A federal judge has rejected the State Department’s proposal to wait until January 2016 to release over 50,000 emails written by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ordering instead a “rolling production” of documents every two months.
In response to Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit filed by Vice News, the State Department on Monday had filed a declaration with Washington D.C.’s U.S. District Court arguing that the process of reviewing the emails is so arduous and time-consuming that it should have until January, 15 2016 to release them.
Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled against that request today, ordering instead that the department has until May 26 to produce a new production schedule for the releasing Clinton’s emails.
During a campaign stop earlier today, Clinton said, "[the emails] belong to the State Department. So the State Department has to go through its process but as much as they can expedite that process, that's what I'm asking them to do. Please move as quickly as they possibly can to get them out."
It’s not clear when the State Department will have to begin releasing the emails. However, the decision that emails be slowly released over time may actually be more favorable to Clinton’s presidential campaign than the State Department’s original proposal, which was to release all of them just two weeks before the primary election season gets into full swing.
Judge Contreras also ordered that the State Department propose a deadline for producing Clinton’s 300 emails relating to the 2012 Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Those emails had originally been requested by Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been leading the latest investigation on the Benghazi attack for over a year and plans to call Clinton to testify in front of his committee.
Gowdy and the Select Committee already received those 300 emails from the State Department but has chosen not to release them. Gowdy said he wants access to all Benghazi emails from 10 other senior State Department officials emails before he can be sure he has all the information he needs.
But officials who have seen the emails tell ABC News that there is no incrimination evidence within them. For the most part, officials say, they are briefly worded emails with little substance. Many of them just read, for example, “please print."
State Department officials told ABC News that 300 emails relating to the Benghazi terror attack could be made public as soon as this week.
The overwhelming interesting in Clinton's emails began early this year when it was revealed she had been using her own private email server to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State. She later took to social media to tell the public she wanted everyone to see her emails. Now the 2016 front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton said she’d asked the State Department to review them and make them public as soon as possible.
John F. Hackett, acting director of the Office of Information Programs and Services at the State Department, says in the court filing that he understands the considerable public interest in the emails and the desire to get them out quickly.
“The collection is, however, voluminous and, due to the breadth of topics, the nature of the communications, and the interests of several agencies, presents several challenges,” Hackett wrote.