The Cable

Judge: The ‘Least Ambitious’ Bureaucrat Could Process Clinton’s Personal Emails Faster

A judge says the "least ambitious" government worker could process Clinton's personal emails faster.

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So far, the State Department, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, has released just a small sampling of 55,000 pages of email from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home Internet server. The timing of the releases has been less than ideal. The first batch was released on the afternoon of May 22, the Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend. The second came late in the evening on June 30, less than an ideal time for reporters to dig in to find a story.

According to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, the pace of the releases, just like their timing, is also less than ideal.

“Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day,” the judge said at a Thursday hearing, according to Politico, while reviewing an Associated Press request for the release of just over 60 emails. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.”

Leon’s comments give ammunition to those who accuse the State Department of dragging its feet over the emails concerning the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens dead. Republican critics want to determine whether the former New York senator sent classified information from a personal account, a charge Clinton has denied. And the fact that top Clinton deputies like Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Cheryl Mills haven’t turned over all their work-related emails — something revealed at the court hearing — is likely to add fuel to the Republican fire.

“I can’t say that I — State Department doesn’t have a master record-keeping system,” said State Department official John Hackett, who handles FOIA requests for the department, when Leon asked about his department’s email management. “I can’t say that.”

What we can say is that we know when the next batch of emails is coming. That would be Friday, July 31. Reporters, including this one who is eager to end a long week in Washington, are hoping it’s early in the day.

Photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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