Clinton Aide Ducks Email Questions in Deposition, Citing Attorney-Client Privilege

Cheryl Mills questioned for hours by Judicial Watch lawyers

Cheryl Mills
Cheryl Mills / AP
• June 1, 2016 12:40 pm


A longtime aide to Hillary Clinton repeatedly dodged questions about the secretary of state’s email set-up during a court deposition last Friday, citing attorney-client privilege.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, was questioned for seven hours by lawyers for the watchdog group Judicial Watch. A federal judge previously ruled that the group could depose State Department officials to determine whether Clinton’s private email server was used to intentionally evade public records laws.

Since Clinton left the State Department in 2013, Mills has also been serving as her personal attorney. She represented Clinton when the former secretary of state was ordered to turn over official emails to the State Department in 2014.

Mills said she "began representing the Secretary when she departed from the department on a number of matters, but this matter [producing emails] when it came up, she asked me to assist her on it."

Mills and her attorneys repeatedly invoked attorney-client privilege and other objections during the deposition when asked about the set-up of Clinton’s email server, her conversations with Clinton’s tech aides, and details about Clinton’s legal representation.

Mills was represented by four Department of Justice attorneys and three personal lawyers during the deposition.

When an attorney for Judicial Watch asked about discussions between Clinton’s tech assistant Bryan Pagliano and Mills regarding "the setup of the server," an attorney for Mills, Beth Wilkinson, cut off the question.

"I'm representing Ms. Mills, as we know, and she represents Hillary Clinton as her personal lawyer. And you are now asking about work she has done for Hillary Clinton as her lawyer," said Wilkinson. "And it is beyond the scope of the permissible discovery, and so I am instructing her not to answer."

When asked to specify which matters Mills was representing Clinton on, her attorneys objected to the question. Wilkinson also advised Mills not to answer questions about which other lawyers were representing Clinton, or whether Mills ever represented Pagliano.

It is not the first testy exchange between Mills’ legal team and interviewers. Mills and her attorneys reportedly walked out of an interview last month with FBI investigators and Department of Justice attorneys, after her lawyers argued that some questions were supposed to be off limits.

According to the Washington Post, Mills’s lawyers and the Department of Justice had agreed to limit the questions to specific subjects, "and [DOJ] prosecutors were somewhat taken aback that their FBI colleague had ventured beyond what was anticipated."

Her legal team also reportedly invoked attorney-client privilege during the FBI interview, due to Mills’ representation of Hillary Clinton.

Judicial Watch has been suing the State Department for documents from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. After Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server was revealed, the organization argued that there was evidence it was used to evade public records requests. A federal judge agreed to allow limited discovery related to the record keeping procedures under Clinton and the private email server.

Judicial Watch has also deposed State Department official Lewis Lukens in the case. Pagliano and Huma Abedin, another close aide to Clinton, are also scheduled for depositions.

Published under: Hillary Clinton