FBI finds nearly 15,000 more Clinton emails
Federal judge orders State Department to speed up release of the new documents
WASHINGTON—The FBI’s recent probe yielded almost 15,000 new emails Hillary Clinton sent or received as secretary of state, and a U.S. district judge has ordered the State Department to produce them faster.
The watchdog group Judicial Watch is suing the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain all Clinton documents, including those the FBI recovered during its recently concluded investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. The FBI turned over seven electronic discs of information to the State Department last month, but on Monday the agency said Oct. 14 is the “absolute earliest” it could begin producing documents.
“What have they been doing for the last four weeks?” asked Judicial Watch attorney Lauren Burke during a 20-minute proceeding before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Judicial Watch wants the State Department to release “Disc 1” first because it contains the emails Clinton failed to include in the 30,000 work-related documents she delivered to the State Department in December 2014. State Department attorney Lisa Olson acknowledged the disc contains 14,900 documents, but she said an initial review indicated a “significant” amount of personal information that would have to be withheld.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg seemed to agree it shouldn’t take until Oct. 14 to begin production and ordered the parties to appear on Sept. 22 for a status update. Olson indicated the State Department would have finished its “appraisal” by then, but it would still need to “review” the documents to see what information is responsive to the FOIA request.
Burke said the process shouldn’t be that difficult. In 2014, Clinton turned over boxes of paper documents that had to be sorted and cataloged electronically, but the new records are already in sortable, electronic form.
“There really should not be any delay,” Burke said after the proceeding. “It is a simple process of, ‘We know that this disc holds 14,000 documents. We’re going to review them. This is personal, this isn’t. Take a look—is there an exemption?—produce.’ It’s that simple.”
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the State Department has “concocted this ridiculous” two-step process to slow down production. “The State Department has a lot of practice in processing these records,” he told reporters.
Fitton said he was pleased Boasberg’s ruling increases the likelihood that most or all of the new documents will be released before the presidential election.
“The public should expect all of these records to be released … well before the election—there’s not good reason to hold them back,” Fitton said. “If they wanted the records out quickly, they’d be out quickly. If they don’t want the records out quickly, they’ll let politics intrude on the process, and the American people won’t see them until after Election Day.”
Olson told Boasberg the State Department is doing the best it can: “We understand the public interest and relevance of the election.”
Last month, FBI Director James Comey said the bureau would not recommend charges against Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee for president, who he said was “extremely careless” with her handling of classified information. But numerous other email-related questions have lingered, including whether Clinton Foundation donors received special treatment from the Clinton State Department.
In testimony before Congress last month, Comey declined to comment on the “existence or non-existence” of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
Immediately following Monday’s court proceeding, Judicial Watch released documents indicating that Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, “provided expedited, direct access to Clinton for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
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