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Hillary Clinton ordered to answer written questions in civil lawsuit

 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton must answer questions in writing but need not appear for a deposition in a lawsuit that challenges her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, a federal judge ruled Friday. 

The decision, in a civil case filed by the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, lets the Democratic nominee avoid interrupting her presidential campaign to give a sworn deposition but it hardly puts the controversy to rest.

Judicial Watch wanted Clinton to answer questions in person about whether she used the server to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests. But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled her written responses would be sufficient.

The group has until Oct. 14 to submit the questions, and Clinton must respond within 30 days.

Clinton will "provide written answers under oath to some key questions about her email scandal," Tom Fitton, the group's president, said in a statement.

“We will move quickly to get these answers," he added. "The decision is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not above the law.” 

Clinton’s campaign dismissed the group’s efforts as a political ploy to embarrass her and undermine her campaign. 

“Judicial Watch is a right-wing organization that has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton. “This is just another lawsuit intended to try to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.”

The lawsuit already has obtained several previously unreleased emails that suggested some of Clinton's aides had sought to help the Clinton Foundation, a charity run by her husband and daughter, while she was still secretary of State.

In one message, a top Clinton aide appeared to try to help a wealthy donor get a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, after a Clinton Foundation executive had requested it.

Clinton faces several civil lawsuits stemming from her use of a private server, and damaging new emails could yet surface before election day.

The FBI declined to recommend criminal charges against her, however, after a lengthy investigation into whether she or her aides had misused classified information.

Clinton said this month that she had "short-circuited" her reply during a Fox News interview when she said FBI Director James  B. Comey had concluded her public statements on the issue were truthful.

He had not. Comey had said there was no evidence she had lied to the FBI during its investigation.

Times staff writer Evan Halper contributed to this report.

 

 

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