A District Court judge has instructed the State Department to try to identify additional emails Hillary Clinton or her staff may have sent regarding the September 2012 Benghazi attack. Judge Amit Mehta’s request was made following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demand filed by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Although the tens of thousands of emails turned over by Clinton and her aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan have already been examined, Judicial Watch rightfully pointed out that the State Department had never examined its own systems i.e. the state.gov email accounts belonging to Abedin, Mills and Sullivan – nor the emails the FBI had discovered in the fall of 2016 while investigating Anthony Weiner, Abedin’s husband.
“To date, State has searched only data compilations originating from outside sources – Secretary Clinton, her former aides, and the FBI. […] It 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 e-mail server. […] Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records,” Mehta wrote.
Altogether, the State Department discovered 348 emails or other documents relating to the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives.
Clinton initially told the American public that the attack was as a result of a YouTube video although she sent an email to her daughter Chelsea – aka Diane Reynolds – on the same day stating that the attack had been conducted by a terrorist group.
Although Judge Mehta ruled that the State Department had “not met its burden of establishing it performed an adequate search in response to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request” and ordered the Department “to conduct a supplemental search of the state.gov e-mail accounts of Abedin, Mills, and Sullivan,” he acknowledged that a new search may not reveal any new documents or additional information.
“Admittedly, in light of State’s efforts to date, there is a reasonable probability that the only responsive e-mails stored on State’s server are duplicates of e-mails originating from the three outside sources and, thus, have already been produced to Plaintiff,” Mehta pointed out.
The Department was given until September 22 to update the court on its search of the state.gov emails and on its review and production of the emails provided by the FBI.