Obama Administration Withholds Draft Indictment of Hillary Clinton*
Judicial Watch announced today that it is asking a federal court to order the National Archives and Records Administration to release draft criminal indictments of Hillary Clinton. In its motion for summary judgment, the National Archives claimed that
“the drafts involve a significant [Clinton] privacy interest that is not outweighed by any public interest….”
In its March 11 opposition brief, Judicial Watch counters that allegedly
“making false statements and withholding evidence from federal investigators bears on Mrs. Clinton’s honesty, credibility, and trustworthiness … for the position she currently seeks,” rendering the National Archives claim “neither serious nor credible.”
These developments stem from an October 20, 2015, Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration (No. 15-cv-01740)) seeking:
All versions of indictments against Hillary Rodham Clinton, including but not limited to, Versions 1, 2, and 3 in box 2250 of the Hickman Ewing Attorney Files, the “HRC/_ Draft Indictment” in box 2256 of the Hickman Ewing Attorney Files, as well as any and all versions written by Deputy Independent Counsel Hickman Ewing, Jr. prior to September of 1996.
The draft indictments relate to allegations that Clinton provided false information and withheld evidence from federal investigators to conceal her involvement with the defunct Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, the collapse of which lead to multiple criminal convictions. Clinton provided legal representation to Madison Guaranty as an attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. Clinton’s Rose Law Firm billing records, long sought by prosecutors, were found in the private quarters of the White House shortly after an important statute of limitations had expired.
In its motion for summary judgment, the National Archives confirmed that it has located the Clinton draft indictments, stating, “Included among the records of Mr. Starr and his successors are drafts of a proposed indictment of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” It adds, “Box 2250 contains a folder labeled ‘Draft Indictment.’ Box 2256 contains a folder labelled ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton/Webster L. Hubbell Draft Indictment.’ Multiple drafts of the proposed indictment of Mrs. Clinton were located by NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] within these folders.”
The National Archives claims that Clinton’s right to privacy supersedes the public interest concerning the draft indictments. It also claims that the release would violate grand jury secrecy protections and that Mrs. Clinton has ‘a strong interest in not being associated unwarrantedly with alleged criminal activity.’
The National Archives asserts:
While there may be a scintilla of public interest in these documents since Mrs. Clinton is presently a Democratic presidential candidate, that fact alone is not a cognizable public interest under FOIA, as disclosure of the draft indictments would not shed light on what the government is up to.
Judicial Watch counters that the public interest in finding what Mrs. Clinton was up to in the White House is paramount:
[A]t the time Mrs. Clinton was being investigated by the independent counsel for making false statements and withholding evidence from federal investigators, she was First Lady of the United States. The alleged false statements and withholding of evidence also allegedly occurred while Mrs. Clinton was First Lady of the United States. The D.C. Circuit has found that, as First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Clinton was an officer of the United States, at least for purposes of the Federal Advisory Committee Act….
Obviously, making false statements and withholding evidence from federal investigators bears on Mrs. Clinton’s honesty, credibility, and trustworthiness, not only as First Lady, but also in her subsequent government service as a U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State and for the position she currently seeks … The Archives’ assertions to the contrary are neither serious nor credible.
In its opposition brief, Judicial Watch also notes that when it comes to any grand jury secrecy, “there is no secrecy left to protect:”
Finally, enormous amounts of grand jury information about the independent counsel’s investigation of the First Lady have already been made public and are widely available. The relevant section of the January 5, 2001 Final Report [by the independent counsel] – which, again, the D.C. Circuit approved for publication and which is readily available on the Government Publishing Office’s website – cites to, references, or quotes testimony from at least 25 grand jury appearances by 21 witnesses between 1995 and 1998… Once published, independent counsel reports effectively eliminate grand jury secrecy. Similarly, the 206-page “Summary of Evidence” produced by the Archives to Judicial Watch pursuant to a separate FOIA request also discloses even more grand jury information.
In response to a separate Judicial Watch FOIA investigation, the National Archives released 246 pages of previously undisclosed Office of Independent Counsel internal memos revealing extensive details about the investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton for possible criminal charges involving her involvement with Madison Guaranty, including the infamous Whitewater/Castle Grande land transaction. The memos are “statements of the case” against Hillary Clinton and Webster Lee “Webb” Hubbell, Hillary Clinton’s former law partner and former Associate Attorney General in the Clinton Justice Department. Ultimately, the memos show that prosecutors declined to prosecute Clinton because of the difficulty of persuading a jury to convict a public figure as widely known as Clinton.
“It is absurd for the Obama administration to argue that Hillary Clinton’s privacy would keep a draft indictment from the American public,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.
“One can’t help but conclude that the Obama administration is doing a political favour for Hillary Clinton at the expense of the public’s right to know about whether prosecutors believed she may have committed federal crimes.”
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