A federal judge has ruled that the State Department has roughly three weeks to propose a deadline for the release of tens of thousands of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails, Politico reported.
The deadline, mandated by U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras in an order issued Tuesday, applies to work-related emails Clinton sent or received on her personal account.
The State Department has promised to use procedures under the Freedom of Information Act to release close to 55,000 pages of emails
Clinton turned over in December.
Department officials have said the email review process would take several months — with the exception of some emails, related to Libya and the Sept. 11, 2012 murders of four Americans by jihadists in Benghazi, that are supposed to be released sooner.
Thus far, the State Department has "declined to promise any specific date or even month for release of the smaller or larger batch of emails," Politico noted. But it is possible that pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits could force State to release some or all of the Clinton emails.
Contreras issued his order Tuesday in a lawsuit filed in January by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold seeking emails from Clinton's four years as secretary of state along with emails from some of her top staffers.
"At or before the May 19 status hearing, Defendant shall provide a proposed schedule of production for Secretary Clinton's emails," wrote Contreras, an appointee of President Barack Obama.
In a separate FOIA suit, a federal appeals court issued an opinion last week instructing the State Department that it is legally obligated to fulfill FOIA requests for Clinton emails "in the shortest possible time."
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