The Associated Press filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday requesting that the State Department be ordered to turn over emails and other documentation relating to Hillary Clinton during her four-year tenure as secretary of state.
This action comes after repeated Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests for the information, dating back as far as five years, had been ignored, according to The Associated Press, which reported:
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes a day after Clinton broke her silence about her use of a private email account while secretary of state. The FOIA requests and lawsuit seek materials related to her public and private calendars, correspondence involving longtime aides likely to play key roles in her expected campaign for president, and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices.
“After careful deliberation and exhausting our other options, The Associated Press is taking the necessary legal steps to gain access to these important documents, which will shed light on actions by the State Department and former Secretary Clinton, a presumptive 2016 presidential candidate, during some of the most significant issues of our time,” AP general counsel Karen Kaiser said in a statement.
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlachhe claimed previously that the department “does its best to meet its FOIA responsibilities,” but cited 19,000 FOIA requests last year as being responsible for its backlog.
He declined to comment on Wednesday’s lawsuit.
Clinton disclosed at a Tuesday news briefing at the United Nations that she exclusively used a private email service on her own private server physically located at her New York home as a natter of “convenience.”
She also stated that she had drafted approximately 60,000 emails, and deleted more than half that number from the server as “personal” versus “public.”
The AP alleged in its complaint that the State Department bore the responsibility of maintaining records of all official electronic correspondence to and from Clinton in her official capacity.
“State’s failure to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s governmental emails were retained and preserved by the agency, and its failure timely to seek out and search those emails in response to AP’s requests, indicate at the very least that State has not engaged in the diligent, good-faith search that FOIA requires,” AP’s legal complaint said.
During her news briefing, Clinton claimed she met the requirements that the StateDepartment maintain copies of her official emails because “the vast majority” of them were sent to department employees, which would be retained in the department’s archives.
But the “vast majority” is not all of them, and The Weekly Standard reported Wednesday that Clinton’s closest aides at State — Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills — also used private email accounts for their official correspondence.
The AP reported:
Specifically, AP is seeking copies of Clinton’s full schedules and calendars from her four years as secretary of state; documents related to her department’s decision to grant a special position to longtime aide Huma Abedin; related correspondence from longtime advisers Philippe Reines and Cheryl Mills, who, like Abedin, are likely to play central roles in a Clinton presidential campaign; documents related to Clinton’s and the agency’s roles in the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices; and documents related to her role overseeing a major Defense Department contractor.
National Security Archive Director Thomas Blanton expected that with the filing of the lawsuit, the Clinton emails will be available soon, especially given that she indicated they contained no classified information.
“When the government is under a court deadline, or really wants to review, they can whip through thousands of pages in a matter of weeks, which they should do here,” Blanton said.
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