- Associated Press - Monday, October 23, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The attorney for a group seeking access to public records that could be contained in the private email account of retired Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said Monday that Sorrell refused to answer 95 percent of the questions posed to him.

Matthew Hardin, of the Washington-based Energy and Environment Legal Institute, said he didn’t feel Sorrell complied with a judge’s order to answer questions about whether public records could exist in the private email account.

“He refused to answer any questions of substance,” Hardin said Monday after what he said was a 90-minute deposition that is part of his group’s effort to learn if Sorrell was working with other attorneys general as part of a coordinated investigation into ExxonMobil.

Sorrell referred questions about the deposition to the Vermont attorney general’s office, which is representing him. Attorney General T.J. Donovan said it’s not unusual for people not to answer all questions during a deposition.

“The scope of the deposition was fairly limited and narrow. … I think the attorney general complied with that request,” Donovan said.

Both Hardin and Donovan said the legal group could ask a judge to order Sorrell to be questioned further.

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute, which describes its mission as “free-market environmentalism,” has said it is trying to determine whether Sorrell conspired with other Democratic attorneys generals to conduct a politically motivated investigation into Exxon Mobil’s position on climate change.

Last week, Vermont Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout ruled that Sorrell could be required to answer questions that could determine if any public records were contained in his private emails.

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