Request to delay January release of Clinton emails blames snow, Republicans say ask political, tied to early primaries

Catherine Herridge reports from Washington, D.C.


The State Department is asking a federal court for a one-month extension for the January 29 release of emails from former agency secretary Hillary Clinton, citing in part problems from this weekend’s snow storm and sparking outrage from Republicans about the delay influencing early voting in the White House race.

“It’s clear that the State Department’s delay is all about ensuring any further damaging developments in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal are revealed only after the votes are counted in the early nominating states,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus after the request Friday.

Lawyers for the agency, which Clinton ran from 2011 to 2013, made the request in a federal court in Washington, which in May ordered the emails to be released monthly, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“The Clinton email team must perform its work on site. … This storm will disrupt the Clinton email team’s current plans to work a significant number of hours throughout the upcoming weekend and could affect the number of documents that can be produced on January 29, 2016,” agency lawyers wrote in their request.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for the 2016 nomination, exclusively used a private email account and a home server during her time at the agency. She said this was a decision made out of convenience and has denied doing anything wrong.

An extension, if granted, would push the complete publication of Clinton's emails past several of the earliest primary contests, including the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire. If they come out instead on Feb. 29, it would be a day before the critical Super Tuesday primaries.

“The American people should be outraged at the Obama administration’s gamesmanship to protect someone who recklessly exposed classified information on more than 1,300 occasions, including highly sensitive Top Secret intelligence,” Priebus continued.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday the agency cannot meet its court-mandated goal of Jan. 29 because about 9,400 of the 55,000 remaining pages "contain a large amount of material that required interagency review."

“The remaining emails are also the most complex to process," he said.

However, the agency will make public as many as possible next week, Toner also said.

The Clinton campaign referred questions by Fox News back to the State Department, include a request to respond to the RNC saying the extension request was politically connected to the 2016 voting schedule.

Some of the most contentious emails haven't yet been published. They include two that an intelligence community auditor says are "top secret" and others he claims are even more sensitive, containing information from so-called special access programs. Such programs suggest the emails could reveal details about intelligence sources.

The State Department says no emails published so far contained material with "top secret" information or any material that was marked classified at the time. The issue has nagged at Clinton's presidential campaign, with the FBI said to be examining in some capacity.

Toner said the delay in publication isn't the result of "ongoing discussion about classification" that has been made public recently. He said he couldn't comment further on ongoing litigation.

Fox News’ Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this story.