A federal judge rejected the State Department’s proposal to release portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by next January, saying the agency must instead conduct a “rolling production” of the emails.
In a Tuesday hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras gave the State Department a week to craft a schedule for releasing the records, according to Vice News lawyer Jeffrey Light.
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The agency made its initial proposal in a federal court filing Monday night, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News.
In the filing, John F. Hackett, who is responsible for the department’s responses to FOIA requests, said that following a review of the emails, the department will post the releasable portions of the 55,000 pages on its website. He said the review will take until the end of the year — and asked the court to adopt a completion date of Jan. 15, 2016, to factor in the holidays. That’s just a couple of weeks before the Iowa caucuses and early state primaries that follow.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential election, has said she wants the department to release the emails as soon as possible. The disclosure that she conducted State Department business on a private email account has been a controversy from the very inception of her campaign this year.
In Monday night’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Hackett said the State Department received the 55,000 pages of emails from Clinton in paper form.
“Given the breadth and importance of the many foreign policy issues on which the secretary of state and the department work, the review of these materials will likely require consultation with a broad range of subject matter experts within the department and other agencies, as well as potentially with foreign governments,” he said. “…The department is committed to processing the 55,000 pages as expeditiously as possible, while taking into consideration the department’s other legal obligations.”
He said he the department understands the considerable public interest in the records, but said the size of the collection, the nature of the emails and the interest of several agencies present challenges.