A federal judge on Thursday ordered the State Department to communicate with the FBI about Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, and opened the door to additional demands on the former secretary of state.
Judge Emmet Sullivan told the department to “establish a dialogue” with the FBI about the machine, and be prepared to demand that the FBI turn over documents that may be related to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“I’m surprised that State didn’t do that already,” Sullivan told government lawyers.
“If you can get the information as result of a dialogue with the FBI… I think I may be satisfied,” he added. “Let’s see what the investigation reveals, if anything.”
The order comes amid increasing scrutiny on Clinton’s unorthodox email practices while serving as the nation’s top diplomat. Her use of a “home brew” email system has grown into an increasing drag on her front-runner presidential campaign, and forced top campaign officials to grow more aggressive in trying to get out in front of the story.
Last week, Clinton handed the server and thumb drives containing copies of 55,000 pages of her work-related emails over to the FBI, after news broke that classified information may have inappropriately passed through her inbox.
On Thursday, Sullivan raised the specter of demanding that Clinton determine whether a backup of her home server was made either by the company that managed it or by someone else, and prepare for the possibility of turning that over to the government.Those files might contain other messages of interest to the government, he suggested.
“Arguably there were backups of everything that were communicated,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t the same requirement be appropriate” with that private company as with the FBI, he questioned.
However, any additional demands would not be handed down until the FBI had at least 30 days to inspect Clinton’s server.
“Let’s see what the investigation reveals and we’ll go from there,” the judge said.