Judge says Clinton aides can keep videos of their depositions in email case secret - but orders release of transcripts

  • Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff Cheryl Mills asked a federal judge to limit the release of her deposition to a transcript
  • Lawyers for the ex-Clinton aide said they're concerned about video or audio snippets being 'publicized in a way that exploits Ms. Mills' image' 
  • Testimony from State's Lewis Lukens revealed that he believed Clinton was only using her personal email to contact friends and family
  • Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Bryan Pagliano are also scheduled to give depositions in the case - and Clinton be called on, too

Hillary Clinton's former aides won't have to watch their testimony in a case involving her emails air on television networks any time soon.

A federal judge granted Clinton's former chief of staff Cheryl Mills' wish on Thursday that video of their depositions be kept under wraps.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said transcripts must be made available publicly, however, because taxpayers have 'a right to know' why Clinton set up a server in her home and created a personal email network that some of her aides also used. 

Mills is due to testify today in the email case brought by a conservative watchdog group. 

State's Lewis Lukens revealed in testimony that was released this week that he believed Clinton was only using her personal email to contact friends and family.

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Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff Cheryl Mills' lawyers asked a federal judge to limit the release of a deposition she's recording today, saying video and audio could be used to 'exploit' her. He granted their request

The separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuit is a separate legal case entirely from the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server and it deals with Huma Abedin's unique work arrangement as a State Department employee who was allowed to work in the private sector at the same time

And he said he did not know it was through her own, Clinton.com email system. Rather, he 'assumed that she was using a commercially available email account.'

Lukens said he offered to set Clinton up with a 'stand-alone' computer in her office, a secure zone, that bypassed State's network so she could be 'connected to the internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check emails from her desk.' 

'And at that point, as far as I knew, there was no requirement for her to be connected to our system,' he said in a deposition last week.

In order to log into State's system she would have had to a government email address.

A computer was never set up for Clinton, however. Lukens said in his testimony that he was subsequently informed that Clinton 'does not know how to use a computer to do email.'

The cabinet official used a Blackberry to check her emails. Because she was unable to use it in her office, she would go into the hall to check her messages, he explained, saying he saw her do it 'on occasion.'

Lukens was of first of six witnesses that a court said must testify to sit for a deposition in the case that stems from Clinton aide Huma Abedin's unusual arrangement with State that allowed her to work there and for private companies at the same time. 

Abedin and other aides were ordered by the court to testify after Sullivan found there was 'at least a reasonable suspicion' that they colluded to keep their online communications out of the hands of federal recordkeepers.

His testimony was released on the same day that Sullivan agreed to a request from Mills' lawyers asking that video or audio of her testimony not be released in the Judicial Watch case, citing the aide's 'personal privacy.' 

'The depositions permitted by the Court are limited in scope, but relate to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email practices during her tenure at the State Department,' Sullivan wrote. 

The federal judge said, 'The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available. It is therefore unnecessary to also make the audiovisual recording of Ms. Mills' deposition public.'

Sullivan suggested audio and video could be released at some point in the future while allowing those records to be sealed for now. 

State's Lewis Lukens revealed in testimony that was released this week that he believed Clinton was only using her personal email to contact friends and family

In their request, Mills' lawyers, Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh, said, according to Politico, that they were 'concerned that snippets or soundbites of the deposition may be publicized in a way that exploits Ms. Mills' image and voice in an unfair and misleading manner,''Ms Mills is not a party to this action.'

'She is a private citizen appearing voluntarily to assist in providing the limited discovery the Court has permitted ... Judicial Watch should not be allowed manipulate Ms. Mills' testimony, and invade her personal privacy, to advance a partisan agenda that should have nothing to do with this litigation.'   

The motion mentioned that Mills would be OK with a transcript of her testimony being released, however.

Still, the State Department has said it may object to a transcript of the testimony being released if it strays too far away from what the judge's order says can be found in the discovery process. 

Judicial Watch wanted the videos released, but the group's president told Politico on Thursday he was pleased that Sullivan at least said the transcripts must be made public immediately.

'He put off for another day the audiovisual copies and if they will be released,' Fitton said. 'Certainly,. the judge reaffirming the public's right to know is nothing we're going to be complaining about.'

Other aides for Clinton are also scheduled to give depositions in the coming weeks including the former secretary of state's ex-IT staffer Bryan Pagliano, who set up Clinton's homebrew server at her house in New York and Huma Abedin, now serving as the chair of her presidential campaign.  

There's also still a chance that Clinton could have to testify, as well.

Earlier this month, Sullivan OKed the discovery plan hashed out between the conservative group and the State Department. 

Sullivan's order called for testimony from Mills, Pagliano, Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, former executive secretary Stephen Mull and former Executive Secretariat executive director Lewis Lukens all to be taken over an eight-week time period, which will conclude in late June. 

This is a separate case from the ongoing FBI investigation into Clinton's email server.  

'The circumstances surrounding approval of Mrs. Clinton's use of clintonemail.com for official government business, as well as the manner in which it was operated, are issues that need to be explored in discovery to enable the Court to resolve, as a matter of law, the adaquacy of the State Department's search of relevant records in response to Judicial Watch's FOIA request,' the judge wrote.