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First Deposition Released on Clinton Email Case

by Eric Zuesse

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The U.S. Ambassador, Lewis Lukens’s, sworn testimony in the case of Hillary Clinton’s privatization of the U.S. Secretary of State’s email is the first evidence to be released in the Clinton email cases, and it was published on May 26th at the website of Judicial Watch, the organization that originally brought the suit. Headlining “First Deposition Testimony from Clinton Email Discovery Released”, it reported that:

Judicial Watch today released the deposition transcript of Ambassador Lewis Lukens, former deputy assistant secretary of state and executive director of the State Department’s executive secretariat. The transcript is available here. Amb. Lukens was deposed last week as part of the discovery granted to Judicial Watch by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in response to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecured, non-government email system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).

Lukens is the first of seven depositions of former Clinton top aides and State Department officials that Judicial Watch has scheduled over the next four weeks. Also to be deposed are Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, as well as top State Department official Patrick Kennedy, and former State IT employee Bryan Pagliano.

In his testimony, Lukens described his State Department role:

I’ve been a Foreign Service officer for 27 years. I’ve served in Southern China; in the Ivory Coast; in Sydney, Australia; in Dublin, Ireland; in Baghdad; Vancouver, British Columbia; Dakar, Senegal; and three tours in Washington, D.C., as well as my current position in San Francisco.

While Clinton was Secretary of State, his role was heading “logistics and management support” and he had “roughly 110 employees working for me” including the “IRM” or Information Resource Management team. Also, during his questioning, he was asked “You traveled with Mrs. Clinton on all of her foreign travel?” while he was employed there, and he answered: “Yes.”

Representative excerpts from his testimony will be presented here:

While Clinton’s office was being prepared for her:

Q: Do you know if Mrs. Clinton — if the IRM office set up an e-mail address for Mrs. Clinton?
A: I don’t believe they did.
Q: Do you know why they didn’t?
A: I don’t think it was asked for.
Q: Would Mrs. Clinton have — was it required for Mrs. Clinton to ask for an e-mail address for one to be assigned to her?
A: Yes.
Q: Was it unusual — at the time did you think it was unusual that Mrs. Clinton didn’t want an e-mail address assigned to her?
A: No.
Q: Why not?
A: I’m not aware of former Secretaries of State having e-mail addresses on our system.

In other words: her having an e-mail address assigned to her was “required,” but the custom at the U.S. Department of State was to ignore this ‘requirement’.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Regardless of whether violating the regulations or even the law has been ignored in the past, violations are supposed to be punished or prosecuted. Prior refusal to prosecute does not constitute legal excuse for continuing refusal to prosecute: it instead constitutes a government in which some persons who are supposedly in the service of, and who are definitely being paid by, the public, are, in practice, above the regulations or even the laws — in other words, a dictatorship. However, this aspect of the questioning was not pursued.)

Lukens then said that her violation on that matter was ignored and that a “BB” or Blackberry account was instead requested by “HRC’ Hillary Rodham Clinton. Lukens’s notes indicated that he had asked HRC’s agent, “On the BB for HRC, can we chat this morning?” and “I may have thought of a workaround [to evade the State Department’s regulations] but need more info on her BB use.” He explained during this questioning of him: “So the crux of the issue was that BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the Secretary’s office suite, so the question was, how is the Secretary going to be able to check her e-mails if she’s not able to have the Blackberry at her desk with her.”

Q: And so what did you — did you propose a solution at that point?
A: So my proposal was to set up a computer on her desk, a standalone computer [not part of the State Department’s system], for her to be able to access the Internet to check her e-mails [privatized — and therefore not subject to FOIA requests or historians’ investigations].

However, Clinton’s agent insisted on a private computer also being set up “across the hall” “for her to check her BlackBerry” even though no private BlackBerry was allowed on the premises. This was to be the “workaround.”

In an email, Lukens had written, and the questioner referenced it:

Also think we should go ahead, but will await your green light, and set up a standalone PC in the Secretary’s office connected to the Internet, but not go through our system, to enable her to check her e-mails from her desk.”

That proposal was accepted and was done. Then:

Q: Do you know if this setup would have been any different from the setup of other employees?
A: Yes, this would have been different.
Q: How would it have been different?
A: My understanding is that most of the employees’ computers in the State Department are connected through the State Department’s OpenNet e-mail system …
Q: So this would have been separate from the OpenNet system?
A: Correct.

