WASHINGTON (CN) – Tossing an attempt to link the fatal Benghazi consulate attack on Hillary Clinton’s email habits as secretary of state, a federal judge found the complaint unsupported and not ready for court.
“The untimely death of plaintiffs’ sons is tragic,” the May 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson states, “and the court does not mean to minimize the unspeakable loss that plaintiffs have suffered in any way. But when one applies the appropriate legal standards, it is clear that plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to rebut the presumption that Secretary Clinton was acting in her official capacity when she used her private email server to communicate with State Department personnel about State Department business, and that they have not stated claims that Secretary Clinton defamed them, put them in a false light, or intentionally inflicted emotional distress.”
Jackson said this is enough to dismiss the case, but that nothing she wrote “should be construed as making any determination or expressing any opinion about the propriety of the use of the private email server or the content or accuracy of the statements made by the secretary to the family members or to anyone else in the days following the Benghazi attack.”
Quick to slam the ruling was Larry Klayman, a longtime Clinton gadfly who filed the complaint last year for the parents of two Americans killed in the Benghazi attack.
Calling Jackson a “leftist judge,” Klaymen said the Obama appointee’s ruling shows bias, prejudice and an intent to protect Clinton.
“I’m outraged by it,” Klayman said in a phone interview. “This is probably the worst example of judicial conduct I’ve seen,” he added.
Clinton’s attorney David E. Kendall meanwhile rejected Klayman’s charge.
“The opinion speaks for itself,” Kendall said in a phone interview. “It’s careful, comprehensive and supported by abundant precedents, and any attack on the judge for being partisan is baseless and ridiculous.”
Klayman’s clients, Patricia Smith and Charles Woods, each lost a son, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, in the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
In addition to claiming that the consulate attackers relied on Clinton’s handling of classified documents to organize the plot, Smith and Woods accused Clinton of placing them in a false light during news interviews.
Smith and Woods quoted Clinton as disputing that the assault on the diplomatic compound was a planned terrorist attack, saying instead that it had been incited by a YouTube video perceived as anti-Islam.
Although Clinton was one of several Obama administration officials who initially linked the attack to a spate of other protests that broke out in Muslim-majority countries after the video’s release, Clinton has long denied that she told the families the YouTube video was to blame.
Smith and Woods said Clinton’s characterization was defamatory, but Judge Jackson said the parents here failed to state a claim.
“Here, plaintiffs do not point to any statement in which the secretary directly accused them of lying, so their claim is based upon a claim that such an accusation was implied,” Jackson wrote.
As for the claims about Clinton’s use of the private email server, Jackson said the parents doomed these allegations by failing to exhaust administrative remedies with the State Department.
Klayman meanwhile disputed the court’s finding that Clinton’s email habits amounted to official State Department business.
“Those duties didn’t include using a private email server that was not secure,” Klayman said in an interview. “And that’s a very strong argument.”
Noting that he is appealing the ruling today on behalf of his clients, who are gold star parents, Klayman said it would not have been prudent for his clients to exhaust administrative remedies.
“Going to the State Department while Obama was president would have been a futile act,” the attorney said.