A notably irritated U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras is rejecting the State Department’s attempt to delay production of the remaining Hillary Clinton emails. Thursday found the judge ordering State to release four more batches of emails on February 13, 19, 26, and 29.
Until now, the State Department has been posting Clinton emails about once a month on its website. The plaintiff in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit before Contreras’ court, reported Jason Leopold of Vice News, has complained that the slow pace of production, with an additional deadline extension requested by the State Department, would delaying some of the most potentially explosive Clinton documents until after important early Democrat presidential primaries.
Politico notes that even the new court-ordered release schedule will deliver two batches of emails after the Nevada caucuses on February 20, and one batch after the Democrat’s South Carolina primary on February 27.
The State Department wanted to deliver one batch on February 13 and another at the end of the month; the court-imposed schedule will ensure more emails are released before each of the two upcoming primary contests. Unfortunately, some of the hottest Clinton emails will still be dropped just a day before the Super Tuesday primary.
Contreras remains very annoyed with the State Department. Politico quotes his order as follows: “The court expects that defendant will endeavor to avoid any additional delay. Therefore, it is FURTHER ORDERED that defendant shall promptly bring any unanticipated problems to the court’s attention.”
“The State Department also provided the court with a declaration from an official overseeing the release process, in which they detailed the steps involved in reviewing the emails. The process they laid out seems to have provided the basis for the judge’s new time line,” CNN reports.
CNN also notes that State Department lawyers initially said it would be impossible to release any more documents before February 18, but later said “changed circumstances” made it possible for them to meet Judge Contreras’ first deadline on February 13.
The Hill reports Administration officials claiming it will take over 16 hours to upload the approximately 570 emails it is currently prepared to release, because the process “involves several steps, and State’s ability to efficiently carry out these steps is sometimes limited by the available technology and by the availability of personnel who are sufficiently familiar with the technology.”
“The FOIA system where the documents reside … can be extremely rigid and slow, making the necessary steps in the process more time-consuming than one might otherwise expect,” State Department official Eric Stein added.
Judge Contreras has also ordered the State Department to provide a detailed explanation for why it has missed previous deadlines, due by Friday afternoon.