Judge Kills Off Filegate Suits, 14 Years On
Written by Josh Gerstein for Politico
From his column; Under the Radar: Courts, Transparency and More
A federal judge in Washington has dismissed the last legal remnants of Filegate, a scandal that engulfed the Clinton White House nearly 14 years ago.
Judge Royce Lamberth dispatched a pair of suits over the matter today, ruling that there was no intentional misconduct and that the acquisition of hundreds of FBI background files on former White House staffers was simply a mix-up.
The nut graph to Lamberth’s 28-page ruling :
After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television, and innumerable histrionics, this Court is left to conclude that with this lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, ‘there’s no there there.’ While this Court seriously entertained the plaintiffs’ allegations that their privacy had been violated–and indeed it was, even if not in the sense contemplated by the Privacy Act–after ample opportunity, they have not produced any evidence of the far-reaching conspiracy that sought to use intimate details from FBI files for political assassinations that they alleged. The only thing that they have demonstrated is that this unfortunate episode–about which they do have cause to complain–was exactly what the defendants claimed: a bureaucratic snafu.
First Lady Hillary Clinton once dismissed filegate as a ‘pseudoscandal.’ It was no laughing matter to Clinton aides, who racked up huge legal billsto defend themselvesin the lawsuits.
The litigation gave rise to a series of colorful, videotapeddepositions, including one where former White House aide George Stephanopoulos was asked repeatedly about his use of a pen while appearing as a guest on ABC’s “This Week,” a program he would later host.
Stephanopoulos and his attorney, Stan Brand, eventually walked out of the session, which ended with Klayman memorably declaring: “All right, certify it. We’ll move for sanctions.”
Klayman’s antics in the case were later loosely reimagined in a character named Harry Klaypool on the TV show “The West Wing.