Hillary Clinton email cases: State Dept. tries to block cases in court – Washington Times
The State Department asked to halt most of the judges prying into former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails, filing papers Thursday proposing that the cases all be combined into one so that a single judge can oversee the government’s searches and released.
Admitting it’s “struggling” under the weight of the problem left by Mrs. Clinton’s decision to use her own email account, the State Department warned it might miss the January deadline for turning over all of her emails — and might not be able to process her former aides’ emails either — unless a single judge takes over and decides what they have to do.
“They are struggling to keep up,” Marsha Edney, a Justice Department lawyer handling the case for the State Department told Judge Reggie B. Walton during a hearing on one of 32 separate cases Thursday.
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The administration faces the prospect of each of the 17 judges making demands on how and when they do searches. And any one of them could order the department to go back and try to recover the more than 30,000 emails Mrs. Clinton said she deleted as personal correspondence — a prospect neither the Clinton campaign nor the administration would relish.
Instead, the State Department wants a single judge to handle all of the searching and deadlines, saying it would bring “order” to the process.
But Judge Walton said he doubted that would happen, telling department lawyers in court Thursday that he’s already heard talk at the courthouse that there’s a “reluctance” on the part of some of his fellow judges to give up their cases.
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He also said the problem is one of Mrs. Clinton’s own making.
“If this private server had not been used, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said.
When she became secretary in 2009, Mrs. Clinton rejected using the regular State Department email system, instead setting up a server at her home in New York and issuing herself and some close confidants accounts on that server.
She kept those messages secret until the congressional probe into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks learned about them, and demanded she return the emails, which are official government records.
In December, nearly two years after she left office, she complied. But that means that for nearly six years, the State Department was unable to properly fulfill subpoenas, open-records requests and investigative demands from Congress, thanks to Mrs. Clinton’s unique email arrangement.
The State Department also said a number of her aides were guilty of similar behavior — though it didn’t name them, referring to them instead collectively as “the recently provided documents.”
Anticipating just as much trouble processing those emails as they’ve had with Mrs. Clinton‘s, the State Department said a single coordinating judge could smooth much of that out and come up with a unified schedule that takes into account an already overstretched department.
The request to consolidate is being opposed by a number of those who filed the open-records requests. Meanwhile one of the plaintiffs, Freedom Watch, said it would accept the arrangement but only if the eventual judge was not named to the court by either Mrs. Clinton’s husband or by President Obama, both of whom clearly have ties to Mrs. Clinton.
The State Department also officially reduced the number of pages of emails that can be released from Mrs. Clinton’s files to 52,455. She turned 53,988 pages back to the State Department — in paper form, requiring the department to spend the first five months re-digitizing them. The National Archives has since determined that 1,533 of those pages were “entirely personal” and didn’t qualify as federal records.