November 26, 2001 9:36 AM

Judicial Watch victory: Federal court rules Commerce Department must turn over attorney documents in landmark Chinagate case.

Criminal Phase Likely Next for Commerce FOIA Case

Court Ruled Clinton Commerce Department Improperly Withheld Documents - Ex-Clinton Officials Will Be Deposed

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced that a federal court ordered that the Commerce Department must turn over attorney documents to Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the sale of Clinton Commerce Department trade mission seats in exchange for campaign contributions. It was this FOIA case which first exposed accused spy John Huang to public scrutiny and, according to Fox News, "got the ball rolling" on the Chinagate scandal.

In a November 16, 2001 order, The Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, citing "egregious misconduct by DOC [Department of Commerce] officials in an attempt to withhold certain [FOIA] documents from production," ruled that the Commerce Department must produce certain documents created by its attorneys concerning the FOIA search. (Through its investigation, Judicial Watch uncovered evidence that the Commerce Department attorneys, working in concert with officials at the Clinton White House, illegally withheld documents concerning the illegal sale of Commerce trade mission seats. Nolanda Hill, late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's business partner and paramour, also testified before Judge Lamberth that the scheme to sell the Commerce trade mission seats for political contributions was conceived of by Hillary Clinton and implemented by Bill Clinton and Al Gore.)

In another ruling last week, Judge Lamberth ruled that discovery in the seven year old case will come to a close in 90 days. Other witnesses to be deposed, per the Court's order, include ex-Clinton White House lawyers Bruce Lindsey and Cheryl Mills. Following the close of discovery, Judicial Watch will ask the Court that Clinton White House and Commerce Department officials who obstructed the court's orders to produce documents be held in criminal contempt of court. Judge Lamberth has already said that he would entertain such motions.