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US judge rules against Clinton giving sworn testimony over emails

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Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton does not need to give sworn testimony in a lawsuit brought by a conservative watchdog group over her use of an unauthorized private email system while she was U.S. secretary of state, a judge ruled on Friday.

Clinton must instead respond in writing within 30 days to questions submitted by Judicial Watch, a group that has long been critical of her conduct and which is suing the Department of State over Clinton-era records.

Judge Emmet Sullivan’s ruling in U.S. District Court in Washington is likely to be a relief to Democrats, who did not welcome the prospect of Clinton having to submit to hours of questioning by lawyers in the middle of her campaign for the Nov. 8 election against Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.

Clinton, who served as the country’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, has apologized for her decision to use the unorthodox email set-up, which had the effect of shielding her communications from public-records laws until the arrangement came to light last year.

Voters have said in opinion polls that the email server issue contributes to impressions that Clinton is untrustworthy. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded last month there were no grounds to prosecute Clinton for the arrangement following a year-long investigation.

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Sullivan has allowed Judicial Watch to obtain sworn testimony in sometimes testy exchanges with several Clinton aides in recent months, saying the court needs to establish whether the server was set up to thwart the Freedom of Information Act.

But the judge agreed with Clinton’s lawyers that former high-ranking government officials can be ordered to give sworn testimony only in “exceptional circumstances.”

Sullivan also allowed Judicial Watch to get sworn testimony from a former State Department official named John Bentel.

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According to a scathing report by the State Department’s inspector general, Bentel, then a technology official in Clinton’s office, told junior staffers to never speak of Clinton’s email server again after they raised concerns. Bentel and his lawyer have declined to comment on the episode.

A spokesman for Clinton could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Judicial Watch said it was happy with the ruling.

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“We will move quickly to get these answers,” Tom Fitton, the group’s president, said in a statement. “The decision is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not above the law.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen, additional reporting by Luciana Lopez; editing by Grant McCool)


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Elections 2016

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls

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When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered.

But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

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Elections 2016

Beto O’Rourke calls for a ‘war tax’ in release of health care plan for veterans

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The Democratic presidential candidate uses his eighth policy announcement to focus on an area that he prioritized in Congress.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday morning released a plan to improve the lives of veterans, returning to an area of priority during his time in the U.S. House for his latest 2020 policy rollout.

In keeping with measures he supported in Congress, the plan calls for a "responsible end" to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — reinvesting $1 out of every $2 saved in veterans programs — and the creation of a Veterans Health Care Trust Fund for each future war. The fund would be paid for by a "war tax" on households without service members or veterans.

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Elections 2016

Conservative Ben Shapiro tweeted something many found offensive — so now he’s calling his critics ‘garbage’

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Right wing "thought leader" Ben Shapiro appeared today to say not using the "N" word is nearly impossible as he defended conservative, pro-gun teen Kyle Kashuv, one of the Parkland survivors who just had his acceptance to Harvard rescinded over his racist remarks, which included repeated use of the "N" word.

To be clear, Shapiro denies that's what he meant.

Here is Shapiro on Twitter, in what many took as him appearing to call not using the "N" word – in Kashuv's case, repeatedly, over and over and over again, "an insane, cruel standard no one can possibly meet."

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