A conservative group that played a key role in legal battles over access to Hillary Clinton’s emails is asking a federal judge to release videos of depositions top Clinton aides and other State Department officials gave in connection with the litigation over her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Judicial Watch filed a motion Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, asking him to unseal the testimony in light of the fact that the presidential election is over and the arguments against release seemed to be based on the videos becoming fodder in the White House race. Transcripts of the testimony were released soon after it was given, but the recordings have never been published.
“The sole reason for sealing the recordings in the first place was to avoid their misuse during the 2016 campaign season. Now that the election is over that reason no longer exists,” Judicial Watch attorney Michael Bekesha wrote. “The release of the recordings will not only allow the public to better understand Secretary Clinton’s email practices, it will also provide the public with a more complete picture of the discovery taken in this case.”
At issue are depositions given by former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, former State information technology manager John Bentel, and computer technician Bryan Pagliano, who worked for State and Clinton personally. Lawyers for those four and for the State Department have indicated they oppose release of the videos, the court filing said.
Sullivan ordered the videos sealed last May, finding “good cause” to keep them under wraps, but Judicial Watch says those grounds are no longer valid.
“That good cause – the possibility that the recordings could be exploited for political gain during the contentious campaign season – is now moot. The reason for the protective order no longer exists,” Bekesha wrote.
The Judicial Watch motion points to continuing press coverage of the Clinton-related email litigation (including this POLITICO post) and notes that media organizations asked last July that Sullivan to reconsider his motion and release the videos. The judge has not acted on that request.
In addition to the videos of the four former Clinton aides, recordings of testimony from four current State officials are involved in the dispute: Deputy Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, two veteran diplomats who worked in Clinton’s office Lewis Lukens and Stephen Mull, as well as a current administrative official in Secretary of State John Kerry’s office, Karin Lang.
No videos of Clinton are involved in the dispute. She was permitted to answer written questions in lieu of an in-person deposition.