The watchdog group Judicial Watch will interview several Hillary Clinton aides and State Department officials over the next few weeks, it announced on Tuesday.
The first interview will be conducted on Wednesday with Lewis Lukens, the former deputy assistant secretary of state and executive director of the Executive Secretariat.
Next week, on May 27, Judicial Watch’s lawyers will depose Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. Bryan Pagliano, the information technology specialist who managed Clinton’s email system, will be deposed on June 6 and Huma Abedin, Clinton’s “body woman,” will be interviewed on June 28.
The watchdog will interview two other State Department officials — former executive secretary of state Stephen Mull and under secretary for management Patrick Kennedy — next month.
The interviews were granted earlier this month by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is handling Judicial Watch’s lawsuit for records pertaining to Abedin’s employment at the State Department.
The State Department told Judicial Watch in 2014 that it had no records pertaining to its Freedom of Information Act request for such records. But the suit was reopened last year after the discovery that Clinton used a personal email account and private email server to conduct official State Department business.
When he issued the ruling granting the interviews to Judicial Watch, Sullivan noted that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.”
Judicial Watch filed a motion on Monday in reference to a different lawsuit requesting to depose Clinton.
The interviews are likely to shed light on how and why the Clinton email system came into existence. Sullivan has said that the possibility that the system was used to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional inquiries warrants the depositions.
The State Department officials that Judicial Watch will talk to were involved at some point in discussing Clinton’s emails account and server. The agency has claimed that while many inside the State Department knew that Clinton was using a personal email address, it was not until 2011 that State Department officials became aware that she was using the server.
Lukens is of interest to Judicial Watch because he emailed Patrick Kennedy and Cheryl Mills early in Clinton’s tenure about setting up a stand-alone email system at the State Department so that Clinton could check her email.
Clinton relied almost solely on a non-government-issued BlackBerry to send and receive emails. The device was not allowed in the State Department’s executive offices because of the risk of being hacked, and so she sought out a way to be able to email at the State Department.
As under secretary for management, Kennedy is perhaps the most powerful non-political State Department official. He oversees numerous divisions, including the IT department, human resources, and diplomatic security. He is also the official who passed along Pagliano’s resume to the agency’s IT department prior to his hiring.
Kennedy has reportedly claimed that he did not know about Clinton’s server while she was in office. But he was involved in an Aug. 2011 email exchange involving Mills, Abedin and Stephen Mull. In that email, as The Daily Caller first reported, Mull wrote that Clinton’s server was malfunctioning. He then suggested providing Clinton with a government-issued BlackBerry which would “mask her identity” but be responsive to FOIA requests. (RELATED: Hillary Aides Resisted State Dept. Suggestion That Hillary Use State.gov Account)
Abedin shot down the idea, saying that it “doesn’t make much sense.”
As part of a court-approved agreement between Judicial Watch and the State Department, the agency will have three days to review transcripts and audio-visual recordings of the depositions for any classified or sensitive material. Sullivan said that the interviews must focus solely on the creation of the email system and the records-keeping process. They can not delve into the classified emails contained on Clinton’s server or the FBI’s investigation into that matter.
Most of the officials who will be deposed have been interviewed as part of other ongoing Clinton-related investigations. Mills, Abedin and Pagliano have all been interviewed by the FBI. Pagliano did so in exchange for immunity. Kennedy, Mills and Abedin have been interviewed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Pagliano declined to talk to the committee in September, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
“This court-order testimony could finally reveal new truths about how Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department subverted the Freedom of the Information Act,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement announcing the deposition schedule.