he did not allow the case to be shut down prematurely, as the State Department had requested:

The case started with a motion for summary judgment [seeking to close the case] here and which I denied and allowed limited discovery because it was clear to me that at the time that I ruled initially, that false statements were made to me by career State Department officials and it became more clear through discovery that the information that I was provided was clearly false regarding the adequacy of the search and this – what we now know turned out to be the Secretary’s email system.

I don’t know the details of what kind of IG inquiry there was into why these career officials at the State Department would have filed false affidavits with me. I don’t know the details of why the Justice Department lawyers did not know false affidavits were being filed with me, but I was very relieved that I did not accept them and that I allowed limited discovery into what had happened.

Judge Lamberth also said the State Department was using “doublespeak” and word games:

THE COURT: The State Department told me that it had produced all records when it moved for summary judgment and you filed that motion.  That was not true when that motion was filed.
MR. PRINCE: At that time, we had produced all –
THE COURT: It was not true.
MR. PRINCE: Yes, it was – well, Your Honor, it might be that our search could be found to be inadequate, but that declaration was absolutely true.
THE COURT: It was not true.  It was a lie.
MR. PRINCE: It was not a lie, Your Honor.
THE COURT: What – that’s doublespeak.

***

PRINCE: There’s strong precedent saying that items not in the State’s possession do not need to be searched….
THE COURT:  And that’s because the Secretary was doing this on a private server?  So it wasn’t in the State’s possession?… So you’re playing the same word game she played?

In March 2016, Judge Lamberth granted “limited discovery” to Judicial Watch:

Where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.

***

[Judicial Watch] is certainly entitled to dispute the State Department’s position that it has no obligation to produce these documents because it did not “possess” or “control” them at the time the FOIA request was made. The State Department’s willingness to now search documents voluntarily turned over to the Department by Secretary Clinton and other officials hardly transforms such a search into an “adequate” or “reasonable one. [Judicial Watch] is not relying on “speculation” or “surmise” as the State Department claims. [Judicial Watch] is relying on constantly shifting admissions by the Government and the former government officials.

The development 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:

  • Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
  • 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.

This Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.

In May 2016, Judicial Watch filed an initial Proposed Order for Discovery seeking additional information. The State Department opposed Judicial Watch’s proposal, and in December 2016 Judge Lamberth requested both parties to file new proposed orders in light of information discovered in various venues since the previous May.

The full transcript of the hearing is available here.

“President Trump should ask why his State Department is still refusing to answer basic questions about the Clinton email scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Hillary Clinton’s and the State Department’s email cover up abused the FOIA, the courts, and the American people’s right to know.”

Watch additional comments from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton here.

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Tom Fitton’s statement on the hearing:

Hillary Might Be Squirming Tonight

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Independent Sentinel

The Washington Post is reporting that the staffer who set up Hillary’s private server has been granted immunity as “part of a criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information, according to a senior law enforcement official.”

Hillary Clinton claimed it was a security review but it’s obviously a criminal investigation.

The staffer Bryan Pagliano is cooperating with the FBI prior to interviews with Clinton and her aides.

In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said: “As we have said since last summer, Secretary Clinton has been cooperating with the Department of Justice’s security inquiry, including offering in August to meet with them to assist their efforts if needed.”

He also said that the campaign is “pleased” that Pagliano, who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights before Congress, is now cooperating with prosecutors. The campaign had encouraged Pagliano to testify before Congress.

I’ll bet they’re pleased. He obviously took the Fifth until he was granted immunity.

There was “wrongdoing”, the Post quoted the senior law enforcement official, but was it “criminal?”

If they have to ask the question, they truly having been paying attention.