- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A federal judge in Florida has blocked a scheduled deposition of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in a civil lawsuit claiming the Clinton Foundation operated as a criminal enterprise.

The conservative watchdog group Freedom Watch, which brought the lawsuit against the Clintons, had scheduled separate videotaped depositions next week in Washington for the former president and first lady.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks on Tuesday granted a protective order requested by the Clintons’ lawyers that blocked the depositions until the court resolves their pending motion to dismiss the case and halt discovery. The judge’s order did not include the reasoning for his decision.

Judge Middlebrooks was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by Mr. Clinton in 1997.

The judge did not immediately respond to a phone call by The Washington Times asking why he did not recuse himself from the case.

The lawsuit, filed by Freedom Watch founder and former federal prosecutor Larry Klayman alleges the Clintons committed criminal violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and that Mrs. Clinton covered up the crimes destroying her personal emails sent during her time as secretary of state.

She would have given a deposition on the morning of July 28 in Washington, and Mr. Clinton would have give his the following morning, according to copies of the notices of deposition reviewed by The Washington Times.

Mrs. Clinton has been dogged by questions about her handling of email as America’s top diplomat, when she exclusively used a private email account to conduct official business and then, years later, deleted about half of the messages rather than turn them over to the Department of State.

At some point, she also wiped clean the server, permanently erasing all the messages.

Her use of private email account shielded her official correspondence from House investigators and from requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Freedom Watch lawsuit alleges that the Clintons — through mail and wire fraud, and various false statements — misappropriated documents that he requested under the Freedom of Information concerning the Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in releasing Israeli war and cyber-warfare plans and practices.

The lawsuit, filed in March, claims that Mrs. Clinton orchestrated the release to thwart Israeli plans to preemptively attack Iranian nuclear sites.

Kellan Howell contributed to this report.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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