WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not have to provide a deposition as part of a lawsuit brought by a conservative judicial group that seeks information about her use of a private email account, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The group, Judicial Watch, was hoping the judge would order Clinton’s testimony after filing a request for its Freedom of Information Act suit last month.
While the judge said the Democratic presidential candidate won’t have to do that, he did rule she must provide written responses to the group’s questions in the matter, which are due by mid-October. Clinton will have 30 days to respond after the questions are submitted.
“We are pleased that this federal court ordered Hillary Clinton to provide written answers under oath to some key questions about her email scandal,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement Friday. “We will move quickly to get these answers. The decision is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not above the law.”
Judicial Watch, which has been after Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in court for years, said it wants answers as to why the former first lady used a private email account for work purposes — answers it argues she has never given.
Critics have accused the group of merely trying to smear Clinton in the hopes it will derail her White House bid.
Last month, the FBI concluded its investigation into the email matter and said it found no criminal wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. It also recommended no charges against her, although director James Comey called her use of private email “extremely careless.”
The State Department is conducting its own review.
Earlier Friday, it was reported that Clinton told investigators that it was former Secretary of State Colin Powell who recommended she use a private email account as department head for unclassified communications.
According to interview notes taken by FBI agents, Clinton said Powell made the recommendation twice — once at a dinner party and again in a follow-up email exchange shortly after Clinton became secretary of state.
Powell, through a spokesman, said he doesn’t remember the dinner party conversation, but added he did use a private email account for unclassified communications with other department employees because no official system existed for such messages when he had the job.
An official non-classified email system was installed in 2009, the same year Clinton arrived.
“[Powell] did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department,” Powell’s representative said. “At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department. He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information.”
It’s believed Powell was the first secretary of state to use electronic mail.