“The circumstances surrounding approval of Mrs. Clinton’s use of clintonemail.com for official government business, as well as the manner in which it was operated, are issues that need to be explored in discovery to enable the Court to resolve, as a matter of law, the adequacy of the State Department’s search of relevant records in response to Judicial Watch’s request,” Judge Sullivan wrote.
He gave Judicial Watch eight weeks to conduct the interviews, meaning they will be finished just weeks before Mrs. Clinton hopes to accept the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia in late July.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump openly speculates that Mrs. Clinton will be indicted at the end of an FBI investigation into the server.
Mrs. Clinton set up the server at her home in New York in 2009, soon after she became secretary. She said she made the decision because it was convenient for her — though at least some of the internal communications suggest that she also hoped to shield her communications from public scrutiny.
While President Obama, his chiefs of staff and dozens of other top administration officials knew of Mrs. Clinton’s odd email arrangement, the people at her department in charge of responding to open-records requests did not.
Mrs. Clinton said there were 30,000 other messages from her time in office that were strictly private and did not implicate her government activities. She declined to turn over those messages, saying the law gave her the obligation of deciding what was official and what was personal.
Judicial Watch says the decision shouldn’t be hers anymore because she is no longer a government employee. It wants to force the Obama administration to take control of Mrs. Clinton’s entire email file, including the messages she didn’t return.
In his order Wednesday, Judge Sullivan seemed troubled by an email exchange involving Stephen Mull, a department official who recommended that Mrs. Clinton use an official BlackBerry, but said that would make her messages “subject to FOIA requests” — seemingly suggesting that her secret server was an effort to skirt those open-records laws.
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