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Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court shielded Hillary Clinton’s top State Department official from scrutiny regarding his use of a personal e-mail account for official business.
Gawker asked then-D.C. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for information about press aide Philippe Reines’s stewardship of the account in 2015, in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The emails Reines sent out to 34 different news outlets were sought in that lawsuit.
Gawker’s request was rejected by Jackson, who called it “extraordinary” and claimed Reines had acted in bad faith by using a personal email address.
In a similar fashion to Clinton, Reines used his personal email account to communicate with the press.
As a result, his communications were not saved on State Department systems.
After Gawker requested Reines’s email records under the Freedom of Information Act in September 2012, State Department officials were unable to locate relevant materials, prompting the lawsuit.
Two years after leaving government service, Reines was asked by the State Department to turn over any documents he still had in his possession during the time of the Gawker lawsuit. He did so through his attorneys in July 2015. In response, Jackson agreed to give the State Department more time to sort through the “new” Reines records and pass them on to Gawker. During that process, Jackson supervised the process and the parties’ attorneys kept her informed of their progress via status hearings and reports.
In an attempt to get Reines to turn over all relevant documents, Gawker sought affidavits from him detailing his methods of surrendering records to the State.
“It is difficult to view the timeline of events surrounding the compilation of records responsive to Gawker’s FOIA request as anything short of a bureaucratic and managerial catastrophe,” Gawker’s lawyers wrote in a 2015 court filing. “State has provided scant information regarding why it was not until 2015 that it finally sought to gather the records from Mr. Reines.”
As a result, Jackson denied the request, calling it “extraordinary.” She argued that the State Department was not required to turn over documents in the sole possession of an ex-official under FOIA. She said there’s an important difference between the act of producing requested documents — which falls within the scope of FOIA — and the act of deciding whether to keep said documents.
“An agency’s threshold determination regarding which records to retain in its files is entirely distinct from the agency’s subsequent search of maintained records pursuant to the FOIA—and these two duties should not be conflated,” Jackson wrote, denying Gawker’s request.
Jackson had only delivered one opinion over the course of the litigation.
Jackson’s opinion diverged from that of her colleague on the Washington federal trial court, District Judge Emmet Sullivan. In a separate lawsuit, Sullivan demanded that two of Clinton’s top aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, provide affidavits along the lines Gawker was seeking. The request made by Gawker referred to Sullivan’s order and may have been based on it.
Jackson described the Reines case as different because the email system used by Clinton was designed to skirt FOIA altogether. In the Reines-Gawker dispute, she stated that there was a “total absence of any indicia of bad faith” on Reines’s part.
Indeed, Reines specifically stated, “I want to avoid FOIA” in February 2009, around the time he joined the State Department, he exchanged emails from his personal account with John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. It appears that this indication of bad faith did not exist in the record before Jackson, as far as reporters could tell.
Jackson served nearly a decade on the federal district court for Washington, DC before being moved to the DC Circuit last year by Biden. She was also a clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer and has long been considered to be a front-runner for the position of his replacement.
Biden announced last week that he had appointed Clinton confidante and Kamal Harris-bestie Minyon Moore to help him select the first black woman on the Supreme Court.
But he didn’t mention that she’s a Black Lives Matter board member, promotes CRT, and supports the Defund the Police movement.
Moore has a long history of supporting Jesse Jackson in his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns.
Moore’s history was soft-pedaled by the president when he announced his intention to form a board of advisors to advise him on selecting Moore for the Supreme Court and his confirmation.
Senator Ted Cruz also drew attention to Biden last Sunday, as he ramped up his attacks against the president’s strategy for choosing a Supreme Court nominee, claiming that it’s illegal for anyone else to specify the race and gender of job applicants.
‘Democrats today believe in racial discrimination,’ Cruz said Sunday on Fox News.
‘They’re committed to it as a political proposition. I think it is wrong to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to discriminate.’
‘If he happened to nominate a justice who was an African-American woman, great,’ he continued.
‘But you know what, if Fox News put a posting, we’re looking for a new host for Fox News Sunday and we will only hire an African American woman or a Hispanic man or a Native American woman, that would be illegal.’
The Republican Party’s top conservatives – including Mike Pence – have voiced concerns over Biden’s promise, saying he may be overlooking the most qualified candidate for the job.