State urged to put more in­spec­tors on Clin­ton email case

Judge re­jects pro­posed timeline

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

A fed­eral judge urged the State Depart­ment to get more peo­ple on the case re­view­ing and re­leas­ing the emails of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton and her top aides, say­ing Tues­day that all sides should be ea­ger to get the mat­ter be­hind them.

Judge Emmet G. Sul­li­van also re­jected the State Depart­ment’s timeline for search­ing the aides’ emails and in­sisted the gov­ern­ment have them all put in an elec­tronic sys­tem by the end of this week, and do an ini­tial search to see which ones are re­lated to the 2012 Beng­hazi ter­ror­ist at­tacks next week.

“There has to be some re­al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources be­cause these are atyp­i­cal cases,” the judge told Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tor­neys.

El­iz­a­beth Shapiro, a se­nior Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyer han­dling many of the more than 30 cases seek­ing Clin­ton-re­lated emails, said the ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing what it can but that its em­ploy­ees are al­ready stretched, work­ing “re­ally de­mor­al­iz­ing, crush­ing hours.”

“The State Depart­ment is be­ing crushed with obli­ga­tions,” she said.

Also Tues­day, Bloomberg news ser­vice re­ported that the FBI has re­cov­ered emails that Mrs. Clin­ton said were wiped from her server be­cause she deemed them per­sonal.

Cit­ing a source fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Bloomberg said the FBI is ex­am­in­ing the server to see whether clas­si­fied data was mis­han­dled, a process that could take months.

An FBI spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment, and it wasn’t clear how many of Mrs. Clin­ton’s emails had been re­cov­ered. Clin­ton spokesman Nick Mer­rill told Bloomberg that the cam­paign had “co­op­er­ated to date and will con­tinue to do so.” Judge Sul­li­van is over­see­ing sev­eral cases seek­ing Clin­ton emails un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, and was search­ing for rea­son­able dead­lines — but pressed the ad­min­is­tra­tion to bet­ter ex­plain why it has taken months to get and be­gin to process mes­sages turned over by top Clin­ton aides Huma Abe­din and Ch­eryl Mills.

Matthew McGill, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Cit­i­zens United, a con­ser­va­tive group that sued to get some of those emails, said the State Depart­ment’s de­lays were “tac­ti­cal” de­ci­sions meant to gum up the process.

Ms. Shapiro re­jected that, say­ing they were caught un­aware by the emails Ms. Mills and Ms. Abe­din turned over more than two years af­ter they left the State Depart­ment.

The State Depart­ment says it has the equiv­a­lent of about 63 full-time em­ploy­ees work­ing on the thou­sands of open-records re­quests the depart­ment gets each year, and those staffers are be­ing pushed to meet tight dead­lines, in­clud­ing those im­posed by more than a dozen judges now in­volved in some Clin­ton email-re­lated cases.

Ms. Shapiro said the depart­ment is also con­cerned that they are giv­ing too much time and at­ten­tion to cases where some­one has sued, say­ing that ends up stiff­ing the other re­questers who don’t have the re­sources to go to court.

Judge Sul­li­van said the ob­vi­ous an­swer was to get more peo­ple: “It strikes me, we have to find the re­sources.”

In the case of Cit­i­zens United, the State Depart­ment had asked for at least un­til De­cem­ber to search the files of Ms. Abe­din and Ms. Mills, but Judge Sul­li­van re­jected that.

In­stead he gave the depart­ment un­til the end of this week to have all of their emails put in a search­able data­base within the depart­ment, and gave them un­til next week to per­form an ini­tial search by key­word to de­ter­mine the uni­verse of doc­u­ments that might be re­spon­sive to Cit­i­zens United’s re­quest for in­for­ma­tion.

The judge also speeded up a sim­i­lar case brought by Ju­di­cial Watch seek­ing emails from Mrs. Clin­ton’s aides, is­su­ing an or­der re­quir­ing the State Depart­ment to meet the same ex­pe­dited sched­ule in that mat­ter too.

“The court isn’t buy­ing what the State Depart­ment is selling, and their protes­ta­tion they’ve got too much work to do doesn’t seem to be fly­ing,” said Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Ju­di­cial Watch.

Mr. Fit­ton said he doesn’t ac­cept that Mrs. Clin­ton and her top aides have turned over all of their doc­u­ments, and Ju­di­cial Watch is push­ing the courts to try to find out more about other emails that they kept, defin­ing them as per­sonal doc­u­ments rather than gov­ern­ment busi­ness.

“All of this is a dis­trac­tion from the real ques­tion out there, which is what about the emails that have yet to be turned over to the State Depart­ment? What’s be­ing done to re­cover them, have them pre­served and searched un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act?” Mr. Fit­ton said.

Mrs. Clin­ton now says she re­grets her de­ci­sion to set up an email server her­self and ex­clu­sively use an ac­count tied to that server for her gov­ern­ment busi­ness as sec­re­tary, in what both a fed­eral judge and State Depart­ment of­fi­cials said was a breach of pol­icy.

The Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner says, how­ever, that she didn’t break any laws with the ar­range­ment, which kept of­fi­cial records out of the hands of the gov­ern­ment for nearly two years af­ter she left of­fice. She re­turned about 32,000 emails to the State Depart­ment in De­cem­ber, say­ing they were all the mes­sages that her lawyers deemed to be of­fi­cial records.

David E. Kendall, Mrs. Clin­ton’s per­sonal lawyer, also kept a flash drive with a .pst file con­tain­ing the emails, and that drive is also un­der scru­tiny now that Mrs. Clin­ton’s emails have been deemed to have held clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

In a let­ter Tues­day, Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, asked Mr. Kendall to de­tail who ex­actly was in­volved in the re­view team, who de­cided which mes­sages to put on the flash drive and when Mrs. Clin­ton turned her emails over to the lawyers for re­view.

Mr. Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can, also said it didn’t ap­pear Mr. Kendall’s law part­ner, Kather­ine Turner, who had ac­cess to the flash drive, had a high enough se­cu­rity clear­ance to be han­dling the kind of in­for­ma­tion in Mrs. Clin­ton’s emails.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton now says she re­grets her de­ci­sion to set up an email server her­self and ex­clu­sively use an ac­count tied to that server for her gov­ern­ment busi­ness as sec­re­tary, in what both a fed­eral judge and State Depart­ment of­fi­cials said was a breach of pol­icy.

“There has to be some re­al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources be­cause these are atyp­i­cal cases,” Judge Emmet G. Sul­li­van told Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tor­neys.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.