A federal judge has ordered the State Department to search the “state.gov” email accounts of Hillary Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jacob Sullivan for records related to Benghazi, as part of a watchdog’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
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U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Amit Mehta made the call Tuesday, describing the FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in March 2015 as “a far cry from a typical FOIA case.”
He noted that “Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.”
“The sole remaining dispute in this case is the adequacy of State’s search for responsive records,” Mehta wrote in his opinion and order, noting the State Department has argued the search through Clinton aides’ emails “is likely to be unfruitful.”
But Mehta wrote that 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 email server.”
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“If Secretary Clinton sent an email about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov email 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 email,” Mehta wrote. “State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”
The conservative watchdog group is engaged in numerous FOIA lawsuits seeking records pertaining to the actions of the last administration -- including, in this case, records regarding the response to the 2012 terror attack in Libya.
The court ordered that the State Department conduct a “supplemental search” of Abedin, Mills and Sullivan state.gov email accounts, and set a deadline of Sept. 22 for the department to update the court on the status.
“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,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “It is remarkable that we had to battle both Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall.”