US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tours John Marshall High School on August 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP photo)
A federal judge in the US has ordered Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to provide written testimony under oath about why she used a private email server while secretary of state
The conservative advocacy organization Judicial Watch, which is pursuing a vigorous campaign to expose Clinton’s use of the private server, has filed several lawsuits against her. On Friday, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan approved a motion by Judicial Watch.
The judge also allowed the legal watchdog to depose a senior State Department aide who had warned two subordinates not to question her email practices.
"Judicial Watch’s argument that a deposition is preferable in this case because of the ability to ask follow-up questions is not persuasive," Sullivan wrote.
"Given the extensive public record related to the system, a record which Judicial Watch has acknowledged, Judicial Watch will be able to anticipate many follow-up questions. For those follow-up questions that Judicial Watch is unable to anticipate, it can move this Court for permission to serve additional interrogatories," he added.
Judicial Watch welcomed the decision.
“We are pleased that this federal court ordered Hillary Clinton to provide written answers under oath to some key questions about her email scandal,” the group's president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “We will move quickly to get these answers. The decision is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not above the law.”
Only last month, FBI Director James Comey declined to recommend prosecuting Clinton, despite evidence she was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified emails on her private server as secretary of state.
Yet the controversy refuses to go away. This week, the FBI turned over to Congress the documents it recovered from Clinton’s private server.
Clinton has come under fire for using a private email account and server at her home in New York for official emails when she was America's top diplomat between 2009 and 2013.
Critics, including Republican presidential election rival Donald Trump, say she endangered government secrets and evaded transparency laws.
The State Department’s inspector general said in late May that Clinton’s personal server violated the department’s record-keeping rules and that it would have been rejected had she asked department officials.
Clinton sent about 30,000 emails to the State Department from her tenure as secretary which were then published in batches in line with a court order.