A federal judge on Thursday excoriated the State Department for its indolent response to The Associated Press' requests under the Freedom of Information Act for emails and other correspondence related to Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, according to Politico
"Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day," said U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon regarding a request for some 60 emails. "Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this."
In March, The Associated Press sued to force
the State Department to turn over emails and other government documents during Clinton’s tenure.
The AP sought a legal remedy after its Freedom of Information Act requests, dating three to five years, went unfulfilled.
The news agency is asking for "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."
The State Department may have gotten itself into more hot water as the result of a revelation at the hearing indicating that some of Clinton’s top advisers may have also used personal email accounts for work-related correspondence.
Former Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines this week turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails "taken in part from a personal email account," Politico reports.
John Hackett, who heads the State Department’s FOIA requests, said at a court hearing earlier this week that several department officials have been asked to turn over work-related documents in their possession, but that those people — including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills — have not yet done so.
"Hackett did not say whether the requested documents were from a personal account or State.gov account — though the government would presumably already have copies of the latter on a backup system," according to Politico, which also reports that a panel investigating the Benghazi attacks has "uncovered instances in which top aides seemed to be writing from personal email addresses."
The judge blasted the State Department for its failure to get its employees to produce the requested documents, dating to 2013, to Hackett. He also asked for the employees' names so that he could issue a deposition to get answers.
"It appears they didn’t get anything done for two years," Leon said.
The hearing concluded with an agreement between the AP and the State Department for the latter to provide documents on a rolling basis through the end of the year.
Leon threatened to issue a court order to expedite the agreement if the State Department did not comply in a timely manner . He also shot down a request by the State Department for two weeks, instead of one, to answer follow-up questions, since Hackett had previously scheduled personal leave and his signature would be required on anything produced to the court, according to Politico.
"Send it to him by express mail, and he’ll send it back," the judge chided. "Get it by next Wednesday."
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