Judicial Watch today released the transcript of a court-ordered deposition of Jacob “Jake” Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s senior advisor and deputy chief of staff when she was secretary of state, in which the top staffer admits that both he and Clinton used her unsecure non-government email system to conduct official State Department business. A full transcript of the deposition is available here.
Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery centered upon whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system and whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
In the questioning, Sullivan admitted that he had used his personal Gmail account at times for State Department business but denied that he had sent classified information to Secretary Clinton’s unsecured personal system.
After Judicial Watch pointed out that on January 26, 2010, Sullivan sent a classified email with the subject line “call sheet,” Sullivan testified: “When I sent this email, my best judgment was that none of the material in it was classified, and I felt comfortable sending the email on an unclassified system. The material has subsequently been upclassified but at the time that I sent it, I did not believe that it was classified.”
Sullivan said in the deposition that he had not been concerned about Clinton’s use of a non-government email account, because it was not part of his job:
Like Secretary Clinton has said herself, I wish she had used a State Department account. It wasn’t really part of my job to be thinking about Secretary Clinton’s emails so I don’t think I sort of fell down directly in my job, but do I wish I had thought of it during the time we were at State. Of course. I mean, what human being at this point wouldn’t have thought of that?
Sullivan’s deposition is part of United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s order for senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap – to respond under oath to Judicial Watch questions.
A video of the Sullivan deposition exists but is under seal after the Justice Department and State Department, which opposed any discovery, objected to their public release. The court denied release of the video depositions for now and left the door open for reconsideration.
[T]he Court does not foreclose future releases of audiovisual recordings – in this or other cases. Judicial Watch may move to unseal portions of these recordings relied upon in future court filings. So too may it use the video recordings at trial, consistent with the Federal Rules of Evidence.
Judge Lamberth made the ruling in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Judicial Watch seeks:
Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
“A federal court wants answers on the Clinton email scandal and Mr. Sullivan is one of many witnesses Judicial Watch will question under oath,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is shameful that the Justice and State Departments continue to try to protect Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration on the email scandal.”
U.S District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides, as well as E.W. Priestap, to be deposed or answer written questions under oath. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”
Judicial Watch previously released interrogatory responses given under oath by E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, in which he stated that agency found Clinton email records in the Obama White House, specifically, the Executive Office of the President.