State Department attorneys pushed back Monday on a request from media outlets for a court to unseal the recordings of depositions given by aides to Hillary Clinton.
In a high-profile lawsuit over Clinton's private emails, government lawyers said the testimony given by aides with knowledge of the private server was "not intended 'to educate ... the public.'"
"The court has adequately accounted for any public interest in these proceedings by making the deposition transcripts available to the public," the State Department's legal team argued in court documents, noting that doing so is "not the norm" in such cases.
Six current and former Clinton aides testified between May and June in depositions that were taped and transcribed. However, attorneys successfully convinced a federal judge to keep the video recordings under wraps for fear that portions of the tapes could be cut into political ads and used against Clinton.
In late July, a coalition of 19 media outlets joined forces to ask the court to authorize the release of the videos by arguing that the transcripts, which have already been made public, could not provide a full account of what took place in the depositions.
The group included Fox News, the Associated Press, CBS and NBC, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"In this case, the Department of State has an interest in ensuring that the recordings of its current and former employees — several of whom are career foreign service officers — are not presented to the public inaccurately or out of context," government lawyers wrote in filings Monday.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of U.S. District Court, who is presiding over the case, is already weighing a request to question Clinton under oath about her private email use in light of the FBI's announcement last month that many of her public statements about the server were inaccurate.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, has argued that the Clinton aides who participated in discovery did not shed any new light on the reasons why the private server was maintained for years despite warnings that doing so flouted agency rules.
The Freedom of Information Act case at hand grew into one of the most definitive public inquiries of the email controversy after the State Department failed to provide a set of personnel records Judicial Watch had requested in 2013.
The agency's inadequate effort to search for those records and its subsequent stonewalling led the judge to allow discovery in the FOIA case, a rare step in similar lawsuits. Sullivan told Judicial Watch in May that they could pursue a deposition with Clinton only after they had questioned several aides and demonstrated an outstanding need to speak with the former secretary of state.