In a dramatic development that could lead to renewed focus on Hillary Clinton's email server scandal, NBC reports that the Romanian hacker who first exposed Hillary Clinton's private email address is making a "bombshell" new claim: that he also gained access to the former Secretary of State's "completely unsecured" server.
"It was like an open orchid on the Internet," Marcel Lehel Lazar, who is better known by his handle Guccifer which he used when he first unveiled the formerly unknown domain name of Hillary personal server one year ago, told NBC News in an exclusive interview from a prison in Bucharest. "There were hundreds of folders."
As previously reported, Lazar was extradited last month from Romania to the United States to face charges he hacked political elites, including Gen. Colin Powell, a member of the Bush family, and former Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal.
NBC further reports that according to a source with knowledge of the probe into Clinton's email setup told NBC News that with Guccifer in U.S. custody, investigators fully intend to question him about her server.
To this point Lazar, 44, has not provided documentation to back up his claims, nor has he released anything on-line supporting his allegations, as he had frequently done with past hacks. The FBI's review of the Clinton server logs showed no sign of hacking, according to a source familiar with the case.
Brian Fallon, national press secretary for Clinton's presidential campaign, said Guccifer's claims were baseless. "There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell," said Fallon. "In addition to the fact that he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton's server are inaccurate. It is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them the way he did to his other victims.
"We have received no indication from any government agency to support these claims, nor are they reflected in the range of charges that Guccifer already faces and that prompted his extradition in the first place," Fallon added. "And it has been reported that security logs from Secretary Clinton's email server do not show any evidence of foreign hacking."
That strawman, of course, now puts Hillary in harms way as it redoubles attention on a scandal that many had decided was likely going to blow over. All that Trump will have to do now is find confirmation that Lazar is telling the truth and suddenly Clinton's email transgressions will get a renewed lease on life at the worst possible moment, just as a federal judge opened the door to interviewing Hillary Clinton as part of a review into her use of a private email server while secretary of State.
All this is happening just as as Hillary thought she had managed to put her email scandals behind her.
According to The Hill, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia laid out the ground rules for interviewing multiple State Department officials about the emails, with an eye toward finishing the depositions in the weeks before the party nominating conventions.
Clinton herself may be forced to answer questions under oath, Sullivan said, though she is not yet being forced to take that step.
“Based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary,” Sullivan said in an order on Wednesday. [READ THE ORDER BELOW] Discovery is the formal name for the evidence-gathering process, which includes depositions.
“If plaintiff believes Mrs. Clinton’s testimony is required, it will request permission from the Court at the appropriate time.”
In his order, Sullivan pointed to revelations from the emails appearing to show officials trying to evade demands of FOIA.
In one email, for instance, Mull told Abedin that Clinton’s emails “would be subject to FOIA requests” if she used a department-issued BlackBerry, even though her identity would remain secret. Abedin responded that the idea “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
In February, Sullivan ruled that the evidence-gathering process could proceed, and the two sides have been haggling since then.
Sullivan had previously suggested that Clinton could be forced to respond to questions, but his order on Wednesday offered the clearest indication that it remains a real possibility.
The order comes in the course of a lawsuit from conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, and leaves open the possibility that Clinton will be forced to answer detailed questions on the eve of her formal selection as the Democratic presidential nominee about her creation of the server.
While it is unclear yet if Hillary will be deposed, Sullivan ordered at least six current and former State Department employees to answer questions from Judicial Watch, which has filed multiple lawsuits over the Clinton email case. Among these are longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, under secretary for management Patrick Kennedy, former executive secretary Stephen Mull and Bryan Pagliano, the IT official believed to be responsible for setting up and maintaining the server. The judge also ordered the State Department to prepare a formal answer about Clinton’s emails. Donald Reid, a senior security official, may also be asked to answer questions, if Judicial Watch so decides.
More importantly, that process is scheduled to be wrapped up within eight weeks, putting the deadline in the final week of June, and well ahead of the presidential election.
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Judicial Watch brought suit against the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in an effort to bring Abedin’s emails to light. The lawsuit has since evolved into a battleground over Clinton’s use of the private server.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called Wednesday’s order “a significant victory for transparency and accountability,” and promised that it would shine a light on Clinton’s email practices.
“Judicial Watch will use this discovery to get all of the facts behind Hillary Clinton’s and the Obama State Department’s thwarting of FOIA so that the public can be sure that all of the emails from her illicit email system are reviewed and released to the public as the law requires,” he said in a statement.
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Any deposition would surely roil the presidential race and force her campaign to confront the issue, which has dogged her for a year. Once again, this is precisely what Trump will pounce on and will be sure to make it the centerpiece of all his upcoming debates with