WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton's lawyer told a federal judge Monday that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has already answered enough questions about her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
David Kendall appeared at a hearing on whether a conservative legal group should be granted its request to interview Clinton under oath. The group, Judicial Watch, has filed multiple lawsuits seeking records related to Clinton's tenure as the nation's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
If allowed, a videotaped sworn deposition by Clinton would likely become fodder for attack ads in the presidential race. Republican officials have said repeatedly they plan to hammer the issue of her emails through the November election.
Kendall told U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that Clinton has previously testified under oath before the congressional committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks and was interviewed for hours as part of the FBI's recently closed criminal investigation. Both times Clinton said her choice to use a private server located in the basement of her New York home was motivated by convenience, not any attempt to thwart potential public-records requests.
Kendall said further questioning would be "futile."
"The answer is not going to change: It was a matter of convenience," Clinton's lawyer told the judge.
Kendall also cited case law that says current and former cabinet secretaries and department heads should only be subjected to depositions under extraordinary circumstances, adding that the lawsuit at issue failed to meet that legal standard.
Sullivan previously authorized Judicial Watch to question seven current and former State Department officials, including Clinton's Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin. They have gained access to reams of emails and other documents.
Judicial Watch lawyer Michael Bekesha told Sullivan that those prior interviews, while useful, did not explain Clinton's choice to forgo a government email account in favor of her private one. Only Clinton could adequately answer why she made that choice, he said.
"We are not on a witch hunt here," Bekesha said. "The question is: 'What was she hiding on the personal system?'"
The group also wants to question two officials who were in charge of records retention processes at the State Department during Clinton's time. The government opposes that request, though it has taken no position on whether Clinton herself should be questioned.
Last year, Clinton handed over roughly 55,000 pages of her work-related emails to the State Department for potential release, but withheld and deleted a similar number she said dealt solely with such personal matters as family vacations and plans for her daughter's wedding.
However, as part of its investigation the FBI turned up "several thousand" additional work related emails that Clinton failed to provide. The FBI will be providing copies of those to the State Department in batches starting Friday, according to the government.
Lawyers for the State Department asked Sullivan to delay any decision on the deposition until after those new emails are reviewed for potential release, a process that could take weeks or months.
In a pointed question to Kendall, the judge asked how much time Clinton and her team might need to respond if he were to allow Judicial Watch to submit written questions, rather than approving an in-person deposition. Kendall initially said two weeks, before extending his estimate to the maximum 30 days allowed by statute.
Sullivan gave no indication Monday of when he might rule.
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