Commentary

Judicial Watch Forces Release of ‘Deleted’ Clinton Emails – Emails Include Benghazi Material

By Tom Fitton | August 30, 2016 | 2:35pm EDT
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies in front of the House Benghazi panel. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Our work on the Clinton emails issue yields incredible result after incredible result.  Just last week, a federal court ordered the State Department to review newly found Clinton emails and turn over responsive records by September 13.  And, in two other Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the State Department is scheduled to release additional emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s non-state.gov email system beginning September 30.

As if this wasn’t enough, in a court filing last week, the State Department admitted it had found Benghazi-related documents among the 14,900 Clinton emails and attachments uncovered by the FBI that Mrs. Clinton deleted and withheld from the State Department.

The first batch of new emails comes in response to a court order issued on August 24, 2016 in a November 13, 2015, Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed against the Department of State seeking all communications between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama White House from the day of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and throughout the following week.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dr. Larry Kawa of Boca Raton, Florida, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division (Larry Kawa v. U.S. Department of State (No. 9:15-cv-81560)).  The August 24th order requiring the production of the emails from the 14,900 new Clinton emails, as well as any other communications or emails from the other materials recently delivered to the State Department by the FBI, was issued by U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas. 

The court ruled:

“The State Department shall search the material, determine whether any responsive records exist, and complete its first production of non-exempt records, to the extent any exist, by September 13, 2016.”

In a separate case, Judicial Watch has been seeking Clinton’s communications about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, during which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith were killed.  A second assault targeted a nearby compound, killing two government contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00692)).

After admitting in an August 23 court filing that it found documents that “satisfied the [Benghazi related] search terms” of the new Clinton emails, the State Department proposed a rolling production schedule, “under which State would make its first production of any non-exempt responsive records subject to FOIA on September 30, 2016, and complete production no later than October 31, 2016.”  Judicial Watch then asked the court that State make known the volume of documents remaining to be reviewed before it accepts whether the production schedule is reasonable.  And then – also yesterday – U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta informed the attorneys the Court wants to schedule a hearing on this issue for Tuesday, August 30!

There’s more.  We are also scheduled to receive documents from the State Department in a case arising out of FOIA lawsuit before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton.  The lawsuit was reopened because of revelations about the clintonemail.com system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).  Judge Sullivan ordered the State Department to release all remaining documents responsive to our FOIA request by no later than September 30, 2016.

The 14,900 new Clinton emails were uncovered as a result of separate Judicial Watch litigation seeking all of Mrs. Clinton’s work-related emails.  At a status hearing last week, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ordered the State Department to report to the Court the volume of documents reviewed and be prepared to commit to a production schedule at a further status hearing on September 23, 2016.  The revelation of the existence of all these additional emails further rocked the nation

It is difficult to overstate how scandalous it is that Hillary Clinton tried to delete and hide Benghazi emails and documents.  No wonder federal courts in Florida and DC are ordering the State Department to stop stalling and begin releasing the 14,900 new Clinton emails.

Tom Fitton is the President of Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. Founded in 1994, Judicial Watch seeks to ensure government and judicial officials act ethically and do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American public.

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