The Cable

Hillary Clinton Secures a Rare Email Win

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton scored a legal victory Friday in connection with her use of private email while serving as secretary of state, with a federal judge ruling that the State Department does not have to release some of the 329 emails specifically related to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, before the ...

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Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton scored a legal victory Friday in connection with her use of private email while serving as secretary of state, with a federal judge ruling that the State Department does not have to release some of the 329 emails specifically related to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, before the deadline to release all correspondence.

The State Department, under court order, is in the process of releasing more than 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emails in advance of the January 2016 deadline. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal advocacy group, asked federal judge Amit Mehta to order the State Department to speed the release recently-discovered messages specifically related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack, which left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Mehta sided with the State Department Friday morning. He said it would be “unwise and potentially risky” to quickly release these particular emails.

The decision is a piece of good news for Clinton, who has faced persistent Republican criticism over her use of a private email server in her home in New York when she was the nation’s top diplomat. Tens of thousands of her messages have already been made public, but they have served to provide a behind-the-scenes look at how Clinton ran the State Department as opposed to a smoking gun that would indicate wrongdoing on the night of the attack or in the days and months after.

The legal victory also comes on the heels of an 11-hour grilling of Clinton, also a former New York senator, before the House Select Committee investigating the attack in October. Clinton escaped the hearing unscathed.

Multiple investigations have failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing on Clinton’s part in connection with Benghazi. The probes had hurt her politically, with some Democrats openly fretting about the growing numbers of Americans who didn’t see her as trustworthy. That dynamic has reversed itself in recent weeks, however, buoyed by a strong debate performance and a growing sense within the party that she remains fully capable of defeating a Republican next year.

Still, Friday’s win doesn’t bring an end to even this chapter of the email saga. At some point before February 2016, all of her emails — including the 329 in question — will become public.

Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

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

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