More than two years after the State Department claimed there were no emails responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about a close Hillary Clinton adviser’s contact with the media, the Department has informed a judge it has located 17,855 emails that appear to match the criteria.
The website Gawker filed a FOIA request in 2012 seeking any emails between Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines (a top Hillary Clinton adviser) and a list of 33 major media outlets. Interest in Reines’ correspondence with the media was prompted by an angry email exchange between Reines and journalist Michael Hastings. In the exchange, Reines lost his temper and told Hastings to “f-ck off.”
In July of 2013, the State Department responded to Gawker’s request with a letter which stated, “After a thorough search…no records responsive to your request were located.” Earlier this year Gawker filed a lawsuit asking a judge to force State to produce documents which were responsive to its initial FOIA request.
Finally, in a “court-ordered status report” the State Department has admitted to having located 81,159 emails belonging to Reines. Of those, State found 22 percent may be responsive to the FOIA request made back in 2012. “The Department believes that it will need to conduct a line-by-line review of an estimated 17,855 emails for applicable FOIA exemptions,” the status update reads.
The State Department now says it has so many documents that are responsive to the initial request that it will need to issue a group of them every 30 days until all 17,855 have been released. State adds that it is unable to even estimate how long the total production will take.
No explanation is offered in the status report for why the State Department initially claimed there were zero responsive records to the same request.