Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton did something unprecedented — he reopened a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act
The lawsuit had sought documents about an advertisement
intended to air in Pakistan entitled “A Message from the President of the United States Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Walton issued the ruling on May 8 in response to a joint motion by Judicial Watch and the State Department. Judicial Watch attorneys say they are aware of no precedent of another FOIA lawsuit being reopened by a federal court.
The decision to reopen this Judicial Watch Clinton-Benghazi lawsuit is an extraordinary legal development that spells trouble for Clinton and the Obama administration.
Judicial Watch filed suit in December 2012, after the State Department failed to respond to a September 24, 2012, FOIA request for all records concerning the advertisement produced by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad intended to air in Pakistan.
The advertisement was an absurd and dishonest “apology” for the Internet video that President Obama, then-Secretary of State Clinton, and other administration officials falsely blamed for inspiring “spontaneous demonstrations” resulting in the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The ad was a misuse of tax dollars and part of the cover-up of the truth about the Benghazi terrorist attack.
In November 2014, Judicial Watch ended the lawsuit after being told by the State Department
that its search “of the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar have been completed and have resulted in the retrieval of no documents responsive to your request.”
However, at the time Judicial Watch did not know about Clinton’s secret email cache that the State Department was covering up.
In the compromise joint motion, Judicial Watch and the State Department asked Walton to reopen the lawsuit under a federal court rule allowing for consideration of newly discovered evidence: "In March 2015, media sources reported that former Secretary Clinton, and possibly other senior State Department officials, used non-“state.gov” email account to conduct government business. Thereafter, [Judicial Watch] informed the Department that based on this information, which was previously unknown to [Judicial Watch], it would seek to reopen the case."
Now that the lawsuit is reopened, the State Department has promised the court, at a minimum, to search the email records allegedly turned over by Clinton to the State Department last year.
This court ruling, once again, shows that Judicial Watch’s litigation is critical to making public any secret emails of Hillary Clinton and her appointees at the State Department. Judicial Watch also recently filed seven
different lawsuits regarding the Clinton email scandal, and another lawsuit
regarding Clinton’s use of an iPad to conduct official government business.
There are approximately 18 other lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, as well as about 160 Judicial Watch FOIA requests that could be affected by Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. Judicial Watch’s litigation against the State Department has already exposed key documents about both the Benghazi and Clinton cash scandals.
Judicial Watch is still awaiting word from another court on a separate bid to reopen a FOIA lawsuit over records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s controversial work arrangements.
Judicial Watch is asking the court to reopen a case under a rule that allows a party to reopen a case due to “fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party”: "The State Department had an obligation under the Federal Records Act to properly preserve, maintain, and make available for retrieval records of its official functions. In fact, it is the obligation of the head of every federal agency to do so. Secretary Clinton plainly violated her own legal obligations. Doing so was misconduct."
The State Department did not originally oppose the idea that Clinton’s misconduct justified reopening this other case.
There is also no precedent for Hillary Clinton’s stealing, hiding, and destroying State Department records.
Rather than defend its and Clinton’s fraud on the courts overseeing this and other FOIA lawsuits, the State Department stood down and joined Judicial Watch in asking for the lawsuit to be reopened.
The Clinton machine may run rings around Congress and much of the media, but one can hope it will not work as well on federal judges in Judicial Watch’s two dozen lawsuits.
Judicial Watch’s victory garnered national headlines and coverage from outlets such as Fox News. Interested readers can view a special Fox News interview on the topic here
Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. He is a nationally recognized expert on government corruption. A former talk radio and television host and analyst, Tom is well known across the country as a national spokesperson for the conservative cause. He has been quoted in Time, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most every other major newspaper in the country. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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