A federal judge berated State Department officials over the delay in providing Hillary Clinton’s emails and other documentation from her tenure as secretary of state
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said he couldn’t understand the delay in responding to the Freedom of Information Act requests, according to Politico.
“Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day,” the judge said, examining a request for just over 60 emails. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.”
Leon articulated what has been a major concern of State Department critics who contend that the agency is dragging out responses to FOIA requests to protect Clinton, who served as secretary of state during Obama’s first term. The judge’s complaints echoed those of Hill Republicans, who have accused the agency of slow-walking document requests in its Benghazi investigation to protect Clinton.
More Clinton emails are expected to be released Friday under a court-ordered process that has underscored Leon’s unhappiness.
And in a twist, State also revealed holes in its own federal record as officials said they were still awaiting some work-related emails from Clinton’s top department brass, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.
One of them, Clinton’s former spokesman, Philippe Reines, for example, on Tuesday turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account, calling into question the extent to which top aides to the former secretary of state also engaged in controversial email practices.
“I can’t say that I — State Department doesn’t have a master record-keeping system,” answered State Department top document official John Hackett, who heads FOIA requests for the agency, when asked whether he believed State’s record-keeping procedures captured needed government documents. “I can’t say that.”
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The lawsuit was filed by The Associated Press over FOIA requests going back years for Clinton emails and other documents.
Hackett told the judge at the hearing that part of the problem is that the personnel handling State Department FOIA requests work part-time.
That had the judge “flabbergasted,” Politico reported.
“Is Congress aware that people who do all [State] FOIA requests are part-timers?” the judge asked, according to Politico.
Hackett reportedly claimed that the system works fine.
Leon shot back that it was a “matter of perception.”
“State has been criticized for how slow it is … surely you know this,” Leon said, according to Politico.
Another batch of Clinton’s emails are supposed to be released on Friday.
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