WASHINGTON » The State Department says about 30 emails that may be related to the 2012 attack on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, are among the thousands of Hillary Clinton emails recovered during the FBI’s recently closed investigation into her use of a private server.
Government lawyers told U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta today that an undetermined number of the emails among the 30 were not included in the 55,000 pages previously provided by Clinton. The State Department’s lawyer said it would need until the end of September to review the emails and redact potentially classified information before they are released.
Mehta questioned why it would take so long to release so few documents, and urged that the process be sped up. He ordered the department to report to him in a week with more details about why the review process would take a full month.
The hearing was held in one of several lawsuits filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which has sued over access to government records involving the Democratic presidential nominee. The State Department has said the FBI provided it with about 14,900 emails purported not to have been among those previously released.
Clinton previously had said she withheld and deleted only personal emails not related to her duties as secretary of state. With the November election little more than two months away, Republicans are pressing for the release of as many documents related to Clinton as possible.
In a separate development today, Judicial Watch submitted 25 questions to Clinton about her 2009 decision to rely on a private server in the basement of her New York home rather than a government email account.
Clinton was ordered earlier this month by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to answer the group’s questions under oath. The judge’s order was only a partial victory for the group, which had sought to depose Clinton in person.
It was not immediately clear from the wording of Sullivan’s order whether Clinton must answer the questions before or after the November election. Judicial Watch contends the deadline is Sept. 29.
Clinton lawyer David Kendall did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the timing of his client’s planned response. A woman who answered the phone at Sullivan’s chambers said he was unavailable to provide clarification.
A law enforcement official also told The Associated Press today that the FBI is expected to release documents soon related to its investigation, which focused on whether Clinton and her aides mishandled government secrets.
The official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, said documents in the case would be made public as the FBI responds to Freedom of Information Act requests. It wasn’t immediately clear when the documents would be released or exactly what they would include.
Though he described Clinton’s actions as “extremely careless,” FBI Director James Comey said his agents found no evidence that anyone intended to break the law and said “no reasonable prosecutor” would have brought a criminal case.
The FBI this month provided Congress portions of its file from the agency’s yearlong investigation.
The FBI interviewed Clinton for several hours at FBI headquarters in Washington just days before announcing its decision to close the investigation. The Justice Department accepted the FBI’s recommendation.