He was asked why he had proposed this solution, and he said it was “For ease of access” and, “as far as I knew, there was no requirement for her to be connected to our system” (even though he had earlier said that her having an email address assigned to her in the State Department’s system, the OpenNet system, was “required”). He said that the “ease of access” would be because of there being “fewer passwords.”

He was asked whether doing things this way was necessary in order for her to be able to access the Internet from the State Department, and he said, ”the Internet is available” to employees at the office, just as anywhere.

He was asked about the inconvenience of the State Department’s passwords system, and he said that he eliminated her need for any passwords:

A: She wouldn’t have had a password.
Q: So the computer would have just been open and be able to use without going through any security features?
A: Correct.

Though he was paid by U.S. taxpayers, apparently his only concern was to please his superiors, whom he trusted unquestioningly despite their evident unconcern about “security” etc.

In further questioning of Mr. Lukens, it became clear that he never gave any thought to what the purpose behind the State Department’s regulations was: he didn’t even notice that Hillary Clinton’s buddy and top aide Huma Abedin at the Department was also using only a private email account — even though he regularly had been communicating via email with her.

There were many instances in the questioning, in which the U.S. Department of ‘Justice’s attorney there, Caroline Lewis Wolverton, was trying to hamper the attorney for Judicial Watch from asking questions of Mr. Lukens, such as this:

Q: At any point during these conversations or during these e-mails or others did you find it unusual that Ms. Abedin was using a non-state.gov e-mail account?
MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Vague.
Q: When sending these e-mails to Ms. Abedin, did you think about the fact that they were not — you were sending e-mails to her non-state.gov e-mail account?
A: Not that I recall.
Q: Thinking about it now, do you think it’s — was it rare to send emails to State Department employees on another e-mail account but the one that was assigned by the State Department?
MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Vague.
Q: Was this unusual, sending e-mail — was it unusual for you to send emails to Ms. Abedin on a non-state.gov account?
MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Lack of foundation.
Q: During your four years, did you communicate with — sorry, during the two years of overlap, did you communicate with Ms. Abedin by e-mail?
A: Yes.
Q: Was it frequent?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you recall — during that time, did you recall sending e-mails to her state.gov e-mail account?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you recall — before receiving these exhibits, did you recall sending e-mails to a non-state.gov account?
A: No.
Q: Do you recall thinking at any point about where you were sending e-mails to Ms. Abedin?
A: No.
Q: Do you recall if Ms. Abedin ever told you what e-mail accounts to use for her?
A: No.
Q: Do you recall how you — do you know how you would have received the e-mail account that was used to send these e-mails?
MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Lack of foundation.
Q: Do you recall — I’ll ask the question again. Do you recall how you learned where to send these e-mails, or how you learned of the e-mail address that you used to send these e-mails?
A: I must have received an e-mail from her at some point from that address.
Q: So this may have been an auto fill on your BlackBerry or Outlook when you were sending these?
MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Objection, calls for speculation.
Q: Would this — to ask the question again, was it most likely an auto fill feature or do you think you would have manually entered in her e-mail account to send her these e-mails?
MS. WOLVERTON: Same objection.
MR. BEKESHA [representing the Questioner, but now addressing the lawyer for the ‘Justice’ Department]: Are you instructing the witness not to answer?
MS. WOLVERTON: No.
Q: Would you like me to repeat the question?
A: Yes, please.
Q: Would this — would you have sent these e-mails using this e-mail address because of an auto fill feature on a piece of computer equipment or because you would have manually typed in her e-mail address?
MS. WOLVERTON: Same objection.
A: I would say because of the auto fill feature.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

12 Comments

  1. bevin says

    This is about influence peddling on a ,massive scale. And 30000 emails, which, under the law, ought to have been kept on record for the future, being deleted.
    The Republicans are right, for once, this case should be handed over to a Special Prosecutor, the Attorney General and President have a clear conflict of interest.
    As the transcript shows the Attorney General’s lawyer is running interference to protect the presumed nominee of the the Democratic party.
    the Intercept today reports that the head of Goldman Sachs invested in the Hedge Fund that Hillary’s son in law set up. An unwise decision as it turned out because the Fund invested heavily in Greek economic growth. Maybe it thought the Secretary of State could do something to tame the Troika.

