On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills were the subjects of a hearing in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The court was hearing arguments from her attorneys on whether or not she had to give an in-person deposition to Judicial Watch concerning her unlawful use of a private, unsecure email server during her time as Secretary of State.
The official topic of Tuesday’s arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals was Hillary Clinton’s bid to avoid giving an in-person deposition to a conservative group about the subject that dogged her during her 2016 presidential bid: her use of a private email account and server during her tenure as secretary of state.
However, some of the comments by judges and attorneys on Tuesday called to mind the ongoing battle royal over the Justice Department’s effort to abandon its prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, on a false-statement charge, despite Flynn’s guilty plea in the case.
Both the Clinton deposition dispute and the Flynn case imbroglio involve an obscure type of legal mechanism that is not currently a household word but may soon be, at least in Washington: mandamus. It’s a process that can be used to force a judge’s hand when an ordinary appeal isn’t available for some reason or just won’t do the trick.
None of the lawyers or judges explicitly mentioned Flynn on Tuesday, but as the participants jousted over Clinton’s request, at least some seemed to be offering arguments shaped by the blockbuster fight over the attempt to unwind the guilty plea that Flynn offered to special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors more than two years ago.
While the Justice Department weighed in Monday with a full-throated endorsement of Flynn’s mandamus petition to shut down his prosecution, the department essentially sat on its hands after Clinton and her longtime aide Cheryl Mills filed similar petitions to block depositions that a judge ordered at the request of the conservative group Judicial Watch.
You can hear the exchanges below involving Clinton attorney David Kendall over Case no:20-5056
At least two of the judges assigned to the case seemed to suggest an uphill battle for the former secretary, first lady, senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate by stressing just how infrequently mandamus is granted.
“Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy,” said Judge Nina Pillard, an appointee of President Barack Obama.
“Mandamus is extraordinary. It’s a rare device,” added Judge Thomas Griffith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.
The only judge currently assigned to both the Clinton case and the Flynn one, Obama appointee Robert Wilkins, didn’t offer the same kinds of generic observations on the legal tactic common to both cases. However, all the D.C. Circuit judges could eventually be asked to weigh in on the Flynn case.
Law & Crime point out the oddity of the entire case.
Clinton’s legal team argued before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday against a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Clinton was noticed for an in-person deposition, and argued against attending. U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled against Clinton in March, saying she had to be deposed in person. After that, Clinton’s team pulled out an interesting and seldom-successful legal maneuver: they filed a petition for mandamus against the judge. Mandamus is a legalese for “forcing a government official to do their job properly.”
Typically, litigants unsatisfied with adverse rulings simply appeal those rulings; petitioning for mandamus is far from a go-to legal strategy. And yet, two very high-profile cases hit courtrooms this week, both hoping that mandamus will save them.This particular case is extra odd, even for mandamus cases.
At those arguments on Tuesday, lawyers for Clinton (and her longtime aide Cheryl Mills, who was also noticed for a deposition) argued that Clinton and Mills have already turned over tens of thousands of messages, and that the real purpose for the depositions was to harass them on the national stage. Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, called the deposition “social media fundraising” and said that Judicial Watch sought it solely to create “video footage that can be used for partisan, political attack ads.”
Clearly, even former FBI Director James Comey said that his investigation determined Clinton broke the law, and so these judicial gymnastics going on should be immediately dismissed and Clinton and Mills be forced to provide depositions as they were order to do.
This is about the truth for the American people while it might be political for others.
The people were promised justice due to Clinton’s crimes. We’ve yet to see it.
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