On Tuesday, a federal court judge ordered the State Department to conduct a search of all of the Benghazi emails from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest advisors.
The state.gov email accounts of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jacob Sullivan, all aides of Clinton during her time at the State Department, were ordered by DC District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta to be searched for “records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] March 4, 2015, FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request.”
The judge acknowledged that the FOIA request of Judicial Watch was not a “typical FOIA case. Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenures as Secretary of State.”
“If an e-mail did not involve any state.gov user, the message would have passed through only the Secretary’s private server and, therefore, would be beyond the immediate reach of State,” Judge Mehta said. “Because of this circumstance, unlike the ordinary case, State could not look solely to its own records systems to adequately respond to [Judicial Watch’s] demand.
“Because of this circumstance, unlike the ordinary case, State could not look solely to its own records systems to adequately respond to [Judicial Watch’s] demand,” Mehta added.
Judge Mehta then pointed out that the one place the State Department had not searched was their own email servers.
“[The State Department] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov e-mail server,” Mehta said. If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov e-mail address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her state.gov account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an e-mail. Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.
“If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov e-mail address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her state.gov account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an e-mail,” he continued. “Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”
Mehta added, “State has offered no assurance that the three record compilations it received [from Secretary Clinton and her aides], taken together, constitute the entirety of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request.”
The judge then shot down any arguments that a search of those email accounts would be unproductive and a waste of time.
“Absent such assurance, the court is unconvinced ‘beyond material doubt’ that a search of the state.gov accounts of Abedin, Mills and Sullivan is ‘unlikely to produce any marginal return,’” Mehta said.
“Accordingly, the court finds that State has not met its burden of establishing it performed an adequate search in response to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request and orders State to conduct a supplemental search of the state.gov e-mail accounts of Abedin, Mills, and Sullivan,” Judge Mehta concluded.
On May 6, 2015, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit when the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00692)), which sought all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton relating to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The emails sought were related to dates between September 11, 2012 to January 31, 2013.
“This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal – and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it – as we approach the attack’s fifth anniversary,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall,” Fitton added. Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?”
“Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?” he asked.
Indeed, why are they? Is it possible they are all in the same swamp?
The State Department has until September 22, 2017, to update the court on the status of the supplemental search and production of additional emails to Judicial Watch in accordance with the court order.
Seriously, this should have been handled a long time ago, but we understand that criminals were covering for each other then in the Obama administration.
Now, it’s time for the Trump administration to man up, not just talk a good game, and turn over the documents that they have the authority to produce.
Will they do that or will they continue to keep the American people in the dark and continue to cover for those who have sold out America to our enemies?
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