    Like

    • wardropper says

      This is not because “the Republicans are right for once”.
      There are apparently over a million White House emails “missing” from G.W.’s time there and that wasn’t because the Democrats are right for once either.
      I hope we can all remember that party politics is not a good enough smoke screen for individual wrongdoing, since the party never has to go to jail or pay the fine.

      Like

  2. I am not an HRC fan at all but this:

    “In other words: her having an e-mail address assigned to her was “required,” but the custom at the U.S. Department of State was to ignore this ‘requirement’.”

    is an error. The statement it is in response to read as follows:

    “Q: Would Mrs. Clinton have — was it required for Mrs. Clinton to ask for an e-mail address for one to be assigned to her?
    A: Yes.”

    The requirement was for her to ask for an email address (if one was desired) — NOT to have an email address assigned to her. At least that would be my reading.

    Like

  3. spectacular failure says

    Come off it Major Sabb (retired), criticism of Clinton’s devious ploy to avoid transparency in her official duties is hardly ‘America bashing’. I imagine your claims of helping weak nations might just bring a wry smile to anyone unaffected by interventions in Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan and I would guess the inhabitants of these countries had rather wished you hadn’t decided to ‘help’. Unlike you, pride in my nationality is a distant memory and in any case, we have no input into where we are born, which renders nationalism a rather strange notion.
    Lastly, I can’t see the point in military memorials. Young men dying in wars for no good reason is primarily caused by politicians (whose family are kept well away from any harm) so to watch them appear at these memorials as concerned, lip trembling leaders sickens me . By the way, did you mean hundreds of thousands of US soldiers died, not millions?

    Liked by 1 person

    • raymondsabb says

      Hmmm, bold words for a ghost. At least I don’t hide my identity behind a screen name such as “spectacular failure”. Therefore your comment has no merit and as such I will ignore it.

      Like

  4. Dorothy says

    “Would Mrs. Clinton have — was it required for Mrs. Clinton to ask for an e-mail address for one to be assigned to her?” Your comment “In other words: her having an e-mail address assigned to her was “required,” but the custom at the U.S. Department of State was to ignore this ‘requirement’.”

    You haven’t nailed anything there – it also reads that if she wanted an email address, she had to ask for one. No requirement for her to have one because if it was a departmental requirement, it should have been done automatically..

    Like

  5. raymondsabb says

    Why don’t you folks in Europe stop beating us up over here. It we had not intervened in Europe you would have a dictator ruling over you all. Not as someone said (Russia won the war.) America lost millions of soldiers fighting for your freedom and to this day we have cemetery’s Scattered about in Europe with the remains of our loved ones buried on your soil. Can’t say that about America having Europes loved ones buried here now can you. So this (Our Memorial Day) where we honor those who went before us here at home and on YOUR soil, call a truce to the Let’s Bash America campaign will you……… And because I do not hide behind screen names when I call out people here you go.
    I am Major Raymond Sabb, USArmy Retired. I said all that and am proud to say I am an American. With all our charms and faults, all our ethnic diversities and all our problems, we are still a nation that gives those who are weaker the strength and freedom to be strong in their beliefs, good, bad or indifferent we are a nation of many formed into a nation of one. Wishing you all a Safe Memorial Day because it is not just our Memorial Day, it is all of ours as we remember those who gave their all for our freedom world wide. – editor@mainattraction.net

    Like

    • Jen says

      This is an inappropriate place to be trolling. You do not know the nationalities of the people who set up this website so you cannot say Off-Guardian.org is European. Even if they all were, they have every right to post articles written by Americans, such as Mr Zuesse is. If you have a beef with the article about a presidential candidate (whose husband incidentally avoided the Vietnam War draft by going to a university in the UK, about the same that his successor as President of the US also avoided the draft by being enrolled in a flight squad), you should address the points it is making.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes, “the price of freedom” that only Americans pay and the not the countless millions extirpated in that selfless sacrifice. Funny, that, that the exceptional nation has its citizens dying all around the globe defending everyone from themselves while no one yet but American Indians and Black Slaves and Americans themselves have bled into the sacred soil of the God blessed Nation. Did you get a chance to read Pilger’s “Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War?” You can find it, here, on this website, a click or two away . . .

      Liked by 3 people

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