A federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied a request by the conservative group Judicial Watch to make Rice and Rhodes sit for depositions, but agreed to have them answer written questions. He also agreed to Judicial Watch’s request to depose the State Department about the preparation of talking points for Rice, then President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, ahead of appearances on political talk shows the Sunday following the attack. That deposition is part of Judicial Watch’s inquiry into whether the State Department acted in bad faith by not telling a court for months that they had asked in mid-2014 for missing emails to be returned.
Rice initially claimed on several talk shows that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was triggered by protests over an anti-Islam video. The attack resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
“Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case,” Lamberth wrote in a 16-page order.