A federal judge backed a request by one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides from her time at the State Department to prevent video of her testimony in ongoing legal proceedings from being released to the public.
In a filing Wednesday, attorneys for former State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to bar the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch from releasing the video, which is part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit related to Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Mills’ lawyers say they asked Judicial Watch directly to withhold the video, but the group refused.
“That refusal raises a serious concern that Judicial Watch plans to use the recording of Ms. Mills’ deposition, and exploit her image and words, as part of a partisan attack against Secretary Clinton and her presidential campaign,” they write. “Judicial Watch’s long-standing antagonism to the secretary is a matter of public record.”
Judicial Watch countered with their own filing Thursday, arguing there was a public interest in the case.
But while Sullivan said he agreed the public had “a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system,” he was persuaded by Mills’ argument that the public interest could be served by releasing the transcripts without accompanying video recordings.
Earlier this month, Sullivan approved Judicial Watch’s request to interview current and former State Department aides in an effort to explain the circumstances under which Clinton was able to establish a private email server as secretary.
The group, which has filed more than a dozen FOIA lawsuits against the State Department in the past year, many of which have have shed light on Clinton’s email practices, will interview Mills on Friday.
Regardless of how Sullivan rules with respect to Mills’ request, Judicial Watch will be able to release a written transcript of their deposition interview.
Judicial Watch interviewed another former State Department staffer, Lewis Lukens, last week, and is expected to release the transcript from that interview Thursday, according to a Judicial Watch spokesperson.
The group is seeking to interview Clinton as part of a separate lawsuit.
Mills request came the same day a State Department Inspector General’s report criticized both Clinton and the State Department for failure to properly archive communications.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told CNN Wednesday the results of that report are likely to guide their questions as they interview Clinton’s aides in the coming weeks.