Susan Rice, the former United Nations ambassador and national security adviser to President Barack Obama, was ordered by a federal judge this week to answer written questions about the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News reported.
Rice, along with Ben Rhodes, her former deputy in the White House, was ordered to answer questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly attack.
Among other questions, the pair will be asked whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was deliberately evading Freedom of Information Act requirements for public records in her use of a private email server.
The questions being brought by the watchdog group Judicial Watch are part of an ongoing legal battle over the Hillary email scandal.
In a ruling released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied the request by Judicial Watch that would have forced Rice and Rhodes to sit for depositions, opting to force them to submit written answers.
“In a major victory for accountability, Judge Lamberth today authorized Judicial Watch to take discovery on whether the Clinton email system evaded FOIA and whether the Benghazi scandal was one reason for keeping Mrs. Clinton’s email secret,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“Today, Judicial Watch issued document requests and other discovery to the State Department about the Clinton email scandal. Next up, we will begin questioning key witnesses under oath,” Fitton said.
BREAKING: A federal judge ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama officials & Clinton aides — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, & FBI official E.W. Priestap — have to answer JW’s questions under oath. (1/6)https://t.co/bADPHpI2PU
— Judicial Watch 🔎 (@JudicialWatch) January 15, 2019
Lamberth called Clinton’s use of a private email account “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency” and said the State and Justice Departments response “smacks of outrageous misconduct,” according to Fox.
Immediately after the Benghazi attack, Rice, who was the U.N. ambassador at the time, appeared on five Sunday news shows to claim it was a spontaneous outbreak of violence triggered by protests over an anti-Islam video.
Lamberth specifically cited Rice’s talking points in those appearances in his ruling.
According to The Washington Examiner, both the Justice Department and the State Department pushed for the talking parts to not be included in the discovery.
However, Lamberth ruled differently.
“Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case,” Lamberth wrote in his 16-page order, according to Fox.
“State’s role in the (talking) points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from (Freedom of Information Act) requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.”
Along with being able to question Rice and Rhodes in writing, Judicial Watch will have the right to depose Jacob Sullivan, Clinton’s former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, and Justin Cooper who served as a Bill Clinton aide and helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email address and server, Fox News reported.
Judicial Watch will also be allowed to seek written answers from Bill Priestap, who served as the former assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
Priestap reportedly supervised the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email use.
Othe depositions could be in the future.
Fitton’s group will have a discovery period of 120 days, which will be followed by a post-discovery hearing to determine whether additional witnesses, including Hillary Clinton and her former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, may be deposed.